How Great Britain benefits from its diverse culture and languages


Saturdays for success: How supplementary education can support pupils from all backgrounds to flourish: Published in September 2015 this IPPR report makes recommendations for how more pupils, schools and communities can gain from the rich, extracurricular learning environments that supplementary schools offer.

Making supplementary schools work for your school: information and advice from IPPR.

England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 is the result of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project by the University of York in collaboration with the Humanities Research Institute (University of Sheffield) and The National Archives.

Poverty is the biggest problem in my diverse school, not language barriers: Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Community primary school, where pupils speak more than 58 languages, explains why low expectations are his biggest challenge.

What are the recent trends in mobility of students into and out of the UK? September is when the UK will be welcoming new and returning students from all over the world, while sending out a few of its own. The British Council’s Michael Peak runs us through the trends in recent years, as UCAS releases figures on undergraduate enrolment in UK universities today.

Drop the negative spin on kids who start school bilingual – they are a rich resource for the future: “There are now more than 1.1 million children in our schools whose first language “is known or believed to be other than English” according to the latest government figures. These children represent a considerable resource. But we are not making the most of it and are even cutting specialist language support for these pupils.”

More than 300 languages are spoken in London’s schools, offering a wealth of knowledge, new perspectives and cultural riches to all of London’s children: Professor Catherine Wallace suggests that this cumulative bounty has contributed to the success of London’s schools.

Immigration targets “hide the true potential benefit that people coming to Britain can actually have”, says Professor Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University: “One of Britain’s greatest strengths has been in the way it has assimilated so many different communities, and we are a very plural and open society,” Professor Leszek Borysiewicz said he opposed “crude” numerical limits on migrants, and praised Britain’s plural society as one of its greatest strengths.

If there aren’t enough linguists, we’ll need immigrants: As the number of students studying languages falls, the value of immigration to the export sector must be recognised. The UK should take advantage of the skills that immigration brings with it and the support it can provide to improve UK export figures.

‘Our School’ by Heymann Primary School, Nottinghamshire.

“The British Isles have always been multilingual, despite a widespread belief to the contrary.” David Crystal on Language and time: “This island at present…contains five nations, the English, Britons, Scots, Picts, and Latins, each in its own peculiar dialect cultivating the sublime study of Divine truth.” Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, written around 730.

Visits to the UK by overseas residents continue to rise and are up 10% in the latest three months (January to March), with holiday visits up 19% in the same period.

The school with 42 languages in the playground: Byron Court in Brent is one of the most diverse schools in the UK. Children from Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia, India, Nepal, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, to name but a few, mingle happily and play together.

UK Trade for March 2014: UK Trade shows the extent of import and export activity and is a key contributor to the overall economic growth in the UK.

“The UK’s multilingualism is an asset and a resource… The UK needs a multilingual population in order to succeed in a globalised world, for global citizenship, for diplomacy, security and international relations, and for developing a taskforce to operate efficiently in trade and investment.” (from Multilingual Britain: Cumberland Lodge / British Academy)

If you don’t think multiculturalism is working, look at your street corner: Living in a mixed area makes us more tolerant, not less, studies show. That fact must be part of the immigration debate.

Statistics published recently by the Registrar General for Scotland on the Scotland’s Census website present further details from the 2011 Census in Scotland on Language and Identity, from national to local level.

School, pupils and their characteristics report (using January 2013 school census): First Language: “In state-funded primary schools 18.1% of pupils of compulsory school age or above had a first language that was known, or believed, to be other than English, an increase from 17.5% in 2012. …In state-funded secondary schools 13.6% of pupils of compulsory school age or above had a first language that was known, or believed, to be other than English, an increase from 12.9% in 2012.”

Pupils with English as a second language ‘outperform native speakers’: Department for Education figures show that pupils who have English as a second language are more likely to gain the “English Baccalaureate” than native speakers.

Official figures reveal that English is no longer the first language for the majority pupils at one in nine schools: Of the ten schools with the highest proportion of children who do not speak English as their first language, all but two are outside London. All but one are rated as either good or outstanding by Ofsted, the schools watchdog.

