Why more Latinos than ever are speaking English

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The number of Hispanics in the United States who speak English proficiently rose to a record high in 2013, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.


Of Hispanics ages 5 and older, 68 percent — roughly 33.2 million people — spoke proficient English. That's nearly a 10 percentage point jump from the year 2000.

At the same time, the percentage of Latinos speaking Spanish at home continued a gradual decline, going from 78 percent in 2000 to 73 percent in 2013.


The shift is largely fueled by young people. The number of Hispanics born in the U.S. now outnumber foreign-born Hispanics two-to-one. On the whole, they're much younger than those born abroad and tend to learn English at a higher rate.

When you look at the percent of Latinos who speak only English at home or speak English "very well," the biggest increases come from those born in the U.S.


English proficiency among foreign-born Hispanic children also saw a rapid increase.


The trend should be a dose of reality for adherents to the English-only movement, which fears the U.S. could be overtaken by Spanish speakers. Even if new immigrants don't speak English well, their kids clearly pick it up pretty quickly.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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