The Five Most Common Native Languages of English-Learners
Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole are the top five home languages for English-language learners in the nation’s K-12 public schools, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.
“The Biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program” offers an in-depth look at the prevalence of the languages among the nation’s K-12 English-learner population.
Altogether, more than 80 percent of the nation’s English-learners are native speakers of one of those languages, but there is lots of linguistic diversity among the nation’s English-learners: 44 languages were represented among the individual states’ top five most commonly spoken languages during the 2013-14 school year, the report found.
The study, delivered to Congress at the end of September, uses data from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years to examine the state of English-learner education in the United States.
Here’s an overview of the data on the most common native languages of English-learners:
In the 2013-14 school year, 10 states reported that at least 80 percent of the English-learners enrolled in public K-12 schools were native Spanish speakers. Here’s a look:
All but five states reported Spanish as the most common language for English-learners. Those five states, along with the most common languages in each, are: Alaska (Yup’ik languages); Hawaii (Iloko); Maine (Somali); Montana (German); and Vermont (Nepali).
The number of English-learners reported as speaking Arabic increased by 157 percent between the 2006-07 and 2013-14 school years. The 2006-07 school year marked the first time the biennial report listed the number of Arabic-speaking English-learners. Even with the growth, Arabic speakers represent just about 2.5 percent of all English-learners.
Overall, Arabic is among the top five native languages for English-learners in 36 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Here’s a look:
The number of English-learners reported as speaking Chinese increased by 195 percent between the 2006-07 and 2013-14 school years. The 2006-07 school year marked the first time the biennial report listed the number of English-learners with Asian or Pacific Islander languages. Here’s a look:
Overall, native Chinese-speaking students represent about 2.4 percent of all English-learners. The report does not distinguish between Cantonese and Mandarin speakers.
The percentage of English-learners whose native language is Vietnamese is 1.9 percent, the same percentage as it was in the 2006-07 school year. However, the overall number of Vietnamese-speaking English-learners has declined over that period, dropping from nearly 86,000 to about 80,000—a more than 5 percent decline.
The decline of English-speakers of Hmong, another Asian-Pacific Islander language, took an even more dramatic drop, falling by 57 percent. (See the chart above for more detail)
5. Haitian Creole
Haitian Creole replaced Hmong in the category of five most common languages spoken by English-learners nationwide in the 2012-13 school year. The Haitian Creole-speaking English-learners are largely concentrated in four states, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Here’s a look:
Haitian Creole remained among the top five languages during the 2013-14 school year, despite a 4 percent decline from the previous year that brought the population down to roughly 35,500.
What About American Indian and Alaska Native languages?
A declining number of states identify an American Indian or Alaska Native language among the five most common native languages of English-learners, dropping from 10 in 2012-13 to seven in 2013-14.
The seven states where an American Indian or Alaska Native language were among the most common languages are: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah. The states that dropped from the list are: Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
The biennial report captures data on eight American Indian and Alaska native languages or language groups.
Here’s a copy of the full report:
Biennial Report to Congress… by on Scribd</p >
Images: U.S. Department of Education, office of English-language acquisition
Photo Credit: Kindergartner Ava Josephine Mikel and teacher Priscilla Joseph dance to Haitian music during a game of “freeze dance” at Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy, a Haitian Creole dual-language program at Mattahunt Elementary School in Boston. More dual-language programs are cropping up in districts around the country.
Prior Experience Working with Youth of Color Linked to More Multicultural Awareness
Student teachers with more multicultural awareness foster more positive classroom environments for their students, finds a new study by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and published in the Journal of Teacher Education.
However, multicultural awareness varies considerably among future teachers based on their own race or ethnicity and prior experience working with youth of color.
Multicultural awareness – which refers to an awareness of, comfort with, and sensitivity toward issues of cultural diversity in the classroom – is crucial to teachers’ abilities to promote positive outcomes for all students. Despite decades of policy reforms that emphasize the importance of multicultural awareness, few comparative studies have examined its prevalence in students preparing to be teachers (also known as preservice teachers) or the link between multicultural awareness and future teachers’ measured competencies.
“In light of the persistent demographic divide between a predominantly White teaching force and evermore racially and ethnically diverse schools, current and future educators’ abilities to create inclusive classroom environments are critical for fostering student success,” said Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, assistant professor of international education at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author.
In this study, the researchers used unique data of preservice teachers’ beliefs and student teacher performance assessments to ask whether levels of multicultural awareness vary by characteristics such as race and ethnicity, education, and prior experience working with diverse youth, as well as whether multicultural awareness shapes teaching competency.
Surveys on multicultural beliefs were collected from 2,473 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in teacher certification programs at a private U.S. university between 2010 and 2015. About 60 percent of the students surveyed (1,498) were also observed and evaluated by master teachers while student teaching.
The researchers found that multicultural beliefs are tied to student teachers’ ability to create strong and nurturing classroom environments, measured during student teaching observations by master teachers.
“Our study underscores the importance of equipping all teachers with essential multicultural knowledge, skills, and dispositions,” added Cherng.
The researchers also found that Black and Latino preservice teachers report greater multicultural awareness than their White counterparts. Asian American preservice teachers report having the least multicultural awareness.
“These differences are consistent with prior research that finds that Black and Latino teachers, drawing upon their own identities and experiences as racial minorities, are often more aware of and sensitive toward cultural differences,” said Cherng. “What is less clear is why Asian Americans report having lower levels of multicultural awareness. It is possible that Asian American student teachers believe that multicultural education, like other discourses on race that make little mention of Asian Americans, does not include or embrace their identities.”
Preservice teachers, particularly Latinos and Asian Americans, who had prior experience working with students of color had higher levels of multicultural awareness.
“This finding suggests that educators may develop a stronger racial consciousness through working with youth of color,” Cherng said.
Preservice teachers in different content area and grade-level programs reported different levels of multicultural awareness. For example, compared to future teachers in early childhood programs, those in math, science, and social studies programs had lower levels of multicultural awareness.
The researchers urge that their findings be used to inform teacher education policy and meaningfully focus both curriculum and instruction on preservice teachers that would benefit most from multicultural awareness.
The study can also inform teacher recruitment efforts. For example, since they found that prior experience working with youth of color is linked with more multicultural awareness, recruitment efforts could focus on community organizations that serve diverse youth.
“Through a deeper understanding of the relationships between preservice teachers’ background characteristics, multicultural beliefs, and evolving teaching competencies, our study contributes to our understanding of preparing teachers for diverse classrooms and prompts further investigation into developing cultural competence in teaching,” said Cherng.
Laura Davis of New York University coauthored the study with Cherng.
About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.
While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see—whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. The Love Has No Labels campaign challenges us to open our eyes to our bias and prejudice and work to stop it in ourselves, our friends, our families, and our colleagues. Rethink your bias at http://www.lovehasnolabels.com