Hispanic Influence on American Culture

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  • 0:04 Hispanic People
  • 0:27 Language
  • 1:01 Performing Arts
  • 2:09 Food
  • 2:43 Sports and Politics
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paulina Bouzas

Paulina studied Creative Writing and Literature in Mexico City and holds an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Eastern Finland.

With the Hispanic community in the United States growing each year, Hispanic influence on American culture is more visible than ever. In this lesson we'll look at Hispanic influence on different aspects of American culture and lifestyle.

Hispanic People

Hispanic people are those coming from areas where Spanish is spoken, especially from Latin America. In the United States, Hispanics are the largest minority (there are more Hispanics in the U.S. than in any other country, except Mexico!). Yet they have maintained their identity and culture and passed it on from generation to generation. Let's take a look at some of their influence on American culture.


Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States. This means that you have probably been in contact with some basic Spanish words, like hola (hello) and adiós (goodbye).

The states with the largest Spanish-speaking populations are California, Texas, and New Mexico. Because of its widespread use, some words like 'taco' and 'burrito' have made their way into the English language.

It's interesting to notice that Hispanic families tend to teach their children Spanish as a way of preserving their culture. This has led to many families becoming bilingual and being able to go back and forth between English and Spanish.

Performing Arts

We can find one of the most important sectors of Hispanic influence in the film and music industry. Some famous Hispanic singers have gained national and international fame. You may have heard their famous songs constantly being played on the radio. Can you think of some of these famous Hispanic singers? How about:

  • Ricky Martin, who sang the famous song, ''Livin' la Vida Loca'' and ''She Bangs''.
  • Jennifer Lopez, who appeared as a judge on American Idol and sang the best-selling song ''On the Floor''.
  • Enrique Iglesias, who sang ''Bailando'' and ''Hero''.
  • Marc Anthony, who was Jennifer Lopez's husband and sang ''Vivir Mi Vida'' from his salsa album.

These are just some of the singers that have been widely recognized for their music, both in Spanish and in English.

If we focus on the film industry, then we can't forget to mention celebrities like:

  • Penelope Cruz, who starred in Volver, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and Vanilla Sky
  • Antonio Banderas, who starred in The Mask of Zorro, Interview with the Vampire, and portrayed the voice of Puss in Boots in Shrek
  • Sofia Vergara, who stars in the TV series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado
  • Eva Longoria, who is famous for portraying Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives


Hispanic culture has deeply impacted American food. It's now common to ask for salsa as a condiment, to drink tequila, and to visit Mexican food restaurants nationwide. Fast food chains like Taco Bell and Chipotle have become increasingly popular, and dishes like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas are becoming the favorite of many.

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