MORE than 11,000 people in Gwent speak a first language other than English or Welsh.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics’ 2011 census show the rainbow of tongues spoken by two per cent of the region.

The largest spoken language after English and Welsh is Polish, with 1,671 people reporting that it is their main language among 3,865 who speak languages from the European Union.

The figures cover what residents report as their “main language” – said to be either their first or preferred language – and rank Welsh first language speakers together with English ones. There were 54,958 people who said they can speak Welsh.

Of the 11,423 in the region that do not speak English as their first or preferred language, 423 say they cannot speak English and 2,296 cannot speak English well.

Some 8,704 told statisticians they could speak English very well or well.

The largest number of people whose main language is not English was in Newport, with 6,948 residents, followed by Caerphilly county with 1,586 and Monmouthshire with 1,195.

In total there were 3,865 people who speak of European Union languages as their first or preferred language – with 470 using Slovak, 267 speaking Romanian and 239 speaking Italian.

Meanwhile there were 2,933 people who speak languages from the Indian subcontinent – with 865 saying they speak Bengali, or the other Bangladeshi languages Sylheti and Chittagonian.

A total of 550 people spoke Urdu, while 89 people said they prefer its close sister, Hindi.

Three people said they spoke Irish Gaelic while one person from Torfaen said their main language was Cornish.

African languages are used by 422 people – with Somali speakers the largest group at 107 residents.

There were 1,683 speakers of East Asian languages, with the largest group made up of 507 speakers of Chinese languages other than Mandarin and Cantonese.