Languages Spoken in the UK: A Complete List of Foreign & Native Speakers

The world is a rapidly growing place. More people are moving to it, more people are learning foreign languages, and more native English speakers are becoming fluent in another language. This means that English is becoming a less important global language, what countries speak English? In fact, it’s now the third most spoken language in the world behind Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Languages Spoken in the UK

Do people in the UK speak English? Yes, of course! But English is far from the only language people in the United Kingdom speak. In fact, English isn’t the only indigenous language spoken in the UK – there are quite a few more. And we can add to those a large number of foreign languages spoken by the diverse population in the UK.

So which languages are the most popular?

Well, it’s not so much which languages are the most spoken in the UK. It’s more about identifying which groups have an increasing proportion of people who speak other languages at home.

The most common languages in England and the UK

According to Eurostat statistics, 54% of the population of England and Wales speaks English as their mother tongue. This statistic doesn’t necessarily represent native speakers but rather people who have some or all of their education in English.

According to an Ofcom poll, 29% of the UK’s population don’t speak English as their first language and there are also significant numbers speaking other languages such as French (1%), Arabic (0.59%) or Punjabi/Punjabi Urdu 1%.

Of course, every second native speaker that speaks another language in the Uk is European, with 6.2% of the population coming from one or more former USSR countries (who are amongst some of Europe’s most English speakers). The UK also has lots of Scots-speakers according to surveys.


is the only official language of the United Kingdom. The most widely spoken immigrant languages in England and Wales is Punjabi/Punjangi Urdu (1 million native speakers), Polish (900,000) and Bengali(466,214).

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But it is the de-facto language of the UK because it’s the main language of around 92% of the population. There are lots of different indigenous languages spoken in the UK, but they are often excluded from official statistics because of their small numbers. Even if you include these immigrant languages, English is still by far the most used language.

Percentage shares for different indigenous first languages across Britain according to Census 2001 (the latest available census data). The classification scheme covers the main countries of birth beside each ethnic group.


Helô, Welsh! Welsh is the only language listed as an official language in any part of the UK – in Wales, the UK Government says it “also includes future plans for a devolved Welsh Assembly”. And yet, official data shows that only 0.05% of the population aged three and over speak Welsh as their first language. In Wales, just 10 people out of every 100 have an active interest in learning Welsh – much less than one person per village! The fact is that 65-70% of those surveyed believe they can talk about everyday life in each generation.


Scots is the second most spoken language in the UK with around 1.5 million speakers in Scotland (at home and in the UK) (according to the 2011 Census).
Other indigenous languages like Cornish, Irish, Manx Gaelic are spoken by very few people. Like Welsh it is not generally recognized as an official language of any part of NHSW; however, under provisions for minority protected status Helô, Welsh! could be established.

Foreign languages in the UK

The number of people who speak foreign languages in the UK is growing year by year. The UK government currently lists 16 foreign languages as official minority languages of the United Kingdom for minority religions, but only 8 are widely spoken.
British Council testifies that more than 3 million persons born outside EU members’ countries speak at least one other European language well or sufficiently. Usually, these people immigrate to another country or move away from home after primary school education finishes. See also, european countries that speak english.

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Dzień Dobry, Polish! Welcome to the number one spot for foreign languages in the UK. 1.17 million people are saying : dzień dobry, Polska!. It is spoken by 75% of the worker aged 2–74 years living in England and Wales according to the 2011 census. They can be found all around Great Britain – from Cornwall’s capital city Luton through East London up north Midlands to Brighton on points across the Sussex coast where the Polish language is likely being taught as an optional subject at secondary school level.

Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, and Gujarati

These four languages together are the main languages of the large Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations in the UK. Chinese (Mandarin) and Cantonese are the two main languages of 600,000 people born in China. Mandarin is spoken by 124,200 or 4% of all workers aged 16–74 in England & Wales while 7334 041 people speak Cantonese which means it is one of the biggest minority foreign languages.


Marhaba to our Arabic-speaking friends! Arabic is the fifth most spoken foreign language in the UK after Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. The largest group of Arabic speakers is estimated to be British Muslims (some 10–11 million). Around 3 million Arabic speakers are found all over the UK including Birmingham the most populated city in England by Central Asian immigrants.

Other languages in the UK

There are a lot of other foreign languages spoken in the UK. French is widely spoken in the south-east of England, many areas of London and in French parts’ cities Paris. German is the language spoken by German citizens who live in Uk or belong to it (over 1,2 million people). Ukrainian, Russian and Lithuanian are mostly used among Ukrainians (1.3 million).

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Second languages

Native English speakers are notoriously terrible at learning foreign languages! In fact, around 62% of the UK population are monolingual and can’t speak any second language. That’s pretty embarrassing compared to our European neighbors!

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What are the most common languages spoken in England?

English is the most common language spoken in England. It is also the official language of Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Which languages are not commonly spoken in England?

The most commonly spoken languages in England are English, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic.

The language that is not commonly spoken in England is Cornish which has a small number of speakers.

How many people speak English as a first language in England?

According to the United Nations, English is spoken as a first language by some 45% of the population in England.

There are many languages that are spoken in England like:

• German – 2.8%

• Polish – 1.7%

• Bengali – 1.4%

• Chinese – 1%

• Spanish – 0.7%

• Urdu – 1.3%

• Gujarati – 0.

What is the difference between foreign and native speakers of English?

A native speaker of English that speaking English is someone who was born in the United States or Canada and has lived there their entire life. Foreign speakers are people who were not born in the United States or Canada but learned English while living abroad.