Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. EA 3.3 Difficulty speaking English

04/01/1997

Children who have difficulty speaking English may find that this difficulty limits their educational progress and their future employment prospects. They may also need special instruction in school to improve their English. Difficulty speaking English is most common among immigrant children and the U.S.born children of immigrants. In the last three decades, the great majority of immigrants to the U.S. have come from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

In 1995, of the 6.7 million children ages 517 in the U.S. who lived in homes in which a language other than English was spoken, 2.4 million (37 percent) had difficulty speaking English. This represents a slight increase from the 33 percent who had difficulty speaking English in 1979 (see Table EA 3.3).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.37 Thirty-three percent of non-Hispanic black children from homes where a language other than English was spoken had difficulty speaking English in 1995, an increase from 26 percent in 1979 (see Figure EA 3.3). Among Hispanic children from such homes, 42 percent had difficulty speaking English, up slightly from 38 percent in 1979. Nineteen percent of non-Hispanic white children from homes where a language other than English was spoken had difficulty speaking English in 1995. The proportion was similarly low in 1992 and in 1979, but was substantially higher (33 percent) in 1989.
 
 

Figure EA 3.3  
Percentage Who Are Reported to Speak English Less Than Very Well, Among Children Ages 5-17 Who Speak a Language Other Than English at Home, by Race/Ethnicity: 1995  

EA3_3.GIF

Source: Unpublished tables based on analyses of the November Current Population Survey for selected years. National Center for Education Statistics.
 
 

Table EA 3.3 
Percentage Who Are Reported to Speak English Less Than "Very Well," Among Children Ages 5-17 Who Speak a Language Other Than English at Home,  by Race/Ethnicity: 1979-1995

 
 
1979
1989
1992
1995
Number in 1995
(in thousands)
 




Total
33
38
35
37 
2,442 
 
Race/Ethnicity
 
 
White, non-Hispanic
17 
33 
20 
19 
219 
 
 
Black, non-Hispanic
26 
32 
33 
33 
73 
 
 
Hispanic
38 
39 
39 
42 
1,934 
 
 
Other
45 
39 
36 
32 
214 
 
Source: Unpublished tables based on analyses of the November Current Population Survey for selected years. National Center for Education Statistics.

 

37 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 

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