UNITED STATES—According to reports, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the USA. Besides that, Spanish is also the most studied language in the USA after English. As a result, there are more Spanish speakers in the USA than German, Italian, Portuguese, French, and Chinese speakers. 

Also, because of the diverse nature of the inhabitants in the US, the population of Spanish speakers is different in each State. For example, California has around 10.4 million people speaking Spanish. When you check the history of California, you will discover that its first constitution acknowledged Spanish-language rights. 

The History of Spanish in California 

Historians also reveal that the Spanish language has been popular in the State since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in Los Angeles County in 1771 and established the Mission San Gabriel. 

There were also other Missions established by Spanish Catholic orders, for example, the Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans. Their mission was to spread Catholicism to Native Americans. However, they also played an important political role. 

They were used to create a Spanish presence to keep off European competition. They also kept the natives controlled through relocation and forced labor. As a result, by 1821, Spain had established up to 21 missions at the California coast.  

Other studies reveal that there was no English speaker in Los Angeles until 1818. During this year, it is reported that Spanish authorities captured American merchant sailor Joseph Chapman. 

Chapman was at the time riding on the California Coast from an Argentine privateer. After that, the merchant sailor decided to settle in Los Angeles. 

Pueblos (Spanish for Town) and Ranchos

While the missions were created to administer and house the native population, pueblos were set up for Mexican and Spanish settlers that moved north. The pueblos founded by the Spanish are San Jose, Los Angeles, Branciforte, and San Francisco. These pueblos were heavily guarded to protect them from native attacks. 

Apart from pueblos, the Spanish also controlled large parcels of land. These ranchos gave nobles and other important figures control over land, which they used for farming. All these places also served as centers for the establishment of the Spanish language in California.

The early establishments also have an impact on the modern-day naming of places and streets in California. For example, in Los Angeles County, you will find Spanish names for places and streets. Examples include: 

  • Marina del Rey
  • San Marino
  • El Segundo
  • La Canada
  • Alameda Street

The California Constitution

The California constitution, 1849, Article 11 Section 21, stated that all the laws, decrees, provisions, and regulations should be published in English and Spanish. Additionally, Spanish was the first non-native American language spoken regularly in Los Angeles. 

However, by 1870, the English speakers became the majority. In 1879, a new constitution was promulgated. The new constitution contained a clause that stated that English was the official language of the State of California (California Constitution, Article 3, Section 6). 

Nevertheless, Spanish remains a popular language in the State. Moreover, many government documents and services are available in Spanish and English. 

Los Angeles County has the largest Spanish speaking population

Several reports indicate that Los Angeles County has the largest number of Spanish speakers than any county in the USA. Statistics also show that Spanish is the second most spoken language at home in Los Angeles. For instance, the studies claim that almost 40% of Los Angeles residents aged five and above speak Spanish at home.

Therefore, if you are planning a trip to LA, you might want to learn how to speak Spanish fluently. This will enable you to enjoy the cultural diversity in the County.    

Importance of Speaking Spanish in California

First, speaking Spanish is a critical tool to help you connect with the Hispanic community that is growing in the USA, more so in California. The residents of California appreciate their diversity and that they have adopted a bilingual education system. This system incorporates English and Spanish language to teach various subjects in schools. 

Initially, proposition 227 had negatively impacted Spanish bilingual programs by mandating all instruction to be conducted overwhelmingly in English. However, because it did not bar the use of Spanish in teaching, there are dual language bilingual programs in the State. 

So, if you want to work or do business in California, you must appreciate their cultural diversity. If you don’t know any Spanish, it will help to find out how you can learn Spanish online or find a personal Spanish tutor for beginners. On the other hand, if you are a teacher and can speak Spanish fluently, you will find several job opportunities in the States. 

Bottom Line

The history of California makes it a culturally diverse community. Additionally, where there are different cultures, language becomes an integral tool for cultural integration. 

Each of the different communities must make an effort to learn the other community’s language for them to interact. This scenario has seen the number of Spanish speakers rise in California. 

Are you planning to make a trip to California? Well, knowing some Spanish would make you enjoy your stay in the State more!