Special Report

The Most Commonly Spoken Foreign Language in Each State

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21. Massachusetts
> Most popular language: Portuguese
> Residents who speak Portuguese at home: 167,442
> Portuguese-speaking population: 2.5%

It’s fitting that the largest Portuguese festival in the world is held in the state that has the most Portuguese speakers. A total of 219,173 people in Massachusetts have ancestors from Portugal, and another 75,696 residents trace their ancestry to Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language.

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22. Michigan
> Most popular language: Arabic
> Residents who speak Arabic at home: 146,370
> Arabic-speaking population: 1.5%

Michigan is one of six states where Arabic is the leading spoken foreign language, aside from Spanish. There are 146,370 state residents who speak the language, or 1.5% of Michigan’s population. Michigan is home to the largest share of residents with Lebanese and Iraqi ancestry, both of which are Arabic-speaking countries.

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23. Minnesota
> Most popular language: Hmong
> Residents who speak Hmong at home: 64,736
> Hmong-speaking population: 1.2%

The Hmong is an ethnic group living predominantly in China and Southeast Asia. According to the Census, about 219,250 people in the U.S. have Hmong ancestors. In Minnesota, about 29% of that number claim Hmong ancestry.

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24. Mississippi
> Most popular language: Muskogean languages
> Residents who speak Muskogean at home: 4,507
> Muskogean languages-speaking population: 0.2%

The leading spoken foreign language in Mississippi is a group of six Native American languages called the Muskogean languages. The Choctaw and Chickasaw are two peoples under the Muskogean classification, and both are prevalent in the state. About 21,992 state residents have Native American ancestry, yet only 4,507 speak one of the six Muskogean languages.

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25. Missouri
> Most popular language: Chinese
> Residents who speak Chinese at home: 16,789
> Chinese-speaking population: 0.3%

Missouri is one of seven states where Chinese is the most commonly foreign spoken language after Spanish. Nearly 24,600 state residents have Chinese ancestry, yet only 16,789 currently speak the language at home. For the nearly 8,000 people who don’t speak Chinese but have ancestry, it could be the case that their Chinese ancestors are more distant.