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Posted on10 January 2023

Top languages in England and Wales

Do you know which are the most popular languages currently used in the UK? As a translation agency, we are sometimes asked this question. Thanks to the recent release of 2021 Census data regarding language use in England and Wales, we can now answer it with a bit more certainty.

Of course, the language that is most used in the UK is English. According to the 2021 Census that took place in England and Wales, English (English or Welsh in Wales) was the main language for 91.1% of residents.

When it comes to the most commonly spoken foreign language, the top spot hasn’t changed since the previous census in 2011. Being the first language for 1.1% of the population, Polish remains the most popular foreign language in England and Wales. If you are in need of a Polish interpreter, just give us a call.

Can you guess which is the second most-spoken foreign language in England? This is probably the most interesting shift that has happened in the last 10 years. In 2021, Romanian held the second spot, up 17 places from the previous census in 2011. Sure enough, being a translation agency, we have noticed an increase in demand for Romanian translation.

Punjabi and Urdu are still in the top 5 most popular languages, while Bengali and Gujarati dropped a few places. On the other hand, Portuguese has seen an increase and is now sitting at number 5.

Top 10 languages spoken in England and Wales

According to the 2021 Census, these are the 10 most popular foreign languages in England and Wales:

  1. Polish
  2. Romanian
  3. Punjabi
  4. Urdu
  5. Portuguese
  6. Spanish
  7. Arabic
  8. Bengali
  9. Gujarati
  10. Italian

In the image below, you can see the language shifts that have occurred over the 10-year period:

Growing and supporting your audience with translation services

In multicultural places like the UK, being aware of other cultures and their linguistic background can be useful for both service providers and businesses. Even if most immigrants to the UK can communicate in English, being able to provide materials and support in their native tongue can add a layer of assurance, understanding, and confidence, aiding communication and higher engagement.

Let’s say you want to translate your material or website to appeal to those in the UK whose first language is not English. Perhaps you have a limited budget or want to do it gradually. Which languages will you prioritise? It makes sense to start with the ones that are used most and have the largest number of speakers. Of course, you shouldn’t blindly follow a general list, and it’s valid to note that census data may not always give the most accurate picture. However, it can be a handy guide if you’re unsure where to start. In the end, it’s essential to consider your target audience and goals.

Providing materials in minority languages is especially important in health care. When it comes to health and medical procedures, people have to be well-informed. As a member of the Patient Information Forum, we know how critical it is to provide clear and accessible health information. Atlas Translations strives to provide high-quality Medical Translations and support people in need of medical attention by removing the linguistic barrier.

Translation and Interpreting services in the most common languages in England

Want to communicate with your non-native audience in England? At Atlas Translations, we can help to get your message across in all the languages spoken in the UK. If you’d like to chat or get a quote, just give us a call at 01727 812725, email, or contact us through our website.

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