Why build a Spanish LMS?
First, more and more of the schools with whom I’ve spoken this past year, individually and at conferences and meetings, have told me they need one and need one now. So I did some research and that brings us to the second point. The surprising facts:
Spanish is spoken by almost 400 million people worldwide. Even more compelling, when you realize that about half of the population in the Western Hemisphere speaks Spanish, it becomes the primary language for as many people as English in this region of the world.
Within the United States, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language after English, by a very wide margin, and the Spanish-speaking population within the U.S. is growing as a percentage of the total U.S. population every year.
· According to the U.S. Census, the number of Hispanics in the U.S. grew by 57.9% between 1990 and 2000 – from a total of 22.4 million people to a total of 35.3 million people. This figure means the United States has the fifth largest Hispanic population worldwide (trailing Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina – just barely behind Spain and Argentina).
· Of this group of over 35 million people, well over 3 out of 4 say that Spanish is their primary language.
· Within the United States, a total of over 28 million people speak Spanish at some degree of fluency. A few states have a large percentage of these Spanish speakers – California has 5.5 million, Texas has 3.4 million, New York has 1.8 million, and Florida has 1.5 million.
· In the U.S., the 28 million people who speak Spanish at home is well over half of the approximately 47 million people who speak a language other than English at home. That means that Spanish is spoken by more people than all other languages combined within the U.S.
· The 35 million Hispanics in the U.S. as of 2000 was projected to be close to 40 million people as of 2003. Moreover, by 2050, the number of Hispanics in the U.S is projected to grow exponentially to over 100 million people. At that point Hispanics will be about one quarter of the total U.S. population. That’s over triple the 2000 figure in a 50-year span.
· In the New York City area, the newscast on the Spanish-language Noticias 41 and Noticiero Univision, often have higher ratings than ‘the big three’ network news shows on CBS, NBC and ABC.
· Approximately 5.8 percent of Internet users speak Spanish, making it the 4th most common language among the Internet community, trailing only English (about 50%), Japanese (about 8%), and German (about 6%).
· A recent study of 25 metro markets in the U.S. found that Spanish-language programming was the sixth most popular format.
· It’s increasingly difficult to ignore the spread of Spanish in the United States. Bank ATMs offer instructions in Spanish. The Yellow Pages in many cities adds a Spanish-language insert. And Spanish is working its way into everyday use. Is there an American left who can’t order fajitas with spicy jalapeños using the proper Spanish-accented flair? (Say the J like an H: fah-hee-tas …)
· Over the past decade, the demand for Spanish Language courses worldwide has just about doubled, and the demand is almost as close in the U.S.
According to Paula Winke and Cathy Stafford of The Center for Applied Linguistics rapid demographic changes and an increasing recognition of the critical need for professionals who are proficient in languages other than English (Brecht & Rivers, 2000; Carreira & Armengol, 2001) have led to an interest in developing language programs and classes for “heritage language learners”. These are students who are raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken and who speak or at least understand that language (Valdés, 2001).
The fastest growing heritage language population in the United States is Hispanic Americans (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010), and the number of Spanish speakers studying Spanish is on the rise. As a result, language educators are developing programs, classes, and instructional strategies to address the needs of these students, which are different from those of native-English-speaking students studying Spanish as a foreign language.
Appropriate instructional materials are essential for these classes, which are often referred to as Spanish for Spanish speakers (SNS) classes. Although the development of SNS materials has a 30-year history, and many new SNS textbooks and materials continue to appear, developing a well-articulated sequence for SNS instruction continues to be a challenge (Peyton, Lewelling, & Winke, 2001).
So is anyone listening? Here is a tremendous opportunity for this large group to learn new career skills using their native Spanish language. Are we so Anglophile that we do not care? Let me know. I always value and look forward to your opinions on these important subjects