Figures from the 2011 census show that across England 1.7% of the population cannot speak English. This rises up to 9% in some parts of London. Six projects across England have been awarded £6m in government funding to teach English to the public using non-conventional methods.
They competed for funding with the aim of reaching 24,000 non-English speakers in so-called priority areas across London, the Midlands and the North. The winners, picked from 124 entrants, were tasked with coming up with innovative approaches for English tuition in local communities. The projects are meant to put language learning into daily activities.
The projects will be given funding initially but then encouraged to become self-sustaining.
Councils have been told they must encourage people to speak English.
Jan Bros, director at one of the six projects, the London based e3 Partnership, said learning English was far more preferable to relying on translators.
She said: ‘”It is better to empower individuals to undertake things for themselves than encourage them to be passive.
“Our learners would rather be able to have conversations themselves than rely on family members to do everything for them.”
Those behind the e3 Partnership say they also aim to increase the employment prospects of those taking part.
Ms Bros said as part of their programme they will encourage learners to take part in local markets, including setting up their own stalls.
If successful there are plans to roll out the winning projects on a larger scale.