London’s unique language landscape where 26% don’t speak English at home

crowd backs turnedMore than a quarter of Londoners don’t speak English at home.  The latest figures, for 2015, show that the proportion of people who choose another language as their first choice for speaking to family has risen to 26%.

This is a uniquely London phenomenon. Across the UK the rate is just 8.5%.  It is highest in the West Midland, where there is a significant immigrant population and in Wales, where Welsh speakers affect the numbers.

Not speaking English chart

The figures from the Office for National Statistics, based upon its Labour Force Survey,  reveal that in Newham 58% of people are using a language other than English at home. As previous data analysis by Urbs has shown, Newham is home to London’s largest Pakistani community and a significant Indian-born population.

In neighbouring Tower Hamlets, 41% are choosing another language at home above English.  The borough has the largest number of Bangladeshi-born people in the capital.

Not speaking English map

In north London, 45% in Harrow and 43% in Brent will speak other languages ahead of English among the family.  Both boroughs have large Indian-born populations.

Ealing is home to London’s largest Polish-born population, and a significant Indian-born community, which may explain why 38% of people use a language other than English at home.

The rates are only at or below the national average in 2 boroughs, Richmond and Havering.

According to the latest population estimates, 37% of Londoners, or 3 million people, were foreign-born while 23% or 2 million people are not British citizens.

This is leading to a multi-lingual city full of bi-lingual people.  Department of Education data, reported by Urbs, shows that nearly half the primary school children and 40% of the secondary pupils in London do not speak English as their first language. In some boroughs three quarters of the students speak English as a second language.

The concern for social inclusion is those who speak no English at all. Data from the last census in 2011 revealed that there are 45,000 people, mostly women, who say that they cannot speak the language.  The Prime Minister has announced a £20 million programme of English tuition but was criticised for his targeting of Muslim women, although they are the largest group.

Source data

See also

Our multi-lingual city – English second language for half of primary pupils

East London likely focal point for PM’s English tuition for Muslim women

London is more diverse than the UN or Fifa

Poles and Pakistanis help shape the multi-cultural make up of the city