November 29, 2007

English Usage Among Hispanics in the United States

VII. American Community Survey

A major source of recent government data about English-speaking ability is the American Community Survey, a household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Its questions are worded somewhat differently from those asked by the Pew Hispanic Center, and it does not include any questions about use of English or Spanish at work.

Overall, its findings are similar to those in Pew Hispanic Center surveys. (Table 1)

In the 2006 American Community Survey, among adult foreign-born Hispanics, including those born in Puerto Rico, 4% speak only English at home. The rest—96%—speak Spanish at home at least some of the time. Of those who speak Spanish at home, 26% say they speak English very well, 23% say they speak English well, 31% say they speak English not well and 21% say they speak English not at all.

The Pew Hispanic Center surveys found that 3% of adult foreign-born Hispanics speak only English at home. The vast majority (97%) speak at least some Spanish. Of those who speak some Spanish at home, 21% say they speak English very well, 13% say they speak English pretty well, 47% say they speak English just a little and 18% say they speak English not at all.