What Languages do People Speak in Canada?
While most Canadians speak one of two official languages, English and French, there are nearly 200 languages spoken in the country including Aboriginal or Indigenous languages, official languages, and "immigrant" languages.
How Many Languages Are Spoken in Canada?
There are 196 languages reported as being used in Canada. This includes the two official languages, English and French, as well as 128 "immigrant" or imported languages like German and Italy and about 66 Indigenous languages. All but three Indigenous languages in Canada are no longer considered viable with a low number of native speakers. ## Official Languages of Canada Canada has two official languages: English and French. Canada has an "official bilingualism" policy in terms of policies, constitutional protections, and provisions which means all government business is conducted in both languages and access to goods and services must be provided in both languages.
English is the most commonly spoken language in the country but French isn't far behind. The rate of English-French bilingualism in Canada has also reached an all-time high with almost 18% of Canadians able to speak English or French. About 86% of Canadians can speak English while 30% can speak French.
Most native French speakers in Canada live in Quebec, a province in which French is the only official language. In Quebec, about 77% of people are native French speakers or francophones and 95% speak French as a first or second language.
Other Languages of Canada
Canada is home to many languages. In addition to English and French, there are many non-official languages in use as well as Indigenous languages.
About 15% of Canadians speak a language at home other than English or French and 23% have a mother tongue other than an official language. The most frequently spoken languages (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/census-wednesday-language-1.4231213) at home other than French or English are: -- Mandarin (640,000 Canadians) -- Cantonese (595,000) -- Punjabi (568,000) -- Spanish (554,000) -- Tagalog (525,000) -- Arabic (514,000) -- Italian (51,000)
Tagalog is the fastest growing of these non-official languages, growing 35% between 2011 and 2018, followed by Arabic. Two-thirds of people who speak non-official languages live in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. In Vancouver, about 18% of people speak Mandarin, Punjabi, or Cantonese alone. Vancouver is notable as the four leading immigrant home languages account for 58% of the total population speaking an immigrant language at home.
There are also many Indigenous languages spoken in Canada. Combined, about 0.6% of Canadians speak an Indigenous language as their mother tongue. The most recent census shows that the number of Indigenous Canadians learning their native tongue is on the rise, however, suggesting many younger Indigenous people are learning it as a second language.
The most commonly spoken Indigenous languages are: Cree (84,000 Canadians) Inuktitut (39,000) Ojibway (22,000)
There are 12 Indigenous language families covering 65 languages and dialects. Some of these languages are sign languages. Only the three Indigenous languages above have enough native speakers to be considered likely to survive long-term. Some of these languages are spoken by less than 1,000 people.
Two territories of Canada give official status to native languages. The Northwest Territories grants official status to 11 languages including English, French, Cree, Chipewyan, and Inuktitut. Nunavut grants official status to Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.
In addition to dozens or more languages introduced by immigrants to Canada over the last two hundred years, there are also many unique Canadian dialects of common European languages. The following are some examples: -- Canadian Gaelic spoken fluently by about 1,000 people in northwest Cape Breton, Nova Scotia that came from immigrants who spoke Scottish Gaelic. -- Newfoundland English, a West Country dialect introduced by the first European settlers in the area. -- Canadian Ukrainian, a distinct Ukrainian dialect of Western Canada spoken by descendants of separate Ukrainian immigrant waves.