Translation in the UK – have you got it covered?

It’s a common misconception that translation and interpretation services in business are only necessary when dealing with global markets.

And it’s easy to see why – if your goal is to establish your business abroad, then communicating effectively with customers in foreign countries will be a priority; and you’ll want to spend the majority of your time and efforts focused on promoting and expanding your business overseas.

And of course, this is important and vital for global business success.

But it’s also crucial to be aware of the need for accurate translation right here in the UK too –and a failure to recognise the linguistic needs of your national customer base could mean selling your business short.

UK language statistics* – are you in the know?

Are you guilty of ignoring your UK customers when it comes to communicating and engaging with them most effectively? While most of us consider our country to be multicultural, it may surprise you to know the true extent of linguistic diversity that exists within the UK:

  • 4.2 million people in the UK reported a language other than English as their main language
  • In England and Wales 726,000 people reported that they could not speak English well
  • 138,000 people reported that they could not speak English at all
  • 22.1% of London’s residents have a main language other than English
  • The second most linguistically multicultural part of the UK is the East Midlands
  • Polish is the second most spoken language in the country with 546,000 speakers
  • After Polish the most common main languages used in the UK were from South Asia, including Panjabi, Urdu, Bengali and Gujarati.
So what does it mean for business?

The statistics regarding languages in the UK shouldn’t be ignored – if you are using English as your only means of communicating to your national customers, you could be significantly limiting your customer reach.

Of course, it isn’t financially viable, practical or even effective to start translating all your business materials into every language that is spoken by any one person in the UK. But it does make sense to firstly acknowledge the range of different languages that exist within the country; and then take steps to address the needs of your customers to build better engagement and communication with them.

Where to start?

Begin with identifying who it is you are trying to communicate with – do your customers largely come from London, the most multiculturally diverse area in the UK?

Or are the majority of your customers aged 25-35, an age group comprising 36% of all foreign-born workers in the UK**?

If your target market contains a significant proportion of people that speak another main language, then it may be in your interest to offer additional documents – for example, online content or marketing materials – translated into their first language.

Ultimately, you need to consider how your business might profit from reaching out to a wider audience – and how accurate translation will help to bridge the gap between the way your business communicates, and how it engages with every potential customer.

If you think your business could benefit from our translation and interpretation services, get in touch with us here at Sally Walker Language Services – we’d be happy to offer help and advice on a no-obligation basis.

* (Statistics from the 2011 Census;
** (in 2014,