According to a research conducted by the Texas Demographic Center, the spanish speaking population in the state is growing – and fast. In fact, it will surpass Texas’ non-Hispanic White population as soon as 2022.
There are still no projections regarding when the spanish-speaking population will become the majority of the state. However, the consistent growth this group has presented throughout the years highlights some important facts. For example, the need to close Education Gaps.
What does having a growth on hispanic population mean?
The spanish-speaking growth means that the rate of bilingualism is also growing. That is because those people are fluent in Spanish, but also in English – the official language in the United States.
The country has the second largest population of Spanish speaking people, losing just for Mexico. With almost 13% of its population speaking the language at home right now, it is expected that one in three people in the U.S. will speak Spanish by 2050.
Where are they?
The majority of the native English speaking people in Texas are concentrated in the Southeast and both coasts of the country. According to the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, San Francisco Federal Reserve district has the largest population, with almost 18 million people. The district is followed by Dallas that has almost 11 million non-hispanic people.
In Dallas County, there are 1.1 million people speaking Spanish, while 2 million of those are in Harris County, in Houston. The research suggests that, by 2050, the hispanic population in Texas alone will surpass 20 million people.
Spanish speaking people also represent 81% of the non-native English speakers in Dallas, the largest share in all districts. El Paso, where 59% of the non-native English population also speaks Spanish, and San Antonio (50%) complete the picture.
Benefits a spanish speaking population can bring
Many people know that being bilingual is good, but did you know that bilingualism can bring benefits to a country too? Here we listed a few of them!
The main benefit a bilingual population brings is a potential boost in the country’s economy.
Let’s take Switzerland as an example. The country has four official languages (German, Italian, French and Romansh) and attributes 10% of its GDP to this fact.
This happens because languages are responsible for building trade relations. Thus, creating better deals for the country and its economy.
Better Individual Earning Power
People that speak more than one language are most likely to be paid more than the monolingual population. A study conducted by the University of Florida found out that workers who speak Spanish gain $7,000 more (per year) than those who only speak English.
To complement the research, the Dallas Fed conducted a study directed to Spanish-speaking people in the region. The questionnaire had almost 400 participants and showed that they use the language extensively in their work routine. This shows the economic benefits attached to language skill. The study found out that Spanish is used primarily by managers and business owners. Agriculture, mineculture, manufacturing industries and B2C services are the ones that use Spanish the most.
There is a number of evidence that shows that bilingualism is good for our brain and body health. For instance, it can help us delay the symptoms of dementia and to concentrate more.
Other health benefits of speaking more than one language include better ability to process information and social adeptness. It is also known that people who speak two languages can learn a third language faster (and easier) than a person who speaks only one language.
Access to all kinds of media
People who speak more than a language have a wider range of media they can consume. Moreover, being constantly in touch with a language is one of the best ways to retain it, since fluency is something that can be lost.
Most things in life have their ups and downs. This is the case of having a population who speaks more than one language. As much as bilingualism can bring economic benefits, this group faces difficulties that are hard to overcome.
It is significantly harder to develop a complete academic curriculum in two languages. This is especially true if the school tackles different subjects.
A student that can read, speak, write and listen fluently in two different languages must get in touch with the languages in question in different scenarios. That is precisely why it is so hard to overcome the education gap.
For instance, even having the second largest Spanish speaking population in the world, the United States also lacks qualified Spanish teachers and linguists.
That is because most of the Spanish-speaking population in the country learned it at home. In Dallas, almost two thirds of the K-12 people who speak Spanish most likely were not directly exposed to Spanish in the classroom.
The same research conducted by Texas Demographic Center found out that foreign-language use tends to phase out after three generations. In other words, this means that the proficiency of the population depends on the continued transmission of the language.
Children that have both parents dominant in English, for example, have a higher risk of dropping the Spanish language. On the contrary, people whose parents are bilingual or Spanish-dominant speakers have very high chances of speaking Spanish. 56% of bilingual parents raised their kids to speak both Spanish and English. While 34% of children with hispanic parents became bilingual.
As we mentioned above, this happens because most people do not formally learn Spanish in the classroom. Instead, they acquire the language in their personal lives. This way, English becomes the language that is learned in other stances in their lives, such as at school or with friends.
Reaping the rewards of bilingualism in a society means that we all have to face the challenges and the role that it brings to the place. We can not capitalize from it if we do not know how to deal with bilingual people in our culture and embrace them. Remember: investing in bilingual education today means a more competent workforce tomorrow.