Newham Council Community Language Survey
Speakers of Gujurati
1. Characteristics of respondents
75 respondents answering the Language Survey were speakers of Gujurati. Table 1 summarises their general characteristics.
· 63% of the respondents were female and the vast majority were aged over 45 (95%), with two out of three respondents aged over 55.
· 84% originated in India, with the remainder originating largely in Africa (8%, or 6 respondents from Kenya and 1 respondent from Tanzania).
· Virtually 9 out of 10 of the Gujurati speakers interviewed (89%) had lived in this country for more than 10 years, and two out of every three for over 20 years.
Table 1: Characteristics of Gujurati language respondents
2. Language and communication skills
Language most comfortable using
All of the respondents were most comfortable using Gujurati when speaking. With regard to reading or writing, a proportion gave no answer as to which language they were most comfortable using as Table 2 below shows, but virtually all those answering were most comfortable with Gujurati (1 respondent preferred to write in Punjabi).
Base = all respondents
Having stated which language they felt most comfortable using, respondents were also asked about any other languages they felt comfortable using for everyday conversations. Three out of four volunteered no other language, but 21% mentioned Hindi, and a couple of respondents mentioned each of Punjabi, Katchi and Swahili.
Only one respondent was also comfortable with holding everyday conversations in English.
Formal verbal communication in English/ own language
Respondents were asked how confident they are about talking formally and understanding what is being said when someone is talking formally to them – they were given the examples of talking to their Doctor, the Police or the Council. They were asked about their talking and understanding in both English and their own language. Table 3 below compares the proportions able to talk formally in English and understand when English is spoken formally to them, with those able to talk or understand their own language in a formal situation.
Respondents were not at all confident about being able to communicate verbally in English – the vast majority, over 80% in each case, say they cannot talk formally or understand formal talk in English very well, and 15% not at all.
Among respondents who have been in this country over 20 years, two out of three feel they cannot communicate well in English in formal situations, and over a quarter say they cannot communicate at all.
Respondents show limited confidence about talking and understanding in a formal situation when using their own language – only one in every eight say they could communicate very well, with the majority (85%) saying they could communicate quite well.
Table 3 : Formal communication: talking and understanding
Formal written communication in English / own language
When asked about communicating in writing in English, respondents are less confident than with communicating verbally. Over half (56%) say they could not read a formal letter in English at all, and a further 43% not very well. The vast majority (80%) would not feel able to write a formal or official letter in English at all, and the remaining 20% say not very well.
However, respondents are much less confident about writing a formal letter in their own language than any other form of communication in their own language – over 80% say they could read and understand a formal letter very well or quite well, but only half as many (41%) believe they could write a formal letter very well or quite well.
Confidence in their ability to read English does not improve over time – of those who have lived here over 20 years, 64% say they could not read a formal letter in English at all and 72% that they could not write such a letter at all.
Table 4 : Formal communication: reading and writing
Reading an English newspaper/ publication
There are no Gujarati speaking respondents who are confident that they are able to read and understand the information in a daily newspaper such as the Sun, Mirror, Guardian or Times. One out of five respondents are not very confident and four out of five not at all confident about their ability to read a newspaper in English.
Table 5: Level of confidence in being able to read a daily newspaper in English
Base = all respondents
3. Contact with the Council
Use of council services
Only 36% of respondents claimed to have used council services in the past (27 respondents), giving a variety of reasons, most often for council tax payment or enquiries (41%), housing benefits (30%) or with regard to benefits in general (30%).
Table 6 below shows the level of understanding in both verbal and written contact with the Council.
(Clearly sample sizes are small so responses should be viewed with caution.)
Table 6: Ease of understanding Council staff/ letters from Council
Verbal contact with the council
81% of respondents had had face-to-face contact with council staff, while 7% (2 respondents) had spoken to them on the telephone and 7% (2 respondents) through an interpreter.
