First or preferred language

*NEW* The 2021 Census found that 28,600 residents in Oxford aged 3 and over had a main language that was not English. This compares to 23,700 in 2011.

  • At 18% of the population, this is twice the 9% national average and higher than the county average of 8%.
  • Of those residents whose main language was not English, the vast majority reported that they could speak English well or very well.
  • 2.3% of residents (3,600 people) said they could not speak English or could not speak it well. This is slightly higher than the national average of 1.9%.
  • After English, the most commonly spoken language among residents in Oxford was Portuguese (2,707 people), followed by Spanish (2,214 people), and Polish (2,185 people).
  • Other popular languages include, ‘All other Chinese’ (1,580), Romanian (1,466), Italian (1,438), Arabic (1,141), German (1,120), French (966), and Urdu (860).

We also have data on languages spoken by Oxford children, from the annual schools Census. This collects data about children who attend state schools in Oxfordshire. 

  • January 2021 School Census data showed that around 33% of pupils in state-funded schools in Oxford have a language other than English as their first language. This is higher than the other Oxfordshire districts and the county as a whole.