English-to-Spanish: Hispanic Immigrants in the United States

A 2007 report by the Pew Hispanic Center provides statistics about how Hispanic immigrants in the United States manage Spanish and English.

Here, we recap a few points that are of great interest for anyone involved with Spanish translations for the United States.

  • 52% of foreign-born Hispanics speak only Spanish at home.
  • Only 23% of Latino immigrants say they can carry on a conversation in English very well. However, for their adult sons and daughters, this figure rises to 88%.
  • Only 7% of foreign-born Latinos report that they speak English mostly or exclusively at home. In contrast, 48% of their adult sons and daughters speak mainly (or only) English with their own families.
  • English proficiency also correlates with educational level. 54% of newly-arrived adult Latino immigrants with college degrees speak English “very well,” compared with 34% for those with high school diplomas. Among foreign-born Hispanics without high school diplomas, only 11% say they speak English “very well.”
  • Ability of immigrants to speak English also varies according to country of origin. 52% of Puerto Rican immigrants say they speak English “very well,”, compared to 39% of South Americans, 31% of Cubans, and only 16% of Mexican immigrants.
  • 71% of Mexican immigrants say they speak little or no English, as do 64% of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, 62% from Central America, 57% from Cuba, 44% from South America and 35% from Puerto Rico.

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