Mapping where English is not the main language

Inspired by work undertaken by the Washington Post, we have used 2011 Census data to explore the extent to which English is not the main language used by residents across Warwickshire. The analysis has identified some interesting geographical patterns, highlighting the diverse communities we have in parts of the county and drawing attention to certain neighbourhoods where a notable proportion of the population does not have English as its main language.

Of particular interest is the unique nature of the diversity that exists in each of our towns. We have produced maps illustrating the specific make-up of language use in each of our main centres of population, and the individual character of each profile is striking.

To set the scene, here are some headlines on the subject:

  • Across Warwickshire as a whole, nearly 23,000 residents aged 3+ do not have English as their main language (just more than 4% of the county).
  • The key languages spoken by residents whose main language is not English are Polish (5,600 residents), Panjabi (3,100), Gujarati (1,400), Portuguese (950) and Nepalese (900).
  • The percentage of residents that do not have English as their main language ranges from 0% up to 49% at Output Area level.
  • There are nearly 70 different languages used as a main language across the county.

The maps that follow identify Output Areas where at least 10% of residents state that English is not their main language. These Output Areas have then been colour coded to reflect the ‘primary non-English language’ used in that neighbourhood. This is defined where at least 25% of those residents that do not have English as their main language state a particular language as their main language (such as Polish or Panjabi). For more details on the methodology behind these maps see the notes at the foot of this article.

Let’s look at some of the detail in individual towns…


The analysis for Rugby makes it clear that the dominant non-English language here is Polish. One third of all Output Areas in the town have Polish as the primary non-English language, with these areas being concentrated in the north and west of Rugby (New Bilton / Benn / Brownsover). The only other language of note is Gujarati, which is the main non-English language spoken in four Output Areas. Click on the map to see a full screen version.


Warwick & Leamington Spa

There are three key points to draw attention to here. Firstly, we see a large number of neighbourhoods were a notable proportion of the population has Panjabi as its main language, particularly in south Leamington Spa (Sydenham and Brunswick). Secondly, there are several areas where Polish is a prominent language, particularly in the Brunswick/Old Town area. The third point, which is unique to Leamington Spa, is the fact that many of the areas where English is not the main language for at least 10% of the population do not have a ‘primary’ non-English language. These areas are denoted by the grey shading in the map and are concentrated around the town centre itself.

In these areas, the range of languages spoken is particularly diverse and no single non-English language emerges as being dominant. The 16 Output Areas coloured grey cover a population of around 4,300 residents; 13% of which do not have English as their main language. A total of 49 different languages are quoted as being the ‘main language’ used by residents in these areas, none of which are the main language for more than 1.5% of the population.



The key finding of the analysis for Nuneaton is that the neighbourhoods where at least 10% of the population does not have English as its main language are all tightly clustered around the western side of the town centre (Abbey and parts of Wem Brook). Here, the key language other than English is Gujarati.

Another interesting aspect of the data for Nuneaton is that we see a small number of neighbourhoods where Nepalese is the primary non-English language spoken. This is unique to this part of the county and is associated with the Gurkha barracks at nearby Bramcote.



The analysis for Bedworth is relatively straightforward; there are just a small number of Output Areas where more than 10% of the population does not have English as its main language. These are concentrated in the southeast of the town (Poplar) and all have Panjabi as the primary non-English language.



In Stratford-upon-Avon, we see a small number of neighbourhoods where Polish is a prominent language. These are largely clustered in the north of the town centre.


Particular neighbourhoods of interest

As mentioned earlier, nearly all of the areas where 10% or more of the population do not have English as their main language are located within our main towns. There are, however, a small number of exceptions.

One of Warwickshire’s Output Areas, on the border with Coventry, contains halls of residence for the University of Warwick. Not surprisingly, these halls contain a highly diverse range of nationalities and languages. Here, more than 34% of residents stated that English was not their main language, and more than 50 different languages were quoted as main languages.


The Sydenham estate in Leamington Spa is also particularly notable. This contains the part of the county with the highest percentage of residents stating that English is not their main language (49%). In other words, nearly half of the residents in this specific Output Area do not have English as their main language. Neighbouring Output Areas across the estate also have high levels (see map).


So what?

This is the first time this information has been available from the census. How can it be used? Well, it is important for service providers to have an understanding of their customer profile and to recognise the diversity that exists within our communities. Of particular importance is the point that the nature of this diversity varies from town to town across the county, and that the way services and agencies interact and engage with residents needs to be tailored to suit local circumstances. On a very basic level, the provision of information and services in different languages, involving the need for translation services, is clearly needed in certain localities.

What does this mean for you?

We would be interested to hear whether this analysis matches your perceptions and experiences of living and working in Warwickshire. Does it surprise you? Does it have new implications for the way you design policy and deliver services? Please let us know via the comments section at the foot of this article.

Footnote – the techie detail

The data behind this blog article was taken from Table QS204EW of the 2011 Census release. This dataset provides estimates that classify usual residents aged 3 and over by their main language. More information can be found here.

The maps are produced using Output Areas as the geographical unit. Each Output Area is roughly the same size with on average 300 persons and at least 40 households. They are the smallest geographic unit for which census outputs are published and are the building blocks that are aggregated to form all higher geographical areas for which statistics are produced. Following revisions by ONS there are now 1,819 output areas in Warwickshire.

As mentioned in the main body of the article, it is important not to interpret the figures as representing residents that do not speak any English. The statistics relate to people whose main language is not English. Nationally, around three quarters of those people that said English was not their main language went on to describe themselves as ‘proficient’ in English.

This blog article focuses on those parts of the county where we see the greatest concentrations of residents that do not have English as their main language, typically our main towns. The full analysis has covered all parts of the county and further information for other parts of the county is available upon request at

More national analysis on this topic can be found in this Office for National Statistics video.

6 Responses

  1. Great idea! Will this data be available on Compass?

    • Thanks for the suggestion Ross. It would certainly be useful to services to be able to access this easily so we will get this added to Compass as a layer within the statistical folder. If people are interested in exploring the data behind it, we could also produce a LIS (Local Information System) report. Would anyone find this useful?

  2. […] Mapping where English is not the main language […]

  3. It would be interesting to see actual counts for these areas. For example the Chinese enclave in Warwick appears to be an area with very few houses so the 10% = figure could be achieved with only a few people.

    It would also be interesting to see this data overlaid on Mosaic types but that might be difficult

    • Hi John. It’s true that some of the raw values can be quite small due to the very localised nature of the data. I did apply some minimum thresholds to try and make sure the maps didn’t display misleading messages. The areas that have been highlighted should all reflect genuine clusters of residents rather than a handful of individuals.

      For example, the area you refer to in Warwick has a total population (aged 3+) of 306; 52 of these do not have English as their main language, and 40 (13%) of these have (a form of) Chinese as their main language.

      If the GIS team is able to get the raw data loaded into the Local Information System then the raw data will be easily accessible.

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