Spanish Slowly Fading Away in New Hispanic Generations

LAREDO, TEXAS A bridge less than a mile away separates Mexico and Laredo allowing Spanish to easily cross into the city.

But as new research shows us, the Spanish languages is slowly fading away with new Hispanic generations.

Julian Peña and Seven Flores are two college students at Texas International A&M University.

They're both studying psychology; both speak English, and both share Mexican roots.

But, only one speaks Spanish. "Un poquito. Necesitamos mas practica."

Peña is a second generation Mexican-American.

"Some might be genuinely curious why I don't speak Spanish."

He rates his ability to speak Spanish as low.

"I am trying to do it now as much as I can."

Peña is part of a growing trend among Hispanics in the country being raised speaking mostly English.

"I wasn't really exposed to it when I was younger."

Dr. Sergio Garza is a bilingual education expert from TAMIU.

He believes society plays a factor that pushes teens like Peña to take on English as their first language.

"So, therefore, what actually happens is that then children tend to choose.

'Well, I better practice my English. I better learn English, because I am going to need it, and if I want to be successful then I better start using it,'" Dr. Garza says.

A recent Pew study finds 68 percent of Hispanic kids are growing up in homes where they only speak English.

That's up from up almost 60 percent back in 2000.

"So, eventually, when they are going to grow up, what's going to happen? 'We better speak English.

We're going to go to the university. We have better have English because there we're going to get our degrees.'"

A different study focused on children of Mexican-Americans finds Spanish is slowly fading away.

By the third generation, only 17 percent will speak it, and about five percent of the fourth generation.

Dr. Gonzales says a language is more than just speaking. "It gives you a sense of culture identity who you are and where you actually come from."

Seven Flores says being bilingual has opened his eyes to new cultural experiences.

He says, "Don't try to hide from one culture. Don't be embarrassed whatsoever. You'll see the benefits of being part of both cultures."

On Monday, we bring you the story of Seven Flores, a first generation Mexican-American immigrant, and his journey between two cultures.



 
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