Most common second language spoken in each London borough

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with more than 300 languages spoken throughout the capital, it is more linguistically diverse than any other city in the world.

London has a huge population of 8.9 million residents, with 46% of those being Black or minority ethnic.

It has a range of languages spoken on its streets each day from European languages like Portuguese to South Asian tongues like Urdu.

London resident Mohmed Hamza, 25, who speaks English and Arabic, said: “I think diversity in London is a great thing, it’s always important to have lots of different people, different nationalities.

“I think that can only be a good thing. Learn more about other people and their cultures.

“I think it’s a great thing that London’s such a diverse city.” 

Commonly when migrating, communities will move together to create a large population there.

Like the large community of Polish people in Ealing, which is the largest in the whole country, with 6.4% of Ealing residents native to Poland. 

As a result, one of the most spoken languages in west London is Polish, alongside Punjabi and Gujarati.

While on the opposite side of London, in east the common second languages spoken are Lithuanian and Urdu.

North London’s top second languages are Turkish and also Polish.

While south London, which has 12 boroughs of the 32, has many Polish and Tamil speakers.

When asked about if there were many Arabic speakers around him when growing up, Hamza said: “Yes and no, the area I grew up in was very ethnically diverse but there weren’t many Arabic speakers.”

London’s linguistic diversity has made it a place where many foreign parents can choose to send their kids to language schools, where students can learn to read and write in their native tongue.

Hamza said: “I went to an Arabic school pretty much every Saturday I believe, so living in the UK and going to an Arabic school helped me learn it and to keep me using it.” 

Central London is where you will hear most languages on the streets, with there being many tourist attractions and it being the heart of the city.

In places like the City of London, French is the most spoken language after English. 

Speaking another language has many advantages, and 27% of children under the age of six are learning a language other than English.

Hamza, who learnt Arabic as a child, said: “There are so many advantages! So, for one, it’s great to have on your CV, second as well when you’re out and about on the street you might catch glimpses of what people are saying, even if it’s not specifically about you but is always something cool and I know the context of what’s happening.

“With anything interchangeable, learning a second language from such a young age is good in terms of your cognitive development, it always helps with other skills too.”

However, throughout the whole capital and rest of the country, English remains the language spoken by the general population. 

Data from here, here and here.

Featured image by Pierre Blaché from Pixabay

Related Articles