Immigrants Learn English: Immigrant's Language Acquisition Rates by Country of Origin and Demographics since 1900
5 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 17, 2019
The ability to speak English is an important part of immigrant assimilation in the United States. In contemporary politics there is a concern that although earlier waves of immigrants learned English, newer cohorts are doing so at lower rates. This brief uses U.S. Census data to answer this concern and show that English language acquisition rates have increased over the past 100 years. About 91 percent of immigrants in the United States between 1980 and 2010 reportedly spoke English compared with 86 percent who lived here from 1900 to 1930. While immigrants with different backgrounds are more or less likely to learn English than others, our analysis unambiguously shows that today’s immigrants are more likely to learn English than immigrants in the beginning of the last century.
Keywords: immigration, assimilation, adaptability, English-speaking, English language
JEL Classification: F22, F2, F5, F52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation