Over a quarter of Tower Hamlets residents without English as their main Language

Data from the recent Census reveals that 73% of residents in Tower Hamlets reported that English is their main spoken language

The Office of National Statistics published data that found after English, Bengali is the most commonly spoken language in Tower Hamlets (11%) than Italian (2.2%) and Spanish (1.7%).

20.7% of residents who said English is not their main language said they can speak English well or very well.

While a quarter of Tower Hamlets residents’ main spoken language is not English, there has been a slight increase in proficiency in spoken English. In 2011 8% of residents could not speak English well or at all compared to 6.2% in 2021.

Language barriers can pose challenges for children in areas such as literacy and language development in school. 

One of the ways in which some schools in Tower Hamlets are addressing this particular challenge is through the implementation of the National Literacy Trust Early Words Together Programme.

The programme gives parents the awareness, skills, and confidence to provide a language-rich home learning environment that supports their child’s language and early literacy development.

The National Literacy Trust has found that ‘the home learning environment can positively impact a child’s communication and language development and has been shown to have a greater impact on a child’s intellectual, social, and emotional development than the parent’s education, occupation, or wealth.’

The National Literacy Trust trains early years staff and volunteers to work with parents and children aged two to five. If you want to know more about this programme, further information can be found on the National Literacy Trust Website.

If you enjoyed reading this piece, you might like our article about Globe Primary School children meeting Emma Thompson.


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