There are three hundred languages other than English spoken in the UK. Of course, these include territorial minority languages - Scottish, Irish, Gaelic, Mansk and Cornish, but they also include languages from other parts of the world. How do we describe languages other than English which are not territorial minority languages?

For instance, it would be faintly absurd to describe Chinese as a "minority" or "alternative" language. Although Chinese speakers are a minority in Britain, Chinese speakers greatly outnumber English speakers worldwide (726 million Chinese speakers compared to 427 million English speakers). And other languages are not far behind. Languages with a speech community base are now described as 'community languages' - a term coined more than 20 years ago.

Is Britain a multilingual society in the way, for example, Switzerland or Singapore are whereby there are multiple officially recognised languages? Or is Britain better described as linguistically diverse?

In an exciting development for the preservation of one of the countries oldest and scarcest languages, the EU has recognised Cornish as a regional language in a recent charter. Cornish will become regarded as a protected language by the EU, joining Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots and Ulster Scots.

The move was welcomed by the Local Government Minister, Nick Raynsford.

Listed below are some of the 150 languages offered by the Metropolitan Police's 999 emergency service.

Language

Country of Origin

How many In London

Key Areas

Afrikaans

South Africa

5,310

Enfield

Akan

Ghana

27,500

Haringey

Albanian

Albania

4,200

Various

Amharic

Ethiopia

1,200

Ken & Chel

Arabic

Morocco to Persian Gulf

500,000

Westminister

Armenian

Armenia

3,000

Islington

Azerbaijani

Azerbaijan

2,000

Various

Basque

Spain, France

10

Various

Belarussian

Belarus

150

Haringey

Bengali

Banladesh, West Bengal

136,300

Tower Hamlets

Berber

Morocco, Algeria

80

Central London

Bravanese

Somalia

Unknown

West London

Bulgarian

Bulgaria

2,000

Various

Burmese

Burma

310

Various

Cantonese

China

47,900

Various

Catalan

Spain

100

Notting Hill

Cebuano

Phillipines

40

Barnet

Creole(English)

Caribbean

50,700

Various

Creole(French)

Caribbean

8,400

Various

Croat

Croatia

3,400

Westminister

Czech

Czech Republic

1,850

Hammersmith

Danish

Denmark

50,000

Putney,Fulham

Dari

Afghanistan

310

Various

Dutch

Netherlands

30,000

Central London

English

England

7.1m

Everywhere

Esperanto

Universal

200

Various

Farsi

Iran

30,000

Maryleborne

Fijian

Fiji

16,200

Lambeth

Finnish

Finland

5,000

Lambeth

French

France

600,000

S.Ken

Fulla

Nigeria

80

Various

Ga

Ghana

3700

Lambeth

Gaelic

Scotland, Ireland

2,400

Kilburn

Georgian

Georgia

1162

Various

German

Germany

100,00

Various

Gaurani

S.America

Unknown

Chealsea

Greek

Greece

350,000

Enfield

Gujurati

Gujurat,India

149,600

East End

Hakka

China

50

Various

Hausa

Nigeria

2,008

Ealing

Hebrew

Israel

20,000

Barnet

Hindi

India

136,500

West End

Hungarian

Hungary

3,190

Harrow

Icelandic

Iceland

1,000

Various

Igbo

Nigeria

9,000

Lewisham

Italian

Italy

50,000

Chelsea

Japanese

Japan

22,860

Various

Kashmiri

Kashmir, India

50

Various

Kazakh

Kazakhstan

10

Various

Khmer

Cambodia

60

Various

Korean

Korea

20,000

Kingston

Krio

Sierra Leone

2,660

Lambeth

Kurdish

Iran, Iraq

6,800

Haringey

Kurmanji

Iran

7,000

Haringey

Lao

Laos

120

Camden

Latvian

Latvia

70

Various

Lingala

Congo

4,500

Haringey

Luo

Uganda, Tanzia

70

Greenwich

Lusoga

Uganda

70

Greenwich

Macedonian

Macadonia

260

Ealing

Malay

Malaysia

2,860

Barnet

Malayam

India

2,600

Ealing

Maltese

Malta

25,000

Lambeth

Mandarin

China

15,000

Soho

Marathi

India

400

Barnet

Moldovan

Moldova

25,000

Various

Mongolian

Mongolia

370

Ken & Chel

Nepali

Nepal

1,030

Various

Norwegian

Norway

7,000

Wimbledon

Nyakuse

Tanzania

16

Haringey

Polish

Poland

7,200

Ealing

Portugese

Portugal

29,400

Ken & Chel

Punjabi

India

155,700

Various

Pushtu

India

1,700

Various

Romanian

Romania

2,000

Ealing

Russian

Russia

200,000

Ken & Chel

Samoan

Polynesia

200

Acton

Serbian

Serbia

20,000

Ealing

Shona

Zimbabwe

80

Haringey

Sinhalese

Sri Lanka

230

Ealing

Slovak

Slovakia

470

Bexley

Slovenian

Slovenia

1,500

Various

Somali

Somalia

22,340

Various

Spanish

Spain

500,000

Various

Swahili

Kenya, Tanzannia

4,900

Redbridge

Swedish

Sweden

50,000

Barnes

Sylheti

Bangladesh

40,500

Tower Hamlets

Tagalog

Philippines

9,300

Various

Taiwanese

Taiwan

7,000

Westminister

Tamil

Sri Lanka

19,200

Brent

Telegu

South India

100

Various

Thai

Thailand

2870

Various

Tibetan

Tibet

50

Islington

Tigre

Ethiopia

690

Southwark

Tigrinian

Erittrea & Ethiopia

2,300

Ken & Chel, Islington

Turkish

Turkey

73,900

Various

Turkmanish

Uzbekistan

10

Hammersmith

Ukranian

Ukraine

10,000

Acton

Uzbek

Uzbekistan, Tajistan

80

Hammersmith & Fulham

Vietnamese

Vietnam

16,800

Hackney

Welsh

Wales

7,000

Various

Xhosa

South Africa

130

Various

Yiddish

Eastern Europe

10,000

Stamford Hill

Yoruba

Nigeria & Benin

47,600

Southwark

Zulu

South Africa

390

Haringey

Article taken from The Evening Standard- (Friday 25 June 2004)
Sources: 2001 study of 850,000 school children carried out by Professor Philip Baker . Multilingual Capital,Corporation of London, 2001

Here is a link to Portsmouth Ethnic Minority Achievement Service site - a very nice website which you might find interesting.

Portsmouth LEA features several different languages on its home page - including Chinese. The site contains a great deal of interesting information for ESL.

The Ethnic Minority Achievement Service works in partnership with schools to ensure that there are whole school strategies in place for effective support for bilingual learners and minority ethnic pupils at risk of underachievement parents' active involvement in the life and development of the school development of the cultural, religious and personal identities of all learners race equality provision and policy

Why not read these too?