Linguistic Isolation Still a Challenge for Some Kids in Immigrant Families

Posted March 9, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog linguisticisolationstillachallenge 2017

In Amer­i­ca today, 90% of the 18 mil­lion chil­dren liv­ing in immi­grant fam­i­lies were born in the Unit­ed States. Four­teen per­cent of all kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies have a hard time speak­ing Eng­lish, 21% live in lin­guis­ti­cal­ly iso­lat­ed house­holds, and 54% live with par­ents who have dif­fi­cul­ty speak­ing English.

By def­i­n­i­tion: Lin­guis­ti­cal­ly iso­lat­ed house­holds have zero indi­vid­u­als age 14 or old­er who speak only Eng­lish or who speak Eng­lish very well.

Nation­al­ly, the rate of lin­guis­tic iso­la­tion among chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies has dropped—from 26% in 2008 to 21% in 2015. At the state lev­el, the rate of lin­guis­tic iso­la­tion expe­ri­enced by these chil­dren varies: It is most like­ly in Louisiana (32%) and least like­ly in Mon­tana (3%).

Learn­ing Eng­lish — and becom­ing pro­fi­cient in it — can be a game-chang­er for immi­grant fam­i­lies. Par­ents and youth who can con­verse in Eng­lish are bet­ter equipped to access health care, secure employ­ment and engage with their com­mu­ni­ty. For these rea­sons, it is impor­tant that immi­grant fam­i­lies receive ser­vices that both meet their basic needs and pro­mote Eng­lish proficiency.

Children in Immigrant Families Living in Linguistically Isolated Households

Explore more demo­graph­ic data — at the state and nation­al lev­el — in the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

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