Forty one per cent of state school pupils in London speak another language besides English – up from 33% ten years ago, according to new research published by the Institute of Education and CILT, the National Centre for Languages.
Six experts from the fields of demographic research, linguistics and social policy have compiled a unique new publication which literally maps the languages spoken in London schools on to their individual boroughs and wards, providing a fascinating perspective on the complex nature of London as a global city. Comparisons with earlier data show which languages have changed most and how communities across London are evolving.
Multilingualism is on the increase; with almost all the languages recorded having more speakers now than ten years’ ago. Forty two languages are now spoken by more than 1,000 pupils across London (up from 25) and 12 languages spoken by more than 10,000 pupils (up from 8). Only four languages have declined in numbers: Gujarati, Panjabi, Greek and Chinese – all established communities. The languages which have seen the biggest numerical increases are Somali, which has more than doubled in ten years, Tamil, Polish and Albanian.
The book comes with important background information about each language, and analysis to help policy-makers, planners, or those working in public services to make best use of the data. Professor Richard Wiggins, who led the research at the Institute of Education, said: ‘Our research shows that language data can provide us with a richer understanding of population diversity. We can use it together with other information to help make better sense of the city we live in, and to develop more effective social and educational policies.’
Teresa Tinsley, for CILT, the National Centre for Languages, said: “All the major languages of the world are represented in London, including most of those with more than 10 million speakers worldwide, yet most of us would be hard pressed to name more than a few dozen. We want to draw attention to this vast intellectual and cultural resource and stimulate a debate on how it can be developed and used for the benefit of all Londoners.’
‘Language Capital, mapping the languages of London’s schoolchildren’ by John Eversley, Dina Mehmedbogovic, Antony Sanderson, Teresa Tinsley, Michelle vonAhn and Richard D Wiggins can be purchased from CILT at http://www.cilt.org.uk/shop/product.aspx?id=110 .