Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Foreign Languages BA


Foreign Languages and Literature

First Advisor

Carmen Carracelas-Juncal, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Foreign Languages and Literature


The Spanish language is very prominent in the United States. Millions of Spanishspeakers live there, and the use of the language in their day to day lives has augmented the presence of it in an otherwise Anglophone country. However, there are certain factors that may influence how often Spanish speakers actually use their language in this country. This study sought to analyze two: the existing anti-Hispanic attitudes in the United States and the parental/caretaker level of education of Spanish-speaking people. This study aimed to conduct an analysis of college-aged Hispanic students in order to conclude the extent to which those two factors may influence Spanish language retention. A sample population of 44 Hispanic students from the University of Southern Mississippi completed a survey through which they reported their experiences of being Spanish speakers in this country. The results from this study were analyzed and compared to existing research on language development, language retention, and societal attitudes toward Spanish speakers. The data from this study revealed that negative societal perceptions of Spanish speakers still have negative effects toward Spanish use. Those negatives effects include an avoidance or abandonment of speaking Spanish. This study also found that a parent’s education level could influence the confidence their children have in the language, thereby also influencing Spanish use and possibly language retention. Additionally, this study found that the encouragement or lack of encouragement from parents heavily influences the confidence some Spanish speakers have in their language skills; this confidence in turn influenced participants’ use of the language, which has important implications for the retention of the language.