News / USA

    More Than Half of Millennials in Los Angeles Bilingual

    More Than Half of Millennials in Los Angeles Bilinguali
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    March 11, 2015 8:10 PM
    The city of Los Angeles, California, has one of the largest multi-ethnic group of millennials - those between 18 and 34 - in the United States, and more than half of them speak more than one language. Multilingualism may be common in some countries, but it is a new phenomenon in the United States. Elizabeth Lee in Los Angeles has details.

    The city of Los Angeles, California, has one of the largest multi-ethnic group of millennials - those between 18 and 34 - in the United States, and more than half of them speak more than one language.  Bilingualism may be common in some countries, but it is a new phenomenon in the United States.

    Maria Elena Burgos, cooking a Mexican breakfast, says that this is just one of the many traditions in her home.  Another one is making sure her children speak Spanish.  

    “We want them to be bilingual. We want them to keep the Spanish somewhere in their learning too, not only at home,” said Burgos.

    When Burgos immigrated to the United States from Mexico, she learned English.  She knew English would come easily for her five American-born children, so she wanted them to speak Spanish at home and learn it at school.  She says it will give them more opportunities in the future and allows them to communicate with their relatives in Mexico and El Salvador.

    “When we had our children, one of the decisions we as parents decided was to name them with a name that was easily pronounced in English and Spanish because we have family in Mexico and in El Salvador,” Burgos said.

    Her children, including daughters Elizabeth and Monica, appreciate the fact that they speak English and Spanish.

    "The culture -- to go back to our roots because that’s part of who we are,” said Elizabeth.

    “It’s nice to know our culture and then to be able to pass it onto our children and grandchildren and everyone to let them know where we come from,” Monica added.

    ‘Sea change’

    The U.S. Census Bureau says more than half the adults in the Los Angeles area between 18 and 34 years old speak a language other than English at home  -  compared to 25 percent nationwide.  While the number of bilingual speakers has increased when compared to the 1990s, the number of foreign-born millennials in L.A. has decreased.  Many immigrant parents are passing their native language on to their American-born children, says University of California Los Angeles professor Raul Hinojosa.
     
    “I’ve definitely seen a sea change in the last ten years,” he said.

    Hinojosa says historically, the children and grandchildren of immigrants would stop speaking the parents’ native language.  But now the opposite is true.  The next generation is encouraged to maintain the language of their immigrant parents.
     
    “That was unexpected historically and I think it’s going to have a huge impact both obviously in terms of the Latino population going forward but probably other generations, other demographies that are now also making the choice not to eliminate the original language but follow the same path of pride," Hinojosa said. "Mandarin is going to be encouraged.  Japanese is going to be encouraged.  Vietnamese is going to be encouraged.”  

    Los Angeles may be seeing this change now, but Hinojosa says as the number of minorities continue to grow in the U.S., bilingualism will spread to the rest of the country.

    “There’s a real fundamental ethno-racial transformation which is now permanent and will continue in the United States and it is inevitable that by the end of the century the entire country will now be definitely majority not-white in origin,” he said.

    Hinojosa predicts this trend will spur a growing interest in learning multiple languages.  Meanwhile, Monica Burgos says in addition to English and Spanish, she has even learned some Korean in school.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora