Polish is England's second language

Polish is the second-most spoken language in England and Wales, new figures from the 2011 census have revealed, followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

Over 92 per cent of residents spoke English as their main language, and the majority of the rest spoke it well, although 138,000 residents - less than half of one per cent - did not speak English at all, the Office for National Statistics said.

One per cent of the population, or 546,000 people, listed Polish as their main language, a reflection of the wave of eastern European migrants who moved to Britain after the enlargement of the European Union in 2004.

The news comes the day after former prime minister Tony Blair was given an award by Polish business leaders for opening up the British labour market to Poland during his decade in office from 1997 to 2007.

Polish speakers were concentrated in London, which unsurprisingly had the highest proportion of non-native English speakers. Twenty-two per cent, or 1.7 million people, listed a main language other than English in the capital.

The figures are likely to fuel a row over immigration from Bulgaria and Romania, as the British government prepares for the lifting of controls on new EU arrivals at the end of the year.

Nationwide, Punjabi was the third most-spoken language, spoken by 273,000 people or half of one per cent, concentrated in the West Midlands, where it is the second most popular language. Urdu was in fourth place, spoken by 269,000 people, followed by Bengali (221,000), Gujarati (213,000), Arabic (159,000), French (147,000), Chinese (141,000), and Portuguese (133,000).


This story Polish is England's second language first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.