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Lancaster County students speak more than 70 different languages; what are they?

Classroom globe

A classroom globe via Flickr

To realize how much of a melting pot Lancaster County is, look no further than its schools.

Lancaster’s 17 school districts are home to more than 3,600 students who speak a language other than English. Together, they speak over 70 different languages.

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While some schools pride themselves on their diversity, more students not speaking English means more money spent on language support services such as English language learner programs.

LNP | LancasterOnline recently analyzed 2018-19 ELL data, the most recent available, from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to find out more about the languages students here speak. Here’s what we found.

Other than English, what are the most common languages spoken?

Spanish is the clear and unsurprising runner-up to traditional English with 2,378 students speaking the language. Other frequently spoken languages include Arabic (158 students), Nepali (157), Swahili (134) and Barbados English (123).

Which are the least common?

There are 25 languages which only one Lancaster County student speaks. Here they are: Bengali, Akan, Bosnian, Hakka Chinese, Yue-Cantonese Chinese, Portugese-based Creoles and pidgins, Filipino, Germanic, Haitian, Hindi, Indonesian, Kikuyu, Kumyk, Latin, Malayalam, Manobo languages, Marathi, South Ndebele, Nilo-Saharan, Nyanja, Polish, Romanian, Tigrinya, Tsuwana and Twi.

Where are some of these languages spoken?

Many of the languages perhaps unknown to people here are African languages, such as Afar, Akan, Amharic, Dinka, Ewe, Kikuyu, Kinyarwanda, Kru, Nyanja, Oromo and Twi. Others, like Gujarati, Kachin, Khmer, Malayalam, Tagalog and Telugu, are Asian.

Which district comprises the most languages?

School District of Lancaster, by far, has the most students who speak languages other than English with 2,059 — about 19% of its student body. It’s also the largest school district with 11,080 students.

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Here’s the list: Spanish (1,517 students); Swahili (110); Nepali (101); Arabic (64); Burmese (52); Karen (43); Haitian Creole (34); Somali (19); Kinyarwanda (16); Afar, Vietnamese (14); French (10); Oromo, Pashto (7); Khmer (6); Amharic (5); French-based Creoles and pidgins, Kachin, Turkish, (4); Afrihili, Lingala (3); Albanian, Kru (2); Akan, Mandarin Chinese, Dinka, Filipino, Haitian, Japanese, Manobo languages, Nyanja, Russian, Tagalog and Twi (1).

Seven languages were undetermined.

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Which districts comprise the least languages?

Students at Columbia Borough and Octorara Area each feature just two languages other than English among its students, the data shows. At Columbia, 45 students speak Spanish and eight speak Arabic. At Octorara, 66 speak Spanish and one speaks Gujarati.

What about other districts?

Other than School District of Lancaster, Columbia and Octorara, here are the amount of languages spoken by students at other county school districts: Cocalico (nine languages, 59 students), Conestoga Valley (19, 206), Donegal (seven, 56), Eastern Lancaster County (13, 63), Elizabethtown Area (nine, 86), Ephrata Area (18, 125), Hempfield (30, 297), Lampeter-Strasburg (eight, 32), Manheim Central (nine, 28), Manheim Township (27, 152), Penn Manor (17, 165); Pequea Valley (three, 55), Solanco (six, 68), Warwick (12, 58).

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