Newspaper article

Minnesotans Speak More Than 100 Languages at Home, New Data Finds

Newspaper article

Minnesotans Speak More Than 100 Languages at Home, New Data Finds

Article excerpt

French. Tagalog. Arabic.

Those are just a few of the more than 100 languages -- besides English -- spoken in Minnesota homes, a U.S. Census Bureau data release Tuesday finds.

Those languages include German, Russian and Chinese as well as Native American languages such as Ojibwa, Menomini and Dakota.

Languages other than English spoken at home in Minnesota

* Includes Oromo, Somali, Sidamo and other East African languages.

** Includes Cantonese, Mandarin and other Chinese languages.

*** Includes Patois and Cajun.

After English and Spanish, Asian and Pacific Islander languages are the most widely spoken ones in Minnesota homes. In Ramsey County, more than 28,700 people speak Hmong, the most spoken language (other than English) in the county, followed by Spanish, 25,290. Other languages spoken there include Swahili, Finnish and Hebrew.

The study, which is based on American Community Survey data collected from 2009-2013, also highlighted lesser-known languages spoken by thousands of Minnesotans: Tamil, Bisayan, Krio, Czech and many others.

Andi Egbert, assistant director of the MN State Demographic Center, said her team intends to spread the word so community- serving organizations know about the new data resource.

"Without having data, specifically about language, we don't know how to best reach out to people in a language that's most comfortable to them," Egbert said. "We're just so delighted that much more detailed data has been released."

Egbert explained that she isn't surprised that there is so much richness of language in Hennepin, Dakota and Ramsey counties: "They're gateways for people arriving from places all around the world. They're the most rich and the most diverse in culture."

Languages in schools

In Minneapolis schools, 75 percent of classrooms have at least one student who speaks a language other than English, according to data from the Minneapolis Public Schools. In addition, 100 percent of MPS teachers will have students for whom English isn't their first language over the course of their careers. …

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