News

Research at the U: Spanish speakers in Miami are decreasing

Dr. Andrew Lynch courtesy University of Miami

Nearly 60 percent of Miami-Dade County residents declared Spanish as their first language in the 2000 Census. And while many people unfamiliar with the Miami area say the presence of Spanish in Miami is increasing, research conducted within the University of Miami’s Department of Modern Languages suggests otherwise.

“While Spanish can certainly be heard more frequently than English in many communities of Miami-Dade County, the fact is most second- and third-generation Hispanic-Americans rarely speak it with each other,” said Andrew Lynch, a professor of Spanish and Latin American studies and the director of the Spanish heritage language program.

In his research, Lynch has observed how use of the Spanish language is changing across three generations of Cuban Americans. His conclusions have revealed that there is a significant cross-generational decline of the language occurring in Miami and that fourth- and fifth-generation Cuban Americans are likely to speak little Spanish, if any at all.

“The situation in Miami is rather paradoxical- on the one hand, Miami is by far the most bilingual city in the nation and a center for Latin American commerce, entertainment and mass media, but on the other hand, U.S.-born Hispanics are growing up without having to formally learn or speak much Spanish,” Lynch said.

While his research does reveal a substantial trend occurring in Miami-Dade County, it confirms the fact that students in the United States are lagging far behind their European and Asian counterparts when it comes to learning how to speak more than one language fluently.

“I do not think multilingual education and cultural acceptance is emphasized enough for the globalized world we seem to be emerging into,” said sophomore Tiara Morrison, who is majoring in anthropology and minoring in modern languages.

Spanish greatly contributes to the unique culture that encompasses life in Miami, but the reality is, with such an influx of new immigrants to Miami from places outside of Latin America, the number of Spanish speakers may be on the decline, further demonstrating why multilingual education is so critical for students of the 21st century.

Research at the U is a new bimonthly column devoted to informing students of research happening on our campus.

Jonathan Lebowitz may be contacted at jlebowitz@themiamihurricane.com.

February 27, 2011

Reporters

Jonathan Lebowitz

Contributing news writer


3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Research at the U: Spanish speakers in Miami are decreasing”

  1. This is the very reason why we need dual language education (also known as two-way immersion)!

  2. I loved reading this! As a first-generation American, with Cuban roots, and a Miami native, I have been very surprised to see the decline in Spanish speaking among family and friends of my generation — in our 40s.

    I live in Nashville, TN and put more emphasis on teaching my daughter Spanish than many of my friends/family in Miami.

    We’re losing it, for sure.

    It can’t really be helped though, can it? We were raised in America and educated in English, even if Abuela made us speak Spanish at home. We think in English. And look at the waves of other immigrants before us — most have lost their Mother Tongue, even if they’ve kept some traditions and festivals.

    I publish an online magazine, The Tiki Tiki, focused on acculturated, bilingual Latinos. You’d be surprised by how many of us have to look up Spanish words and traditions on google!

    We’re trying to hang on, and keep our culture alive for our children, but it is obvious it will be uphill.

    Pero hay que tratar.

    Gracias!

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami coach Mark Richt called Darrell Langham’s amazing, 28-yard catch on fourth-and-1 ...

Darrell Langham is 6-4, but might as well be 8-4 — that’s how much he has grown in stature for the M ...

The Miami Hurricanes have done it again. For the second week in a row, the Canes rallied to win in t ...

Five of the greatest football players of all time were inducted into the Miami Hurricanes Ring of Ho ...

View photos from the Georgia Tech at Miami game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at Hard Rock Stadium in Mia ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

A summer 2017 excursion unlike any other united a group of University of Miami students and faculty ...

Darrell Langham's miraculous 28-yard catch set up Michael Badgley's game-winning field goa ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team wrapped up play Sunday evening at the 2017 Oracle/ITA ...

The University of Miami women's rowing team opened the fall portion of its 2017-18 schedule on ...

Freshman Bojan Jankulovski highlighted Day 2 competition on Saturday for the University of Miami men ...

The University of Miami volleyball team demonstrated skill on both sides of the ball Sunday, sweepin ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.