Onda Latina

The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Should I Speak English Or Spanish?
Program #

Richard Goodman
Richard Goodman
Nov 22, 1976

Should I Speak English or Spanish?

Host Richard Goodman examines the use of Spanish among Mexican Americans and the factors that have affected its use. Although, people in the Southwest have spoken Spanish for hundreds of years, it use has varied over time in part due to the pressure for Mexicans to assimilate. Before World War II, Spanish was the most-used language in the Southwest. After the War, Chicano veterans came home with a newfound pride in their identity as well as a desire to acculturate into mainstream society. Many Mexican Americans during this period believed that knowing English would enable them to fully benefit from their American citizenship, and they founded groups like the League of Latin American Citizens,that taught English to their communities.

The pressure to speak English also came from Anglo society, which associated speaking Spanish with low status. Children in schools were punished and ridiculed for speaking Spanish. Moreover, society delegitimized Mexican American Spanish as corrupted and incorrect.

This situation has improved since the early 1970s. The Chicano Movement has emphasized Chicano cultural pride and has encouraged speaking Spanish. Bilingual programs have sought to maintain proficiency in both English and Spanish. Goodman concludes that perhaps with these improvements, one day all Mexican Americans will be bicultural and bilingual.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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