Page 41 - Latino Boom II

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P o r t r a i t o f L a t i n o U . S . A .
5 3
speak some, very limited, English—basically enough to converse
with her clients and maybe her landlord and her kids’ teachers—but
she is
not really
bilingual. She really is more Spanish-dominant than
It used to be that studies would classify people as being Spanish-
dependent, meaning they
function properly in an English-only
environment, which I think is a better way of measuring primary lan-
guage. But with the increase of native-born Latinos dominating the
demographics over the past two decades, the focus on language prefer-
ence and usage has turned to how this larger, amorphous group called
“bilinguals” behaves. I consider myself bilingual because I can function
fully in either language. I can read, write properly, and conduct busi-
ness in either language and often do, every day. That is not the case with
most people who call themselves bilingual. All I am saying is, be careful
when looking at data about language usage and preference.
One way to understand if your target is more Spanish dominant
or English dominant is by looking into the language spoken at home,
although that too can be inaccurate, especially for intermarried couples
(where one is Hispanic and the other is non-Hispanic), of which there
are more and more each day. In the end, the currency we all deal in as
marketers is TV audiences and so Nielsen’s definition (with all its flaws)
continues to be the gold standard, in my opinion.
The Nielsen Company breaks down the language usage among His-
panic adults by tracking the language in which Hispanics consume
media. Their 2012 report shows that a majority of Latinos, 56 percent,
still consume media only or mostly in Spanish, but also acknowledges
the emergence of English-language viewing amongst Latinos, with 44
percent watching mostly or only in English, as you can see in Figure
3.22. Bottom line, over 60 percent of all Latinos are bilingual and are
consuming media in both languages. What makes them choose one lan-
guage over another is the cultural relevance of the content, and that’s
why Spanish-language media still has the upper hand.
Perhaps what’s even more interesting about the latest Nielsen report
is the importance they see in the sustainability of the Spanish language