The Census Bureau is busy crunching the numbers on the recently completed census, and on Thursday they made an announcement that probably won’t surprise anyone at Language ETC. The 2010 census shows America’s rapidly increasing ethnic diversity. The big story of the past decade: Latinos. And Latinas. And Asians, too!
Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino and Asian populations of the United States each grew by an astonishing 43 percent. Some of this growth came from immigration, and some from births (or natural increase, as demographers like to say). US Latinos, in particular, are a youthful population. The non-Hispanic white population, meanwhile, is aging and grew scarcely at all, by a mere 5 percent.
These trends are repainting the demographic map of the country. People who identify as Latino reached 16 percent of the US population, becoming the second-largest group after non-Hispanic whites. The Black or African American population, historically the second-largest group, is now third, with 13 percent. Asians come in fourth, with 5 percent.
There are now more than 50 million Hispanics in the United States, up from 35 million in 2000. One of every six people in the country is Latina or Latino.
What does this mean for us at Language ETC? To me, at least, it means that it’s time to get serious about learning Spanish. I know some, but not nearly as much as I’d like. Wouldn’t it be great to give our students an opportunity to teach us some of what they know? Maybe student-led Spanish classes for English-speaking teachers? It’s something to think about.
It also means that our work at LETC, helping immigrants learn English, is more important than ever. With the country becoming so diverse, all of us need to get comfortable hearing multiple languages spoken. But we also need English as a lingua franca so that Mexicans, Chinese, Ethiopians, Dominicans, Haitians and all the rest of us can all talk to each other, live together, and build the society together.
The full brief, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin, 2010, is available on the Census Bureau website.