Posted on March 13, 2015

A Quarter of Young Adults Now Use a Language Other Than English at Home

Christopher Brennan, Daily Mail, March 13, 2015

More than half of young adults in Los Angeles can fluently speak a language other than English, despite the fact that the city’s percentage of foreign born residents is decreasing.

Fifty-seven per cent of those aged 18 to 34, in LA spoke a language other than English at home, beating out Miami which had 55 per cent and San Jose with 54 per cent.

Roughly a quarter of the ‘Millenial’ generation nationwide uses another language, according to the American Community Survey.

Roughly 60 per cent of LA city residents age five and older speak a language other than English, with Spanish the most popular language among them.

In addition to a large number of Latino immigrants, Los Angeles also has large Middle Eastern, Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European communities.

However, the proportion of foreign-born adults in Los Angeles has actually decreased 9 percentage points to a little less than a third since 1990, and a large number of the Millenials with foreign language skills are thought to be bilingual.

The rise in bilingualism is probably caused by children continuing to speak their parents’ tongues in addition to English, according to Voice of America.

UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa said that the children and grandchildren of immigrants historically stopped learning to speak the same language of their ancestors, but that there has been a ‘sea change in the last ten years’.

Hinojosa said that languages beyond Spanish, second and third-generation immigrants will be encouraged to keep knowledge of Mandarin and other languages.

The American Community Survey collected data between 2009 and 2013 and found that 23.3 per cent of the population was between 18 and 34 years old, a fall from 30 per cent in 1980.

Data showed that the generation is less likely to be married and more likely to have gone to college than three decades ago, as well as more likely to speak a foreign language.

Areas that showed the highest rates for speaking something other than English were near the US-Mexico border in California and Texas.

New Jersey was found to be the third most likely state for a young adult to speak a foreign language at home.

West Virginia ranked last for the statistic with 3.63 per cent and Middlesborough, Kentucky, was the metro with the lowest percentage of young adults who could speak a foreign language with 0.034.

In contrast to Los Angeles, many US cities and states have seen significant increases in their foreign-born populations.

The United States as a whole saw its estimated foreign-born population decline 0.4 percentage points from 2000 to the American Community Survey.