Foreign-born Redbridge residents adopting English as census reveals more than 100 languages spoken in borough

Diversity comes in many languages in Redbridge.

Diversity comes in many languages in Redbridge. - Credit: Archant

More than 100 different languages from all corners of the world are spoken in Redbridge.

The latest figures from the 2011 census show that although three quarters of the borough speak English as a main language, the remaining 25 per cent pack in a huge array of dialects.

South Asian languages make up the second largest group of 42,325 speakers, with Urdu, Panjabi, Tamil, Bengali and Gujarati dominating.

African languages, including Somali, Swahili and Afrikaans, also have a share of 42,325 residents.

The most-widely spoken European language is Lithuanian, with 2,668 speakers, followed by Polish and Romanian.

At the other end of the scale, tiny numbers of people use rare and uncommon languages.

Only five people speak Oceanic or Australian languages, while four speak UK gypsy and traveller languages, three use Yiddish and there is one solitary speaker of non-English based Caribbean Creole.

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Tiny countries also make their voices heard in the borough.

Finland might be the least-densely populated country in the EU, but 29 people in Redbridge speak its language.

Non-vocal communication was also included in the survey, revealing that 148 people use sign language.

The only languages on the census list not represented in the borough were Scottish Gaelic, Cornish or Manx – the tongue of the Isle of Man.

The statistics show that thousands of Redbridge residents born outside the UK use English as a main language.

Only a quarter of residents use another language, even though 37 per cent were born elsewhere.

Ilford-based refugee and migrant charity RAMFEL runs low-cost English courses.

Chief executive Rita Chadha said: “I don’t think we meet anybody who doesn’t want to learn English.

“The issue is where they can find courses that aren’t way too expensive.”

RAMFEL has a waiting list for its courses but English is also taught in colleges and community centres around Redbridge.

Rita said more and more people arriving in the borough are expressing an interest in the language.

She added: “When I first started 10 years ago, we had to really push people into learning English but now they are coming to us.”

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