The Emerging Economic Value of Spanish in the U.S. Symposium: Hispanics and the Media

December 9, 2011

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Alejandro Escalona, Chicago Sun-Times contributing columnist, speaking as part of the "Hispanics and the Media" panel

The Emerging Economic Value of Spanish in the U.S. Symposium is a forum on the demographic change that the United States is experiencing due to the unprecedented growth of the Hispanic population. The opportunity for greater cooperation and commerce is driven in part by the dramatic increase in the use of Spanish in the United States to the point where there are now approximately 36 million people in the country who speak it. Spanish is now the second language of international communication. Additionally, one out of six U.S. residents is Hispanic, one out of five public school students is Hispanic, and a quarter of children born in the United States is Hispanic. By 2025, over half of American families will be multicultural. By 2050, the United States will be the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. According to estimates made by the U.S. Census Bureau, 132.8 million inhabitants will be Hispanic by 2050, almost three times the current 46.7 million, which means nearly one in three Americans citizens will be Hispanic.

A new corporate paradigm will have to evolve to address this emerging consumer mosaic and help keep the United States on the crest of this wave of demographic change. The Spanish language will be a natural component of the new framework, and the ability to speak Spanish in addition to English will increase in value in schools, media, scientific research, business, politics, and diplomacy.

But how should the United States capitalize on the rising value of Spanish domestically and internationally? How should the U.S. address Spanish in the school system? How are corporations facing this radical multicultural change in the U.S.? How to best manage the impact and growing influence the U.S. Hispanic population has on society, the economy and politics in the U.S.?

This symposium aims to open a national and international dialogue to generate ideas for leveraging these opportunities.

The "Hispanics and the Media" panel has the following objectives: Understand how Hispanics in the United States are viewed by the media in the United States, Spain, and Latin America; Understand the role the media can play in supporting social progress and economic growth for Hispanics; Promote opportunities for collaboration between these countries’ media sources in order to improve relations with Hispanics.

Speakers: Juan Manuel Benítez, host, "Pura Política NY1 Noticias"; David Alandente, U.S. correspondent, El País; Kristin C. Moran, associate professor, chair, Communication Studies, University of San Diego; John Trainor, general manager, Hoy Chicago; Alejandro Escalona, Chicago Sun-Times contributing columnist and former editor of Hoy Chicago. Moderator: Gerardo Cárdenas, senior manager of communications at AARP Illinois and editorial director of Contratiempo Chicago.

Recorded Friday, December 9, 2011 at the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago.