Updated: Friday, 22nd May 2020 @ 2:15pm

Language barrier: Oldham revealed as among 'top' 20 towns in the UK for non-English speaking residents

Language barrier: Oldham revealed as among 'top' 20 towns in the UK for non-English speaking residents

By Matt Scrafton

Oldham is among the country’s ‘top 20’ local authorities for the number of their residents who can’t speak English, according to latest statistics.

While 89.5% stated English as their main language, 0.7% of those in Oldham who said English was not their main language cannot speak English at all.

While this might seem like a small figure to most, it compares to just 0.1% in Stockport and Wigan, and 0.2% in Bury and Trafford. Even Manchester, with a population much greater than Oldham and a large international student population, fairs better with 0.6%.

Dr John Morley, Director of Language Programmes at University of Manchester, said he would be concerned if the figures showed a high level of non-English speakers among children.

He said: “What is important is whether the young people in Oldham have an adequate level of English to find jobs and to become productive members of society.

“One response would be to ensure that local Schools have properly funded EAL (English as an additional language) provision.

The news comes after last year it was revealed nearly 34% of primary school children in Oldham don’t have English as their mother tongue – almost 10,000 pupils in total.

Some of the borough’s schools have no pupils with English as their first language.

A spokesman for Oldham Council said they provide ‘extensive’ English language provision for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

He also said the council provide people with the necessary English language skills they will need to gain employment while also playing a part in community life.

Bill Godfrey - of Manchester Language School - believes it is the council’s responsibility to provide a suitable solution.

He said: “There are many excellent qualified teachers of English as a second language in Greater Manchester.

“Perhaps the answer in Oldham is to establish them as a cooperative working alongside Oldham Borough Council.”

Picture courtesy of Extra Ketchup via Flickr, with thanks

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