Jeden, dwa, trzy… the second most spoken language in England is Polish, according to new statistics.
A census of residents of England and Wales found that well over half a million speak Polish, reflecting the large number of immigrants who have come to Britain from eastern Europe over the past decade.
In one London supermarket, newspaper racks are stacked with Polish newspapers. An “alchohol” sign has another alongside it reading “alkohol”, though the store’s owner accepts his customers hardly need the translation.
“Some of them (Polish immigrants) actually speak better than me after five years and I’ve been here 65 years. Yes, most of them speak English. Some, obviously takes time, because English language is very difficult to learn,” said Wladyslaw Mleczko.
The survey found that nearly 140,000 residents spoke no English at all, while almost three quarters of a million spoke it badly.
Many Poles though go to great lengths to learn the language of their adopted country.
“In terms of the work ethic, you know, these guys are working ten-hour days and then they’re coming here in the evenings afterwards, so I take my hat of to them for that. I wouldn’t do the same,” said English teacher Tom Easten.
The new arrivals have brought their culture – and some controversy – to Britain, but can they make themselves understood?
“I like living here, but why does it always rain?!” chanted three students in semi-comprehensible unison.