Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning English

Via Matt Yglesias and Made in America, evidently today's Spanish-speaking immigrants pick up English significantly more quickly than previous waves of immigration, though slightly more slowly than today's non-Spanish-speakers:

It seems clear that today's immigrants are not taking longer to adapt linguistically than in the past, and one can only assume the acculturation goes beyond mere language. I wonder what the reason for the difference between then and now is: better schools, less clustering in ethnic ghettos, more familiarity with English upon arrival, a variety of other factors I've not thought of?


RRD said...

A wide variety of personal experience in time, situation and location points to this points to this being false.
In Southern California, Denver and Texas the percentage of Mexican immigrants that speak english well or frequently approaches nil. I am married into a large Mexican family and other than my wife none of them speak or wish to speak more than rudimentary english. The study say that they know and "use" english. I suspect they "use" english much like I use my restaurant French

pc said...

It does seem possible that the standard for speaking english is open to interpretation, and what is 90 percent for the study's authors may not be 90 percent for other people. However, my own experience and the vast majority of such studies that I've come across do not indicate that Mexican immigrants' English skills "approach nil" even after several years of living in the US. In fact, even for Mexicans living in the Mexico, English skills are nowhere near "nil".