This Thursday, 22nd, at the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles, President Pedro Sánchez will take part in an event on the prestige and growth potential of Spanish and its cultures in the United States, organised by the university and the Cervantes Institute. His speech will take place nine days after the approval by the Council of Ministers of a Cervantes Institute centre in this mega-city, considered the Hispanic capital of the USA, and which will be the first on the West Coast of the United States.
Pedro Sánchez's conference will take place at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus (10745 Dickson Ct, Los Angeles) on Thursday 22 July at 12 noon (9 p.m. in Spain), and can be followed live on the Moncloa website and www.cervantes.es.
This will be the most cultural activity of the official trip - of a markedly economic and commercial nature - that the President of the Government is making to the United States, and which will take him to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In his speech at UCLA, Pedro Sánchez will describe the current presence of the Spanish language and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries in the United States, as well as his forecasts for growth in a country with more than 62 million people of Hispanic origin (almost one in five Americans).
Also taking part in the event will be UCLA Rector Gene Block, the Director of the Cervantes Institute, Luis García Montero, and the professor and Hispanist Barbara Fuchs, who has been distinguished by the Institute with the "Ñ" Award in its first edition for her work in the international dissemination of the Spanish language.
The Cervantes Institute has already begun the procedures to set up the new centre, which is expected to be operational in 2022. With it, the number of US cities with a Cervantes presence will rise to seven: New York, Chicago, Albuquerque, Seattle, Boston, El Paso and, soon, Los Angeles.
California is the state with the largest absolute number of Hispanics, with 15.48 million, according to the 2018 Census Bureau, followed by Texas (11.16 million) and Florida (5.37). And it ranks third in percentage of Hispanic population (39.15%), only preceded by New Mexico (44.77%) and Texas (39.42%), according to data contained in the '2020 Yearbook Spanish in the World'.
With the first opening of a centre in the largest city (but not the capital) of California, the Instituto Cervantes wants to contribute to the prestige of the Spanish language and increase the pride of Hispanics in their language, culture and heritage. The Hispanic community is by far the largest minority community in the United States. It is also the main engine of population growth in the United States.
The US population of Hispanic origin was (as of July 2020) more than 62.3 million, an increase of almost 12 million from 2010. The southwestern states (such as California) have the largest Latino presence, although the progressive geographic dispersion has been intense towards the northwest of the country and towards large cities on the east coast, such as New York.
Projections indicate that by 2060 the United States will have more than 111 million Hispanics, or 27.5 per cent (more than a quarter) of its population. Moreover, in two decades it will become the second largest country in the world in terms of the number of Spanish speakers, behind only Mexico and having overtaken Spain and Colombia. All these figures demonstrate the decisive importance of the evolution of the Spanish language in the United States.
In addition to the notable demographic growth of the Latino minority, there is an increasing interest in learning or perfecting Spanish. At all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education, it is by far the most studied language in schools. In primary and secondary schools, the number of students enrolled in Spanish courses is three times that of those enrolled in other languages. At university level it is also growing, and in the last 30 years more than five million American university students have studied Spanish.
The demand for Spanish in the workplace is also increasing year by year. Among American employers, Spanish is the most requested foreign language for their employees (85%), well ahead of Chinese (34%), French (22%) and German (17%).
Submitted by José Antonio Sierra, Hispanismo advisor