London is an incredibly diverse and populous city with a total population of 9 million people. It should therefore come as no surprise that within such a large city an amazing plethora of different languages are spoken. Overall, the most widely spoken foreign languages in London are Polish, Bengali, and Gujurati, with these languages also being amongst the most widely spoken in the country.


But specifically, within the London boroughs, which foreign languages are the most widely spoken? According to the 2011 Census – the most recent and accurate data for languages in London and the UK – Polish, Turkish, Bengali, and Lithuanian to name a few, comprise the many different languages spoken within the London boroughs.



The Polish language is the most widely spoken foreign language in 7 different London boroughs. These include Barnet, Bromley, Ealing, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, and Wandsworth. Polish is a Slavic language that is part of the Indo-European language family, and is spoken by an estimated total of 147,816 speakers in London. It is also the second most widely spoken foreign language in the UK and is spoken by 40 million people around the world.



Turkish is the most widely spoken foreign language in 4 of the London Boroughs. The boroughs within which Turkish is most popular are Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, and Islington. In London as a whole, the Turkish language is spoken by 71,242 people, with this number accounting for 4.1 % of the non-English speaking population of the capital. Turkish is the most widely spoken Turkic language, spoken by approximately 79 million people globally.



Bengali, also known as Bangla, is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family. It is spoken most prominently in three London Boroughs. These boroughs are Camden, Newham, and Tower Hamlets. The Bengali language is spoken by 114,267 people in the capital, and, in fact, out of the three London Boroughs where the language is spoken, Tower Hamlets has the highest number of Bengali speakers in the entire country.



French, a Romance language from the Indo-European language family, is a popular foreign spoken in a total of three of the London Boroughs. These include City of London, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Kensington & Chelsea. There are 84,191 French speakers in total in London, and as of 2014, there were an estimated 300,000 French citizens living in the capital.



The Punjabi language, part of the Indo-Aryan language family, is spoken the most in three London Boroughs, namely Bexley, Hillingdon, and Hounslow. 68,525 people in total speak Punjabi in London and the language is spoken by 273,000 people in the UK, making it the second most widely spoken foreign language in the country.



Tamil, one of the Dravidian languages, is the most widely spoken foreign language in three London Boroughs, including Croydon, Kingston, and Sutton. 70,565 people speak Tamil in the capital, and globally the language is spoken by an estimated 75 million people.



Gujurati, one of the Indo-Aryan languages, is the second most popular foreign language spoken in Brent and Harrow. This language is spoken by 101,676 people in total in the capital, and by 213,094 people across Britain. While most of the Gujurati speakers in London and the rest of the UK speak Standard Gujurati, some also speak a dialect of the language known as Kutchi.



Lithuanian is spoken most notably in Barking and Havering. In total, the Lithuanian language is spoken by an estimated 35,341 people in London. Lithuanian is a Baltic language and is part of the Balto-Slavic group of languages within the Indo-European language family. It is the official language of Lithuania and is also one of the official languages of the European Union.



The Urdu language is the most widely spoken foreign language in the London boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest. In total, Urdu is spoken by 78,667 people in London and is also the fourth most widely spoken foreign language in the UK, spoken by an estimated 269,000 people. Urdu is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family and is spoken globally by 170 million speakers.


Foreign Languages Spoken Most Prominently in One London Borough

The following languages are listed as the second most spoken languages (the primary language spoken being English) in only one London borough. In Westminster, Arabic is listed as the second most language. Additionally, in Greenwich, Nepalese is the most widely spoken foreign language. In the London Borough of Lambeth, Portuguese is in fact the most widely spoken foreign language, and in Southwark, Spanish is also the most widely spoken foreign language.


In Conclusion

A wide array of foreign languages are spoken throughout the 32 different London boroughs, from across the spectrum of different language families from around the world. It is surely no coincidence that London is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world. If you should require translation of any of the most common foreign languages spoken in the London boroughs, such as Polish, Bengali, Gujarati, Lithuanian, Urdu, Punjabi, or any other language, you would benefit from the help of a Crystal Clear Translation interpreter or translator. At Crystal Clear Translation, you will find many efficient and reliable translators able to navigate the intricacies of many different languages – click here for a quote.