Fascinating data on languages here
20% or just over 60 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. This group is dominated by recent immigrants – unfortunately, many multi-lingual families do not successfully continue their multi-lingual skills across generations:
A study in Southern California found that even in an area with a very high percentage of non-English speakers, language proficiency falls quickly in each generation after the first to enter the country. In the study, more than 45% of immigrants who arrived as children under the age of thirteen were able to speak and understand a non-English language well (though they are not necessarily literate in these languages). By the third generation, fewer than one in ten were able to communicate well in their heritage languages.
While true, in general, there are also exceptions. Many German speakers in Wisconsin carried on the speaking of German through multiple generations, in the 1950s. There can still be more German spoken in some communities than one might expect.
One of my grandmother’s spoke Norwegian (she was of Norwegian ancestry and I heard her speaking Norwegian). Another grandmother was of Swiss German ancestry (both of her parents were from there), and we believe she spoke German. We have some translated letters that we think she translated from German into English. A grandfather may have had some skills in German – he grew up in Germantown, WI where, at the time, over 60% of the residents spoke German. My Dad had told me that he was, at one time, somewhat proficient in German. That is not farfetched as he attended a doctorate program at Columbia after WW II, and since even today they require a B1 proficiency in a foreign language, that seems plausible. While I heard him occasionally say short phrases in German, I never really heard him speaking German.
The point here is that in spite of prior generation’s language skills, none of it was passed along to me.
Since mid-2021, I have been studying Norwegian every day, and reviewing Spanish, although not every day.