NEARLY 140,000 people living in England and Wales cannot speak English, the 2011 Census has shown.

The national tongue is not the main language for about four million residents (8% of the population), the data showed.

After English, the second most prevalent language was Polish, spoken by 1% of the population - a total of 546,000 people. This was followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

The 2011 Census was the first to ask how well people could speak English when this was not their main form of communication.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed 138,000 residents could not speak the language at all.

Some 726,000 had a weak grasp of English. Around 1.6 million could speak the language "well" while around 1.7 million could speak it "very well".

It was the main language for 92% of residents (50 million people) aged three or older.

The Census found 49 different tongues were used as the main form of communication by groups of more than 15,000 people.

Of the top five languages, three were South Asian. Meanwhile, a small number of people (22,000) used sign language.

A regional breakdown found 22% (1.7 million) of Londoners used a main language other than English.

© Press Association 2013