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The Future of Spanish in the U.S.

The general consensus about Spanish in the is that its use, in terms of the number of speakers and general “visibility” (mainstream media, advertising, etc.), is growing exponentially. And with record numbers of Spanish-speaking coming from South and Central America, looks like this will continue indefinitely. So, there is no doubt that thousands, millions of Spanish speakers are going to the U.S; the question, however, is this: Does the Spanish that immigrants take with them take root in the U.S or is it ultimately lost?

With more than thirty-five million people in the U.S. speaking Spanish as their main language at home, its use is certainly more than a blip on English’s radar. Add the large number of English speakers studying Spanish, be it in elementary school, at college, or as part of job training (medical professionals, govt. workers, etc.), and you have a very significant portion of the U.S. population with at least a basic ability to in Spanish. Bilingual programs are bigger now than they have ever been before, and businesses and corporations are spending more money than ever on . So why is there any doubt?

For one, studies have shown that Spanish is rarely passed on to third generation Hispanics in the U.S. Children that do learn both languages at a young age generally have a much greater proficiency in English than in Spanish, due to the educational system and sheer exposure to English. has also shown that even large numbers of immigrants cannot maintain a language that is not passed down by the generations. , for example, was once widely-spoken in the U.S., but due to events like World War I and II, immigration reform, etc., the current number of German speakers in the U.S. has dwindled to tiny enclaves.

So will the use of Spanish in the ultimately rise, fall or hold steady? That remains to be seen.