Languages in Coventry
The 2011 Census for Coventry recorded 303,130 residents aged three and over (www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011census). Of these, 86.1% spoke English as their “main language”. The next most widely spoken languages were Panjabi (2.3%), Polish (2%), Gujurati (0.83%), Urdu (0.82%) and Arabic (0.6%). The chart below shows the top 20 languages spoken in Coventry and their absolute number of speakers (N.B. English has been excluded from the chart to allow closer inspection of numbers). There were a further 50 named languages used in Coventry, accounting for 2.38% of residents, while the remaining 1.06% of languages are unnamed and grouped in categories named “other…” or “any…”, therefore making it impossible to state the exact number of languages spoken in Coventry. One issue with the census question is that it asks for the individual’s “main language” and does not allow a multilingual speaker to enter more than one language. Thus, it could be the case that an individual speaks English and Panjabi, for example, but has entered English as their main language. Consequently, the census data does not fully represent the extent of multilingualism in Coventry.
Supplementary language schools in Coventry
Supplementary language schools are community-run, independent schools which offer language and culture education to children alongside their mainstream education, or to adult community members. They are also known as complementary schools, Saturday schools, community language schools, ethnic schools or heritage language schools.
Previous research on Coventry's supplementary schools is limited but includes:
- Evans, D. & Gillian-Thomas, K. (2015). Descriptive analysis of supplementary school pupils’ characteristics and attainment in seven local authorities in England, 2007/08-2011/12. Paul Hamlyn Foundation. https://www.phf.org.uk/publications/supplementary-schools-research-report/
- Nagra, J. S. (1981). Asian supplementary schools: A case study of Coventry. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 9:3, 431-436. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.1981.9975718
The current project aims to survey the current supplementary language schools in Coventry with respect to the languages and subjects offered; the location and premises; teaching hours; numbers and characteristics of students and teachers; program levels and assessments. The map below shows some of the supplementary schools that have been identified so far. Preliminary findings suggest that not all of Coventry's most widely spoken languages are taught in supplementary schools, while some of the lesser spoken languages, such as Greek (28th most spoken language), are. Furthermore, supplementary language schools are not necessarily located in the areas of Coventry where the majority of the language community live.
A booklet published by Coventry City Council in 1977