Around New England

Cape Cod Towns See Big Increases in Non-English-Speaking Students

October 14, 2019

One-third of the kindergarteners in Chatham this year are classified as “English language learners,” meaning English is not their first language — in a town where that used to be rare.

Public school districts all over Cape Cod have seen increases in students who used to be called “English as a second language.”

Statewide, that often means Spanish. On the Cape, it usually means Portuguese, since a significant number of Cape residents come from the Azores, Cape Verde, or Brazil. But none of the students at Chatham Elementary School speak either Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Even in Provincetown, which is known for its longtime Portuguese community, most of the 19.2 percent of students for whom English is not their first language do not speak Portuguese. Instead, many hail from Central America, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Statewide in Massachusetts, 10.5 percent of all students in the public schools during the 2018-2019 school year did not speak English as a first language, up from 7.9 percent during the 2013-2014 school year, according to state education department statistics cited by the Cape Cod Times.

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