Language used at home

Mnemonic (reference code): LANGPS11

Type: Primary variable

Definition:  The language that a person uses at home

Applicability: Person

Classification: See Language Classification for a detailed classification list

Not applicable category (X) comprises: Schoolchildren and full-time students living away from home during term time.

Source question:

Image of Scottish question 18 from 2011

This question has three tick boxes ‘No, English only’, ‘Yes, British Sign Language’ and 'Yes, other'. All other languages are recorded as a text field. The other languages are coded to 603 categories. The categories in this classification may have been combined within the tables.

Specifically, Gaelic, Scots and Polish have been identified as being the most frequently used (after English only) and of having special interest. The Gaelic category in tables is formed from combining the Gaelic (Scottish) and Gaelic (not otherwise specified) language codes. English, Gaelic and Scots language skills are also recorded in language skills.

Reason for asking: This information helps central government, local authorities and the NHS to allocate resources and provide services for non-English speakers, for example English teaching and translation services. It is a better indicator than country of birth, which was previously used to forecast the additional cost of providing services to people whose first language is not English. The data is also used to assess the impact of English language ability on employment and other social inclusion indicators.

The number of people using Gaelic and Scots at home is of cultural importance.

Information on the number of British Sign Language users helps with service planning and assists in developing policies to address the needs of the deaf community.

These statistics are used by public service providers to effectively target delivery of  services, for example translation and interpretation services, the availability of English language lessons and the distribution of official information leaflets in alternative languages.

England & Wales (2011) and Scotland (2001) comparisons:

Question 18 in England and Wales has only 2 tick boxes. Unlike Scotland there is no tick box for British Sign Language which is to be written in the text box. The question in England and Wales also relates to a person's main language.

Q18 England & Wales 2011 questionnaire

This question first asked in 2011 and so there is no comparable question in 2001.


To see which of our published standard, additional and commissioned tables use this variable please use the Table Index.