The 2010 Census made a rare appearance on the hit TV series Glee. According to Politifact, a fact-checking service run by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times:
The plot of the Feb. 7, 2012, episode: Schuester enrolls in a night Spanish class taught by Ricky Martin’s character, David Martinez. (Yep, Mr. Schuester is a Spanish teacher whose Spanish es muy muy malo.)
Martin tells his students that they need to learn Spanish to function in the U.S. in the future: “Do you know that the U.S. Census believes that by 2030 the majority of Americans will use Spanish as their first language?” (Here’s a clip of Martin singing “Sexy and I know It” and “La Isla Bonita” on the episode.) Schuester uses Spanish as the inspiration for his weekly assignment for the Glee Club: sing a song by a Spanish artist or that includes Spanish.
We decided to take a short intermission from politics to test Glee’s claim about whether the Census Bureau believes the majority of Americans will speak Spanish as their first language by 2030.
The result of the fact check:
The census projected that by 2030 there will be about 85.9 million Hispanics out of about 373.5 million people in the U.S., representing about 23 percent of the population. That projection is compared to about 16 percent of the population (49.7 million people) in 2010. So it’s true that the Hispanic population in the U.S. is on track to grow.
But the census projections are about the number of Hispanics — not how many people will speak Spanish as their first language at home.