The number of English language learners is increasing in many school districts and the diversity of languages among the students is growing.
In Minnesota, the number of students who speak a primary language other than English has tripled in the past 20 years. In addition to Spanish, many of the students now speak Hmong and Somali, as well as other languages.
As more students rely upon English language learner programs in Minnesota, the program has become the fastest growing in the state.
The trend is more pronounced in some districts than in others. In St. Paul, Hmong is the most common language after English. Schools around the state report more than 250 languages among English language learners.
“Growth is not just happening in the big urban core — it’s happening everywhere,” said State Rep. Carlos Mariani. He is the executive director of the Minnesota Educational Equity Partnership.
“English language learner issues are higher now than they’ve ever been before in terms of governmental education policy,” he added.