Special Report

The Most Commonly Spoken Foreign Languages in Each State

Source: Thinkstock

21. Massachusetts
> Most popular language: Portuguese
> Residents who speak Portuguese at home: 189,445
> Portuguese-speaking population: 2.8%

It’s fitting that the largest Portuguese festival in the world is held in the state that has the most Portuguese speakers. The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament also sweeps the title as the largest ethnic festival in New England. A total of 225,342 people in Massachusetts have ancestors from Portugal. Another 70,977 residents trace their ancestry to Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

22. Michigan
> Most popular language: Arabic
> Residents who speak Arabic at home: 132,608
> Arabic-speaking population: 1.3%

About 1.3% of Michigan’s population speaks Arabic, making Michigan one of four states where Arabic is the most spoken foreign language. Close to 50,000 state residents are of Lebanese descent, the most frequently cited ancestry compared with other Arabic-speaking countries and regions tracked by the Census.

Source: Thinkstock

23. Minnesota
> Most popular language: Hmong
> Residents who speak Hmong at home: 61,380
> Hmong-speaking population: 1.1%

The Hmong is an ethnic group living predominantly in China and Southeast Asia. According to the Census, more than 236,902 Hmong people live in the United States. In Minnesota, more than 25% of that number speak the language and claim Hmong ancestry.

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24. Mississippi Done
> Most popular language: Vietnamese
> Residents who speak Vietnamese at home: 6,153
> Vietnamese-speaking population: 0.2%

According to the Census, 6,562 people in Mississippi have Vietnamese ancestry, about the same number of state residents who report speaking Vietnamese at home.

25. Missouri
> Most popular language: German
> Residents who speak German at home: 17,526
> German-speaking population: 0.3%

Again, we see the number of people with German ancestry well exceeding the number of people currently speaking the language at home, which means for many Missouri families German ancestors may be quite distant. In Missouri, the Census had documented just over 1.2 million people or, 18.1% of the state’s population, as having German ancestry, but only 0.3% of the population speaks German.