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Video Summary: English language proficiency in England and Wales

Released: 30 August 2013

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Transcript for English language proficiency in England and Wales

This is a short video looking at English language proficiency in England and Wales.

Introduction (I)

Two questions on main language and proficiency in spoken English were included for the first time in the 2011 Census. The questions provided information on the main language of UK residents, and their proficiency in English if English was not their main language. For residents who lived in Wales, the English category also included those whose main language was Welsh.

Those whose main language was English checked this box.

For those with a main language other than English, the ‘other’ box was ticked, and then they wrote in their main language. Next, they rated their proficiency in spoken English.

The term ‘Proficient’, used hereafter in this podcast, refers to the people who indicated that they could speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’, on the form. The term ‘Non-proficient’ refers to those who indicated that they could speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.

Introduction (II)

On census day, 27 March 2011, there were 54 million usual residents aged 3 and over.
 
These 100 characters represent this population.

English was the main language for 92% of the usual residents aged 3 and over, which equates to 49.8 million. The remaining 8%, which equates to 4.2 million, had a different main language. Of these 4.2 million, 3.3million were ‘Proficient’ in English and 863,000 were ‘Non-proficient’ in English.

Main languages other than English with highest proportions who were Proficient in English

This word cloud shows the main languages other than English with the highest proportions who were proficient in English.

For the purposes of comparing the spoken English proficiency of those with a main language other than English, those reporting a sign language have been excluded from the analysis in this section. Also, for main languages comparisons, a minimum population of 300 was chosen to avoid ascribing meaning to findings based on very small population sizes.

The top 3 main languages other than English with the highest proportions of those who were ‘Proficient’ in English were Afrikaans, Welsh (for usual residents in England only) and Swedish, all with 99 per cent or over of their populations who were ‘Proficient’ in English.

Also in the top 10 were: Danish, Northern European language (Non-EU), Shona, Finnish, German, Dutch and Tagalog/Filipino.

These other main languages complete the top 20.


Largest populations for main languages other than English

The largest spoken main language other than English was Polish with 546,000 usual residents, 72 per cent of whom were proficient in English.

The second largest was Panjabi with 273,000 usual residents, 68 per cent of whom were ‘Proficient’ in English.

And third was Urdu with 269,000 usual residents, 76 per cent of whom were ‘Proficient’ in English.

These other languages complete the top 20 largest.

English language proficiency of usual residents aged 3 to 15

Now we will look at the English language proficiency for those usual residents aged 3 to 15.

In England and Wales as a whole, there were 8.5 million residents aged 3 to 15 in 2011.

Using this pie chart we can see that, Eight million of those aged 3 to 15 (which equals 94 per cent) had English as their main language, 0.4 million (which equals 5 per cent) had a language other than English and were ‘Proficient’ in English, and 79,000 (which equals 1 per cent) were ‘Non-proficient’.

Identifying the number of residents aged 3 to 15 that had a language other than English as their main language and were ‘Non-proficient’ in English, is important for planning and identifying education needs. This is particularly relevant at a local authority level.

Top 10 local authorities with highest proportions of ‘Non-proficient’ aged 3 to 15 year olds

Now we will look at the top 10 local authorities with the highest proportions of ‘Non-proficient’ 3 to 15 year olds.

All local authorities had less than 5 per cent of their population aged 3 to 15 that had a main language other than English and were ‘Non-proficient’ in English.

This graph indentifies the top 10 local authorities with the highest percentage of ‘Non-proficient’ 3 to 15 year olds in relation to their total population at that age range. Of these local authorities, seven of the top ten, were in London.

Hackney had the largest proportion, at 4.7 per cent.  

General health by English language proficiency (I)

We will now look at English language proficiency by self reported general health.

The 2011 census asked people to rate their general health as ‘very good, ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘bad’ and ‘very bad’. We have combined the individual responses to the general health question into the following groups: ‘Good’ health includes those who rated their general health as ‘very good’ or ‘good’; and ‘Not good’ includes those who had rated their general health as ‘fair’, ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’.


General health by English language proficiency (II)

Using this graph, we will look at English language proficiency by general health.

80 per cent of those with English as main language had ‘Good’ health. Those who were ‘Proficient’ in English had a higher proportion of ‘Good’ health at 88 per cent, while 65 per cent of the population who were ‘Non-proficient’ in English reported having ‘good’ health.


General health by English language proficiency by age

This graph shows general health by English language proficiency by age.

As age increased the proportion of people with ‘good’ health decreased for each of the proficiency in English categories. However, for all age groups, those ‘Non-proficient’ in English had lower proportions of people reporting ‘Good’ health than those whose main language was English or those who were ‘Proficient’ in English.

The amount by which those ‘Non-proficient’ in English had lower proportions of ‘Good’ health compared to the other proficiency categories was largest for the age groups of 50 years and over.   

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This video summary accompanies the English language proficiency in England and Wales: Main language and general health characteristics story.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.