The majority had experienced difficulty in understanding the council staff that dealt with their enquiry, as shown in Table 6 above. Only a third said it was fairly easy to understand council staff, and 66% had experienced some or great difficulty.
Over three-quarters (78%) were presented with an option to use an interpreter, and five out of the six respondents not given this option felt that this would have helped.
Of those 21 respondents given the option of using an interpreter, all then mostly understood the council staff as a result. No respondents felt that having an interpreter failed to improve their understanding.
When visiting Council offices, the majority of the respondents normally take someone else with them, only 22% say they go alone:
- 56% take a friend
- 22% take a familymember
- 1 respondent takes an interpreter
Written contact with the Council
As with verbal contact, the majority of respondents only understand letters received from the council with difficulty (Table 6). None find letters or leaflets fairly or very easy to understand, 59% experience ‘some difficulty’ and over 40% ‘great difficulty’.
Virtually 90% of respondents said it would help if letters were translated, essentially because it would allow them to read it for themselves and be independent.
4. Communication options
15% of all respondents do not regularly read any newspaper. Table 7 below shows the most popular newspapers among the sample, dominated by Gujurat Samachar read by nearly a third of the sample (31%) and Gauri Gujurat, read by 12%.
A further 40% of the sample say they read Gujurati or Asian newspapers without specifying the title.
One or two respondents mention each of Janxtria, Lotto, Jung and The Sun.
Table 7: Readership of newspapers
Only a tiny proportion of respondents (5% or less) does not listen to any radio or TV channel in their own language.
Most popular among radio programmes is Sunrise Radio, which 95% of all respondents claim to listen to regularly.
By far the most mentioned TV channel is Zee TV, watched regularly by almost half of all respondents (48%). A further third of respondents (35%) say they watch Asian or Gujarati channels without specifying the name. The only other specific television channels mentioned by more than one respondent are TV Star (3%) and Sky Channels (4%).
Only 12% of all respondents live in households where someone has a computer – none own a computer themselves, but 9 respondents have a family member who owns one. However, there were no respondents who would be able to use the computer to access information.
Table 8 compares the proportions of the sample who can be reached by the different media types.
Table 8: Exposure to different media types
Base = all respondents
5. Other sources of information
Voluntary organisations visited
89% of all respondents regularly use or visit at least one voluntary organisation.
Of these 67 respondents:
· 67% mention GWA – representing 60% of the sample as a whole (45 respondents)
· 16% the Ekta Project - representing 15% of the whole sample (11 respondents)
· 7% the Sathi Day Centre (5 respondents)
· 4% Fair and Share (3 respondents)
No other centre or organisation is mentioned by more than one respondent.
Although sample sizes are too small for any detailed analysis GWA seems to be visited by those respondents who have lived in this country the shortest times, whereas the Ekta Project is favoured by older respondents and those who have lived here the longest.
Religious venues visited
A similar proportion of respondents regularly attends a religious venue – 87%. In most cases, these 65 respondents did not specify the name of the Hindu Temple visited. The main religious venues specified were the Radha Krishna Temple, the Upton Centre and Mandir – each mentioned by 14% or 9 respondents – and the Luxmi Marayanar Temple (6%, 4 respondents) and Shreenath Temple (5%, 4 respondents).
Sources of help and advice
Asked where they would go for help, advice or support, the highest proportion of respondents, 39%, would go to their Community Centre, a further 12% to their local ‘service centre’, 9% would turn to the Ekta Project and 3% to the Trinity Centre (2 respondents).
24% mention the Council offices or Town Hall, 16% the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and 5% suggested the Law Centre.
Only 5% said they would ask their friends, family and neighbours.
Other possibilities mentioned by a couple of respondents were the Warden’s Office and social workers.
Usual sources of information
When asked about ‘the most common way’ that they hear information (e.g. events, benefits etc), well over half of respondents refer to leaflets in English (61%). Only 5% mention leaflets in their own language. A third of respondents (33%) rely on word of mouth for their information.
