English a Second Language in One in Nine UK Schools

The number of Eastern European students who don’t speak English as a first language has almost trebled since 2008. A Freedom of Information Request made by the Daily Mail to the Department for Education reveals that the number increased from just over 44,000 in January 2008 to more than 123,000 in January 2013.

Nine out of ten of the fastest-growing foreign languages are from Eastern Europe, the exception being Malayalam, a language from southern India.

Despite immigration restrictions still being in place when these measurements were taken, the number of Romanian speakers increased by 527 percent. The second highest increase was Latvian at 414 percent, followed by a 359 percent increase for Hungarian. Bulgarian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Czech, Russian and Polish also saw large increases.

One in Nine English schools now has majority of pupils who do not speak English as a first language, and the cost of educating non-native English speakers is estimated at up to £30,000 per year due to the extra assistance needed. This is compared to just £5,000 per year for native speakers.

Speaking to the Mail, Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real English said that although non-English speaking children “often bring an excellent work ethic to the classroom”, their lack of knowledge of the language means “a lot of teacher time has to be spent addressing language issues.”

The total number of pupils with English as a second language went up by a fifth to 1.1 million between 2008 and 2013.


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