More Than English: A Study Finds That 22% of the U.S. Population - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

More Than English: Study Finds 22% of U.S. Population Speaks More Than One Language at Home

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FRUITLAND, Md.- For the Arce family in Fruitland, is not uncommon to hear more than one language at the dinner table.

"I want my children to know and be proud of where we come from," says Noelia Arce, who immigrated from Peru with her husband more than 18 years ago. "It was a challenge for us. Learning English and adapting but of our children the challenge is to keep our heritage alive."

One of their rules in their house is to speak as much Spanish as possible.

"At school we learn English and grammar but at home my parents speak to me in Spanish," says Sebastian Arce, Noelia's oldest son.

But the Arce are not the only ones speaking more than one language at home. According to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute, more than 44 million immigrants live in the United States, the highest number since the 1910's.

The study also shows that 22 percent of the U.S population speaks more than one language at home. Maryland is within the top 15 of the list with more than 1 million people speaking multiple languages. The main one is Spanish.

"This is a very natural thing from a trend forecasting perspective," explains Dr.  Memo Diriker, director of BEACON, Business Economics and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University.

"A better, more stable economy has a lot to do with this trend," explains Diriker. "There are jobs, people, companies, and organizations that need these people to come and work."

Diriker says that, particularly on Delmarva, the agricultural, aquaculture and tourism sectors are a big draw for immigrants.

"Some of them are entrepreneurs; it's not uncommon to see immigrants start their own business," adds Diriker.

Experts say immigrants offer opportunities for economic growth for themselves and the economy in general.

"Research shows us that when an individual is bilingual or trilingual, he or she can increase his or her earnings between 30 and 50 percent," says Diriker. "There are also stats that show very clearly that immigrants tend to be, in the aggregate, higher contributors than native borns."

For families like the Arce's, this translates to more opportunities to achieve their very own American dream.

"Being bilingual opens a lot of doors," says Noelia. "My older son will go to college next year and study business. Do you know how important is being bilingual for him? He's not only going to work with the American community but also with the Hispanic community too."

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