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July 1, 2011

Linguistic Diversity and Multiculturalism

by Changing Face of America

    Spanish as a Second Language?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,UNESCO, supports linguistic diversity and multilingualism. They say; “Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and the planet. There is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in attaining quality education for all and strengthening cooperation, in building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will…..”

According to figures from UNESCO, the top 12 most widely spoken languages, whether native speakers or speakers of a second language are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French. English is the dominating language for trade, commerce and business transactions world wide, but second to Chinese, Spanish is the second most widely spoken native language in the entire world.

  •    There are 400 million native speakers of Spanish across the globe and 500 million who, in addition speak Spanish as their second language.
  •   As for English, there are 328 million native speakers and between a whopping 450 million and 1.8 billion total English speakers across the globe.

If Spanish speaking countries were more strongly represented in the robust stage of Trade and Commerce, Spanish would be giving English a run for it’s money as far as international Linguistics and formal and informal Education were concerned, but that brings up an interesting point. The ethnic and linguistic demographics of the United States are changing.

The number of Hispanics counted in the 2010 US Census was nearly 1 million more than expected, based on the most recent Census Bureau population estimates. According to the analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, the 2010 Census count of Hispanics was 50,478,000. Most of these individuals are Spanish speakers. By comparison, the total U.S. population had a 2010 Census count of 308.7 million. According to spanishlanguageguide.com,  California alone has 5.5 million people who speak Spanish at home. Other states with high Spanish-speaking populations include Texas (3.4 million), New York (1.8 million), and Florida (1.5 million).

        Spanish Speaking’s slice of the American Pie

  • According to spanishlanguageguide.com, recently the top local TV newscast in the New York City area was Noticias 41, a Spanish-language broadcast. And Noticiero Univision, the newscast of a national Spanish-language network, beat out the big three network news shows.
  • About 5.8 percent of the people who use the Internet speak Spanish, making it the No. 4 language in the Internet community, following English (51.3 percent), Japanese (8.1 percent) German (5.9 percent). Close behind is Chinese, with 5.4 percent, followed by French with 3.9 percent.
  • A recent study of 25 metro markets in the United States found that Spanish-language programming was the sixth most popular format.

It may be our statistical duty as Americans to look at the facts that currently face our changing culture, norms and lets face it; our daily interactions with Spanish as a second language. Embracing the changes will make a better , healthy and fruitful future for all of the many faces of our diverse and beautiful country.

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