New figures show that European migration is a two-way street: 2.3m Brits live in EU states and 2.34m EU citizens live in the UK.

The British diaspora is a large, diverse and talented group. In the follow-up to their Brits Abroad report of 2006, IPPR have researched the extent of British emigrants’ integration into their countries of residence and their continuing attachment to the UK. In a globalised world, with increasing movement of people, huge numbers live not within the boundaries of the state of which they are citizens, but in other countries. More governments are recognising that these citizens represent a great asset abroad. But for these assets to be supported and mobilised effectively, governments need to be able to engage with their overseas populations in a coherent and strategic way.

Visits to the UK by overseas residents are up 6% year to date. Holiday visits continue to grow and are up 8% over the past twelve months compared with a year earlier. Business visits and visits to friends or relatives have also shown some growth over the same period.

Gift of bilingualism is too often ‘squandered’: English-speaking countries are “squandering” the benefits of having bilingual children in their schools and risk turning them into monoglots, according to Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, of the University of Melbourne.

Report reveals tourism is crucial to economy: The tourism industry’s potential to play a central role in creating new jobs across Britain revealed in a recent Deloitte report.

Got three languages and a sense of adventure? Then you’re a Londoner: In our polyglot capital, increasing numbers of families now converse in several tongues, giving rise to a new generation of trilingual toddlers.

Discover the UK’s changing linguistic identity, a snapshot of GB’s multilingual talent, and ways that our bilingual youngsters’ home languages can be celebrated in the September issue of our magazine, Languages Today, only available to members of ALL! Join now for your copy.

Birmingham pupils speak 108 languages: The city has one of the youngest populations in Europe and students come from 87 different ethnic groups, with Asian pupils now the single biggest ethnic group in schools, accounting for more than 40%.

Manchester is the UK’s language capital, according to researchers at The University of Manchester: the team based at the University’s Multilingual Manchester project say there could be up to 200 languages spoken by long-term residents in the Greater Manchester area.

London: multilingual capital of the world? There are very few cities in the world where you can order breakfast in Farsi, book a taxi in Urdu, ask for afternoon coffee in Arabic and spend the evening chatting with your friends in Cantonese. But all of this – and more – can be done in London.

London is becoming more multilingual: 41% of state school pupils in London speak another language besides English – up from 33% ten years ago, according to recent research.

Sheffield is one of England’s most culturally diverse cities: currently more than 120 languages are spoken in Sheffield. Although some of them are used by only a handful of people, the city is home to a large number of international communities that have brought with them a rich tradition of language and culture.

27.5% of Leicester residents speak a language other than English as their main language: among the most popular are Gujarati, Punjabi, Polish, Urdu and Somali.

BBC Voices: Multilingual Nation: No one knows how many languages are spoken in the British Isles, but the BBC presents some of the most widely spoken.

2011 census shows a rise the number of young Gaelic speakers: The figures, published by the National Records of Scotland, also showed that the drop in the overall number of Gaelic speakers has also slowed while 1.5 million people declared themselves Scots speakers.

July’s overseas visitor spend hits record level of £2.52 billion: International Passenger Survey figures reveal a 23% boost in tourist spending in July 2013 compared to July 2012. “Tourism in Britain has never been stronger and the industry is making a big contribution to the economic recovery.”, said Minister for Tourism, Hugh Robertson.

International education: why the sector is important to the UK economy, and how the government plans to take advantage of new opportunities around the globe.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal UK tourism sector is seeing record levels of spend and visitor numbers since 2008: A year after Britain hosted the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, inbound tourism continues to prove it is one of the UK’s key export growth markets.

London 2012 – Delivering the Economic Legacy: how Britain is harnessing the Olympic momentum in terms of international investment, overseas trade and additional sales.

The importance of import and export activity to the overall economic growth of the UK (June 2013).

