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Punjabi most commonly spoken native language among UK pupils

PTI 22 Jun 2012, 16:26:25 IST
London, Jun 22: One million students in Britain have English as their second language while Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language among those whose first language is not English, according to latest official figures.

More than one million children speak English as a second language as a record one in six pupils at primary schools and one in eight at secondary don't speak the language at home.

The number of non-native speakers topped one million for the first time, rising from 957,490 last year, the Mail Online reported citing the figures released as part of an official census of schools conducted in January.

Besides Punjabi, other widely-spoken native languages are Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu, Somali, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish and Tamil.

A separate analysis released earlier this year showed how children who speak English as their first language are now a minority in more than 1,600 English schools.

The number of schools where fewer than half of children are native speakers has virtually doubled in 15 years. Pupils with English as their main language now form a minority in one in 13 schools - up from one in 25 in 1997.

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results published earlier this year showed how pupils whose first language is not English are closing the attainment gap with English-speaking youngsters, the Mail reported.

“English language skills are vitally important to ensure all individuals and communities can fully integrate into society. We provide schools with funding and teaching materials to help them support children with English as an additional language right through to secondary education,” a Department for Education spokesman said while commenting on the figures.