What Languages do People Speak in Australia?

With a population of more than 25 million, it's no surprise that Australia is home to a diverse collection of languages. The official language is English but dozens of languages are spoken throughout the country, including a number of indigenous languages.

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Australia?


There are more than 40 languages commonly spoken in Australia. In addition to English, there are dozens of indigenous languages of Australia in common use as well as dozens of immigrant languages.

Official Languages of Australia

Australia has no official language. English is considered the de facto national language, however. The primary dialect in Australia is General Australian or Australian English which differs in some ways from American and U.K. English in terms of spelling and grammar.

According to a 2016 census, 73% of Australians speak English as the only language at home. Of the 25.3 million people in Australia, about 1 million do not speak English at all.

Other Languages of Australia

When Europeans first made contact, it was believed there were more than 400 indigenous languages in Australia. There are about 15 still in use by all ages and about 110 other indigenous languages that are only spoken by older people in the communities. At the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians (12% of the population) reported speaking an indigenous language at home.

Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal languages that have the most speakers in Australia today are: -- Upper Arrernte spoken by the Arrernte people of the Northern Territory. There are about 4,500 native speakers. -- Kalaw Lagaw Ya spoken by the Torres Strait Islanders, now mostly replaced by Torres Strait Creole. There are about 1,000 native speakers. -- Tiwi spoken by the Tiwi people near the northern coast. There are about 2,000 native speakers. -- Warlpiri spoken by the Warlpiri of the Northwest Territory. About 2,300 native speakers remain and it's one of the largest remaining aboriginal Australian languages. -- Walmajarri spoken by the Walmajarri and related people of Western Australia. There are less than 300 native speakers remaining. -- Western Desert is a dialect cluster spoken by about 7,400 people in the desert areas of South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.

Two Creole languages have developed in Australia since contact with Europeans: -- Torres Strait Creole spoken in southwest Papua and Queensland -- Kriol spoken in Western Australia and the Northern Territory

After English, the most common languages spoken by Australians at home are: -- Mandarin (2.5%) -- Arabic (1.4%) -- Vietnamese (1.2%) -- Italian (1.2%) -- Cantonese (1.2%)

Other languages spoken at home (https://www.racismnoway.com.au/about-racism/australias-cultural-diversity/diversity-of-language/) include: -- Bengali -- Croatian -- Filipino -- French -- German -- Greek -- Gujarati -- Hindi -- Indonesian -- Japanese -- Korean -- Macedonian -- Malaysian -- Mandarin -- Nepali -- Persian -- Polish -- Portuguese -- Punjabi -- Russian -- Serbian -- Sinhalese -- Spanish -- Tagalog -- Tamil -- Thai -- Turkish -- Urdu

Primary Languages

Name
English
Pop. Speaking
21,900,000
Dialects
Australian Standard English, Aboriginal English, Neo-Nyungar (Noogar, Noonga, Noongar)

Other Languages

Mandarin Chinese
336,000
Italian
300,000
Yue Chinese
264,000
Greek
252,000
German
80,400
Japanese
43,700
Kriol
14,200
Auslan
7,150
Torres Strait Creole
6,040
Pitjantjatjara
3,720
Eastern Arrernte
2,840
Djambarrpuyngu
2,770
Warlpiri
2,510
Murrinh-Patha
1,830
Tiwi
1,720
Pintupi-Luritja
1,680
Alyawarr
1,660
Wik-Mungkan
1,650
Gupapuyngu
1,530
Dhuwaya
1,500
Anindilyakwa
1,280
Kala Lagaw Ya
1,220
Gunwinggu
1,140
Burarra
1,070
Anmatyerre
1,000
Western Arrarnta
1,000
Gurindji Kriol
1,000
Ngaanyatjarra
1,000