Bi-lingual Hispanics Live With Ease in Both Worlds

According to a recent Ipsos U.S. Hispanic Omnibus study, U.S. Hispanics, regardless of whether their language preference at home is English (43%), or Spanish (52%), are turning to either language to meet their needs. When Hispanics turn on their televisions over half of them are tuning into an English language program.

Younger viewers are not the dominating presence in front of the English language small screen. Hispanics, aged 18-34, are actually less likely (54%) than older Hispanics, aged 55+, to prefer English language television (61%). And:

  • 52% of Hispanics aged 35-54  prefer English language television.
  • 45% percent of Hispanics with children in the household say that they prefer Spanish language television.
  • 63% of Hispanic households without children are highly likely to prefer English television
  • 80% of College educated Hispanics prefer English language television

Mixing languages does not complicate the lives of United States Hispanics who are living with ease in both worlds - one that is in English and the other that is in Spanish, concludes the report.

The person playing that Spanish beats music on radio is most likely to be a Hispanic female (51%), as they are more likely than Hispanic males (38%) to tune into Spanish radio. Among radio preferences overall, Hispanics are practically split as 49% stated that they listen to English language radio while 45% percent listen to Spanish language radio.

  • Hispanics aged 55+ are more likely to prefer radio in English than in Spanish (56% vs. 38%)
  • Among those 35-54, half (50%) prefer radio in English.
  • Hispanics, aged 18-34, are practically split among preference as 46% prefer English and 47% prefer Spanish radio.
  • 55% of all Hispanics said that their language preference for the Internet is English.
  • 39% of Hispanics age 18-34 prefer Spanish language internet sites
  • 42% of Hispanic females prefer Spanish when surfing the web compared to just twenty nine percent (29%) of Hispanic men

53% of Hispanics read the news and they are looking for information in both languages:

  • 53% in English to find out the current affairs in their local U.S. city
  • 33% in Spanish to follow up with the news in their home country
  • 44% read Spanish newspapers that cover news in their community in the United States. 57%, with an annual household income under $50,000, do so

Cynthia Pelayo, Ipsos senior research manager, says "... many US Hispanics continue to speak primarily Spanish, among their peers, family and friends, to watch television in Spanish and to be involved in cultural community events that are mostly conducted in Spanish."

She goes on to note that their innate skill to utilize either language is an advantage in functioning in US institutions while preserving their Hispanic heritage.

With a sample of this size, notes the report, the results are considered accurate within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population adult homeowners in the U.S. been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

To read the complete Ipsos Whitepaper, please visit here.

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2 comments about "Bi-lingual Hispanics Live With Ease in Both Worlds".
  1. Donald Sloan from GBG Motionmedia , February 16, 2009 at 11:49 a.m.

    New immigrants are most likely to speak their home language for a generation or two, but few of them become "homeowners" as rapidly.

    The additional visual cues via TV (versus Radio) are a big help in understanding information so delivered.

    That same 2000 census lists Mexicans (58.5%) as the primary constituent of all U.S.-based Hispanics. Mexicans are not equally distributed across the U.S., rather they settle in specific enclaves. That bonding institutes conformity. Public reporting of lifestyle reality is depressed in such instances.

    There is a direct correlation between language preference and economic strata/status among all immigrants to the U.S. "Homeowners" indicate a bias. We see only one reference to income as "57%, with an annual household income under $50,000 (read Spanish newspapers)." How many is that?

    Radio is mobile, TV is not. In-home preferences will differ from exterior activity.

    We are given no indication of sample size used in this survey. Citizenship is also a factor favoring language assimilation. Illegals would surely be under-reported, yet remain a potentially viable study segment for these purposes.

    The cultural divide between Mexican immigrants, Puerto Ricans (9.6%), South Americans (3.8%), Cubans (3.5%), and all others (22.4%) can be vast. Most well-educated individuals would understand common Spanish. Those less formalized speakers and their localized home slang truly "muddy the puddle" when it comes to common comprehension. This could sway preferences.

    The study is badly skewed. Reliance on "homeowner" respondents, ignorance of enclaving, and non-recognition of the predominance of Latino residents from Mexico, combine to make the results quite suspect. All its proportional reporting is inadequate to that task.

    Finally, did the methodology used employ static response or the provision for follow-up? Further clarification of response is essential to this field of study.

  2. Dorian Smith from Bedrock Marketing, LLC , February 17, 2009 at 2:35 p.m.

    I would have to agree with Donald. As someone who has been immersed on a personal level in the US Hispanic culture (specifically Hispanic Caribbean in the greater NYC Metro area) for the last four years and counting, the results from this study seem backwards. 90% of the Hispanics I know in my age group (Gen Y) prefer English to Spanish, and only use Spanish when dealing with their relatives from older generations who don't feel comfortable conversing in English.

    Likewise, many Gen Y Hispanics prefer English language (mainstream) television to Spanish oriented, with the exception of programmng like MTV Tres. It is usually the older demographics (Baby Boomers & WWII) who prefer to watch everything and do everything in Spanish. And yes, Gen Y Hispanics do enjoy listening to their own cultural specific music (Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Reggaeton) but they are just as likely to enjoy other forms of music (Hip Hop, Rock, etc.) with as much ferver.

    Like Donald mentioned, I would love to know who was polled for this survey as it seems a complete contradiction to what one would experience in real life. Were all the respondents immigrants (legal vs. illegal)? Were they first generation? What part of the country was this? What country were the respondents from?