Rising share of Hispanics speak proficient English, report finds

Monolingual Hispanic students raise their hands to answer a question during a class taught in Spanish at Birdwell Elementary School in this September 11, 2003 file photo taken in Tyler, Texas. A Pew Research Center report released Tuesday, May 12, 2015, found 68 percent of Hispanics spoke only English at home or spoke English very well in 2013, up from 59 percent in 2000.
Monolingual Hispanic students raise their hands to answer a question during a class taught in Spanish at Birdwell Elementary School in this September 11, 2003 file photo taken in Tyler, Texas. A Pew Research Center report released Tuesday, May 12, 2015, found 68 percent of Hispanics spoke only English at home or spoke English very well in 2013, up from 59 percent in 2000.
Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images

A rising share of Hispanics in the United States speak proficient English and the percentage of those speaking Spanish at home has been declining, researchers said Tuesday.

A Pew Research Center report found 68 percent of Hispanics spoke only English at home or spoke English very well in 2013, up from 59 percent in 2000. The share of Hispanics speaking Spanish at home dropped to 73 percent from 78 percent over the same period.

The shift comes as migration to the United States from Latin America has slowed.

"This is part of a broader trend, which is the U.S.-born driving many of the characteristics of the community, and it is only going to become more amplified," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research.

Even so, the number of Hispanics who speak Spanish at home reached a record 35.8 million because of overall growth in theHispanic population. The report, which was based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, found that the number of Hispanics who speak proficient English also hit a record 33.2 million.

About half of U.S.-born Hispanics speak Spanish, and about half of their children retain the language, Lopez said. The recent rise of English-language media geared toward Hispanics is responding to this trend, he said.

According to the report, 89 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics spoke proficient English in 2013, up from 81 percent in 2000. ForHispanic immigrants, English proficiency was greater among those with higher levels of education, the report showed.

In California, Rene Amel Peralta, 28, said he's increasingly used English as he pursues his college degree in chemistry. He said he had all but stopped using Spanish — the only language he knew until he came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 13 — but has started speaking it again more recently to reconnect with his culture.

"Since I am getting a university education, my English language is becoming more academic, something I don't have at all in Spanish," he said. "In Spanish, I have the very basics. It is basically street Spanish."