A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Research Center showed some surprising trends in English speaking ability among Hispanics.
Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the United States of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English. By contrast, only a small minority of their parents describe themselves as skilled English speakers. This finding of a dramatic increase in English-language ability from one generation of Hispanics to the next emerges from a new analysis of six Pew Hispanic Center surveys conducted this decade among a total of more than 14,000 Latino adults. The surveys show that fewer than one-in-four (23%) Latino immigrants reports being able to speak English very well. However, fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. The numbers for recent immigrants - 23% fluency in English - is not as surprising as the high number of immigrant children who are comfortable with the language - 88%. This is probably in line with other immigrant groups in the past but was questioned when it came to Hispanics.
Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%. Reading ability in English shows a similar trend. As fluency in English increases across generations, so, too, does the regular use of English by Hispanics, both at home and at work. For most immigrants, English is not the primary language they use in either setting. But for their grown children, it is.
That number for adults also shows the power of American assimilation. Despite efforts of some Hispanic groups to resist the "melting pot" model and maintain Hispanic culture and language at the expense of assimilation, the desire to be "Americanized" apparently overrides any other pressures that may be placed on the immigrant's children. Update: Bookworm Room has a post on the same poll, exploring the curious positions of liberals on the issue. An excerpt:
Interestingly, the New York Times spins this report, not as a blow to the anti-assimilation bilingual education cadre, but as a blow to those who are opposed to illegal immigration. They don't seem to get that there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration, with the language debate having nothing to do with the latter issue.
Additionally, the Times-ites don't understand that, as to legal immigrants, this study supports those who are opposed to government policies that keep all immigrants, legal and illegal, from assimilating into American society through that most basic tool of assimilation: the English language. Indeed, just recently, people who believe in language as an important vehicle for immigrant aid were appalled that Nancy Pelosi allied herself with the Hispanic caucus and the EEOC to force the Salvation Army to stop its quaintly antiquated policy of requiring English language skills for holding a job. [snip] Incidentally, if you want to see what happens when a government engages in policies that prevent its immigrants from assimilating, just check out what's going on outside of Paris (riots, incidentally, that Sarkozy seems to have quelled thanks to an aggressive response). All of the MSM outlets are waffling on about how not enough government money is flowing into the banlieus, but you and I know that not enough French/Western culture and too few Judeo-Christian host county values (assuming Europe has any left) are flowing in — and one of the ways in which they flow is on language's back.
Incidentally, regarding values and language, I will remind you that ivory tower types love to point out that the Inuit language has practically a gazillion different words for snow. Language very much reflects value and culture — something George Orwell pointed out with startling clarity in 1984.