Learn the rich language of Hmong speakers

St. Paul’s Magnet School located in Frogtown was the first country in America to offer a dual language program focusing on the Hmong culture and language and English. The school began its operations in 2006/2007 school year, with one kindergarten class and one first grade class and it has made a lot of progress since then. The school uses a 90/10 model, where 90 percent of the school instruction is done through Hmong and the other 10 percent of instruction is done through English, with students being introduced to more English as they progress in their grades. The school is majorly attended by students who speak Hmong as their first language. The advantage of attending the dual immersion program is that it helps someone who is not familiar with the language to acquire the language.

Hmong is spoken by 2.6 million people in China, Thailand, Northern Vietnam, USA, Laos and French Guiana. In China Hmong is referred to as Miao and is written using Chinese characters. The Thai alphabet is used in Thailand while the Pahawh alphabet is used in Vietnam. Currently, most Hmong speakers use the Romanized Popular Alphabet. This language has several dialects. The primary dialect is known as the Chuanqiandian dialect. This is further broken down into the Njua and Daw sub dialects. Daw is the dialect that most Hmong speakers are currently familiar with. Since the language was standardized about 50 years ago, it is possible for people who speak different dialects to understand each other.

5 percent of Hmong speakers live in the United States, with at least half of them having been born and bred in the US. Most of them can speak Hmong as well as English fluently. Hmong speakers have mainly settled in Wisconsin, Minnesota and California. Mostly, parents speak Hmong to their children at home. There are two main varieties of Hmong spoken in the US. This includes white Hmong and green Hmong. These names are derived from the color of the traditional dresses worn by the women of that community. Hmong speakers in the US have started several charter schools that focus on providing better education for the children of Hmong speakers.

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