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US Hispanics Prefer English Media, Switch Easily between Languages

More than half of US Hispanics say they are most comfortable speaking Spanish, but a larger percentage prefer English-language broadcast, print and internet media and can switch easily between languages to get needed information, according to an Ipsos Omnibus study.

Some 52% of US Hispanics report speaking primarily Spanish at home, while 43% say they speak mostly English, the study found. Among Hispanics surveyed, the study found that regardless of language spoken at home, Hispanics overall take advantage of their bilingual abilities by using, accessing and enjoying media in both languages.

English-Language TV Dominates

More than half (54%) of Hispanics overall say they prefer to tune into an English-language TV program, the study found. Among these, older Hispanics are more likely to prefer English (61%), while 54% of 18-34-year-olds prefer English, and slightly more than half of Hispanics aged 35-54 (52%) prefer English.

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Additional findings:

  • 45% percent of Hispanics with children in their household say that they prefer Spanish language television.
  • Hispanic households without children are highly likely to prefer English television (63%).
  • College educated Hispanics overwhelmingly prefer English language television (80%).

Radio Preference a Closer Call

The choice between English and Spanish radio is a closer call than TV, Ipsos said, in part because of Spanish-language radio's association with Spanish music. Among radio preferences overall, 49% of US Hispanics say they prefer to listen to English-language radio, while 45% choose Spanish-language radio.Additional demographic findings:

  • Hispanic females (51%) are more likely than Hispanic males (38%) to tune into Spanish radio.
  • Hispanics age 55+ are more likely to prefer radio in English than in Spanish (56% vs. 38%); among those 35-54, half (50%) prefer radio in English.
  • Younger Hispanics, ages 18-34, are practically split among preference: 46% prefer English and 47% prefer Spanish radio.

Online in English
English is the leading language of preference for the internet among all Hispanic age groups, as over half of all Hispanics (55%) say their language preference for the internet is English. However, nearly forty-percent (39%) of Hispanics ages 18-34 prefer Spanish language internet sites, demonstrating that many younger Hispanics are closely tied to Spanish while online, Ipsos found. Moreover, 42% of Hispanic women prefer Spanish when surfing the web. This compares with just 29% of men.

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US News in English

While 56% of Hispanics prefer English-language papers, Hispanics look for information in both languages when they read the news, depending upon what they're seeking. They read English-language news to find out the current affairs in their local US city/town (53%), and in Spanish to follow up with the news in their home country (33%), the study found.More than four in ten Hispanics (44%) also read Spanish newspapers that cover news in their US community. This is most common among those with annual household incomes less than $50K (57%).

"US Hispanics are well equipped to live in the American society and function among US institutions, while at the same time preserving their Hispanic heritage," said to Cynthia Pelayo, Ipsos senior research manager. "Today, many US Hispanics continue to speak primarily Spanish, among their peers, family and friends, to watch television in Spanish and to be involved in culturalcommunity events that are mostly conducted in Spanish. Yet, the ability to utilize either language when needed is an innate skill and an advantage that many US Hispanics possess."

About the survey: The Ipsos poll was conducted Sept. 11 - Oct. 6, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 513 Hispanics who were interviewed by telephone via Ipsos' US Hispanic Omnibus. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflected that of the actual US population according to data from the US Census Bureau.

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