Table 9: Most common way of hearing information
Base = all respondents
Respondents were also asked if they could think of anywhere else information could be publicised to make it easier for them to access. Around a third had no suggestions to make. Table 10 summarises the main suggestions put forward, dominated by Community Centres suggested by 63% of respondents. Religious centres were mentioned by one in 10 respondents and medical centres by 8%.
Table 10: Suggested places for publicising information
Base = all respondents
When asked which format would be most useful for information to be supplied in, respondents showed an overwhelming preference for text translations (88%) rather than audio, video or telephone translations. Text is preferred across all age groups.
The main reasons given for this preference are that text is:
· easier to understand (86%)
· can read it myself (44%).
Only a small percentage (7%) believe that the text translation is the least useful format for information in their own language.
Video and audio translations are generally regarded as the least useful format for information. Almost a half of respondents name video as the least useful (47%), and a further 31% feel audio tape translations would be least useful, in both cases seeing tapes as ‘more difficult’ and ‘not necessarily appropriate’.
Base = all respondents
6. Provision of information by the Council in leaflet form
Ease of reading leaflets
Table 12 shows how easy or difficult respondents find it to get information from leaflets in English and in their own language. All of the respondents have difficulty in reading leaflets themselves in English, with over 70% saying they would have great difficulty.
In addition, over 80% (83%) say they would have difficulty in getting someone to explain the contents of a leaflet to them.
Overall, 60% would look to a family member to help explain, 36% to a friend or neighbour and 7% mention a community or project worker as providing this role.
In contrast, the majority (79%) said they would find it fairly easy to read a leaflet in their own language, and 7% said very easy. 14% would encounter difficulty in reading a leaflet in their own language.
Alternatively, 88% said they could fairly or very easily get someone to explain a leaflet in their own language to them, again generally relying on family members (70%) or friends and neighbours (35%), with only a small minority (7%) relying on community workers or advisors.
Table 12: Ease of reading leaflets or getting leaflets explained in English and in own language
Base = all respondents
Preferred options for receiving information from the council
When asked initially, respondents generally welcomed the idea of being given details with a leaflet in English of where they could go to have an interpreter explain the leaflet to them – 96% felt this would be useful. The minority who rejected this suggestion (4%) did so largely because they don’t have the time to go to an interpreter.
However, given a number of options, having a place to go for a translation is less popular than receiving a fully translated leaflet – almost nine out of 10 respondents would prefer to have a fully translated leaflet (87%). This preference holds true for all age groups in the sample.
The option regarded as least useful is to have a partial translation with a system to get further information – over half of respondents (53%) pick this out of the four options presented to them as Table 13 below demonstrates. Also unpopular is the idea of a leaflet in English with a telephone number to request a translation – over a third of respondents (35%) like this idea least of the four.
Table 13: Most and least useful method for receiving general information
Full translated leaflet
Partial translation with a system to get further information
Leaflet in English with telephone number to request a translation
Somewhere you can go)
Summary Sheet - Gujurati
· Sample consists mainly of older women (over 55).
· Mostly from India, some from East Africa.
· Long UK residency, many over ten or twenty years.
· Very high newspaper readership Gujurat Samachar), very high use of radio (Sunrise Radio) and TV (Zee TV).
· Low level of computer owners.
· Very high use of voluntary organisations (GWA).
· Very high use of religious venues (LocaL Hindu Temple).
· Information/advice/help gained via English leaflets from Community Centres.
· English - Verbal - uncertain, most feel they can make an attempt
Written - poor, find writing especially difficult
· Gujurati - Verbal - quite good, many are confident
Written - quite poor, low confidence level
· Only 1/3 have utilised council services (for Council Tax/Benefits).
· Contact evaluated as difficult, although verbal significantly easier than written.
· Most verbal contact is face to face; many take a friend/family member for help.
· Prefer full Gujurati text translations of leaflets.
· Suggest providing this information in Community Centres, implying that current distribution methods are satisfactory.