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Language spoken as a child

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults of Hispanic origin or ancestry, LANGCHILD reports answers to the question, "Which language did you use as a child?" Interviewers handed respondents a flashcard listing the following choices: "Only Spanish," "Mostly Spanish," "Spanish and English about the same," "Mostly English," "Only English," "Other Language." According to the Field Representative's Manual for 2000, if a respondent gave an answer that did not fit one of the response categories, the interviewer was to direct attention back to the flashcard with the probe, "Please pick the closest answer you can."

Rationale for Inquiry 

LANGCHILD was the second question in a series about language use intended to measure "Hispanic Acculturation"; the first question in the series collected comparable information about the language the respondent generally spoke now (LANGSPEAK). The Manual described this section on "Hispanic Acculturation" as follows:

It is based on a scale developed by Mexican American researchers and asks about the use of Spanish and English in daily life. Along with questions about country of birth from the core, it helps identify the degree of acculturation of the Hispanic population with the English-speaking majority. We can assess the relationship between acculturation status and knowledge and attitudes about cancer risks and prevention. It will also help us target sources of information about cancer and cancer risk factors to the growing Spanish-speaking population of the United States.

Related Variables 

If respondents did not indicate "other language" for LANGSPEAK and LANGCHILD, they were also asked the language they usually used for reading (LANGREAD), speaking at home (LANGHOME), speaking with friends (LANGFRIEND), thinking (LANGTHINK), listening to the radio (LANGRADIO) and watching television (LANGTV).

The 2000 Manual explained why these follow-up questions were skipped when "other language" was chosen for both the language generally spoken now and for the language spoken as a child:

The original questions were developed by Mexican-American researchers whose test populations spoke English or Spanish. But other languages are spoken in some Hispanic countries such as: Portuguese in Brazil, German in Argentina, or French in the Caribbean. If the respondent spoke mainly another language as a child and as an adult, it did not make sense to keep asking about the ratio of English to Spanish in his or her usual activities.


This variable is only available in 2000.


  • 2000: Sample adults age 18+ of Hispanic origin or ancestry.


  • 2000