“Education is Great” campaign to promote UK education to students in emerging economies: “Overseas students make a huge contribution to Britain: they boost our economy, and enhance our cultural life… Thanks to our world-class universities, our network of UK alumni are now in positions of influence around the world, opening doors that would not otherwise be possible.” Business Secretary Vince Cable

The importance of tourism to the UK: the challenges British tourism faces in an increasingly globalised climate and how to build on the momentum gained through Britain’s hosting of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tourism spend in the last 12 months has reached a record-high: in the year to the end of March 2013, tourism spend reached £19.01 billion; a 5% increase year-on-year and the first time the £19 billion mark has been broken.

A new report on Multilingual Britain (Cumberland Lodge / British Academy) concludes that:

• The UK’s multilingualism is an asset and a resource, but is not fully valued
• More data is needed to understand fully the nature and extent of multilingualism in the UK
• Businesses and public service providers would benefit if community languages were harnessed in a systematic and constructive way
• Multilingualism has direct implications for social cohesion
• Accreditation plays a central role in the value attributed to languages by society
• Education policy is central to the future direction of multilingualism in the UK
• New media forms and internationalisation offer opportunities for language learning.

Culture Secretary- ‘Tourism is key to growth’: “Speaking at the World Travel Market, Mrs Miller will urge tourism industry leaders to do all they can to keep up the momentum of 2012. The Diamond Jubilee and the London Games have resulted in real economic success, with tourist spending in August 2012 up nine per cent on the same period last year.”

Keynote tourism speech: “We’re working hard across Government to reduce any perceived barriers to tourism. To make clear that not only is Britain a great place to experience but also a great place to visit. To create the right conditions for both inward and outward tourism to thrive.” Maria Miller, Culture Secretary

2011 Census- Quick Statistics for England and Wales: 2011 was the first time the language question was asked in the census.

  • Ninety two per cent (49.8 million) of usual residents aged three years and over spoke English (English or Welsh in Wales) as their main language.
  • Of the 8% (4.2 million) of usual residents aged three years and over with a main language other than English, 79% (3.3 million) could speak English very well or well.
  • In 2011, less than 0.5% (138,000) of all usual residents aged three years and over could not speak English.
  • The second most reported main language was Polish (one per cent, 546,000), followed by Panjabi (half of one per cent, 273,000) and Urdu (0.5%, 269,000).
  • Further information available from the ONS: Language in England and Wales, 2011.

Census 2011: the language data visualised: A map showing what languages are spoken in differend areas of Great Britain.

Polish integration in England (video): Polish is the second most common main language in England and Wales with more than half a million speakers, according to new figures from the 2011 Census.

Census 2011: Positive outlook: “I believe that a plan is needed for developing and exploiting the linguistic skills we have available. Having speakers of all these languages means we have connections across the globe with other speakers of these languages. We are globally connected, which is an incredible benefit for international trade, particularly at this time when the balance of global economic power is changing and European economies are in such crisis.” Professor Dick Wiggins of the Institute of Education, University of London.

The UKs most diverse street: Residents of the street boasting the largest number of nationalities in the UK last night declared: “We’re just one big, happy family.” Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester was revealed to be one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse communities in the most recent census.

More ethnically diverse populations for UK local areas: In 40 years’ time the UK will be a more diverse but more integrated society, according to research at the University of Leeds, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (predictions of society for 2051).

Overseas Travel and Tourism, November 2012: The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents up 9% compared to last year.

University overseas students: increase in applications from overseas students.

People learning Polish in England: more and more people are taking up the language in a bid to communicate with and understand their new partners – triggering a rise in the number of evening classes being laid on.

The 2012 Olympics and the number of overseas visitors it brought to Britain: “In July, August and September 2012, the period of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 680,000 overseas residents completed visits to the UK either for the purpose of watching, participating in or working at the London 2012 Games, or attended a ticketed London 2012 event while visiting the UK primarily for a different purpose.” For further information please click here.

Post-Olympic tourism revival aimed at Chinese: An £8 million marketing campaign aiming to triple the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK, further investment in domestic tourism, plus increased sport and cultural tourism are at the heart of a renewed drive to create a lasting tourism legacy from the success of London 2012.

Mandarin speakers in British stores: Big stores offer payment by Chinese bank card and Mandarin-speaking staff to serve growing number of visitors.

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