The Future of Spanish in the United States

Many scholars and researchers agree that the Spanish language’s future in the United States looks promising, though it seems highly unlikely that Spanish will unseat English as the nation’s dominant language. There are those, however, who argue that Spanish faces the possibility of diminishing influence in the United States over time, the result of a language shift seen previously in other immigrant groups.

A study commissioned by Hispanic USA, a market resource firm targeted at Latinos, estimates that by the year 2025, the tally of Spanish-speaking Latinos in the U.S. will climb to some 40 million. The study challenges the notion that the use of Spanish will decline as future generations of Latinos are born and raised in this country in the coming years. The authors of the Hispanic USA study claim that, unlike other immigrant groups, those born in the U.S. to Latino parents will continue to speak Spanish in exceptionally large numbers.

In separate but related analysis, Linguist Steve Schaufele notes: “Given the current health of the U.S. Hispanic community and the level of its emotional investment in its distinctive culture, I would say that American Spanish as one of the principal vehicles of that culture has an excellent chance of surviving indefinitely.”

In addition, the pool of new Spanish-speaking immigrants favors the continued importance of the language in the United States. Over half of the legal immigrants who arrive annually hail from Spanish-speaking countries, and the percentage is even higher for undocumented immigrants.

With the emergence of the Internet as a tool for international communication, the increasing growth and importance of the global economy, and the sheer number of Spanish speakers worldwide, there are more chances to use the language in the United States and greater economic incentives to retain and promote the use of Spanish.

However, some are not as optimistic about the future of the Spanish language in the U.S. They point to conflicting studies that reveal a failure on the part of second- and third-generation Hispanics to preserve the language, a trend which is gradually diminishing the pool of Spanish speakers. Additionally, recent studies by sociologists indicate a rapid shift to English among the children of immigrants.

Only time will tell the fate of the Spanish language in the United States, but it appears that, by most accounts, Spanish is here to stay.

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4 Responses to “The Future of Spanish in the United States”

  • I am an english teacher in Russia, and as a native American, i found this article to be interesting. I never learned Spanish, because obviously i was interested in Russian, but it was fun to read about. thanks.

  • I disagree, I think spanish will takeover as the number 1 language in the united states. It may never be the first accepted but its on pace to becoming a universal language in the states. With the huge emergence of spanish-speaking jobs, and spanish-speaking workers being mandatory in my services across the nation its not hard to fathom.

  • Spanish will unseat English as the primary language of the U.S. some time in the 2040s or 2050s. High immigrations rates from the Spanish-speaking world, high Hispanic birth rates both in the U.S. and abroad, a porous border with Latin America, a lack of interest among immigrants in learning English, technological developments that discourage integration and assimilation, and acceptance of multiculturalism will ultimately doom English to a secondary status in the United States. Spanish may entirely supplant English in the U.S. by 2100 (alongside Mandarin, Hindi, and Arabic).

  • Preposterous. The number of spanish speaking immigrants stopped growing in the mid-2000s and the number of spanish speakers is declining from enculturation and the generational shift to English among U.s. born children of immigrants. German was spoken by millions of Americans in the late 19th century, Churches, schools, newspapers littered the midwestern cities they lived in. They are all gone.

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