The ability to speak Spanish persists for a large share of second-generation Hispanics, with eight-in-ten reporting that they can converse either very well or pretty well in that language: Fully half  report that they can speak Spanish very well, and 30% report that they can speak it pretty well. An additional 16% of second-generation Latinos report that they can speak just a little Spanish, and 4% report no ability to speak Spanish.

Some 68% of second-generation Latinos consider it very important for future generations to be able to speak Spanish. Third-generation Latinos are equally as likely as their second-generation counterparts to state that retaining the ability to use Spanish is very or somewhat important.

The importance for future generations to retain the ability to speak Spanish is felt even more keenly among first generation Hispanics. More than eight-in-ten (82%) of foreign-born Hispanics feel that it is very or somewhat important.

While second generation Latinos place high importance on retaining the ability to speak their native language, they are  also highly proficient in English. The vast majority (93%) report they can speak English very well or well. However, less than half (48%) of foreign-born Latinos can converse in English either very well or well. One-fifth (20%) of Latino immigrants speak no English at all, and about one-third (32%) don’t speak the language well. Read more

Bruce Drake  is a former senior editor at Pew Research Center.