Most spoken languages in Canada


Canada is a modern country that attracts people from all over the globe for its well-preserved environment, safety and good quality of life. Canada boasts a multicultural society, with people from across the globe, living together, despite the cultural differences that come with being a culturally diverse country.

The number of languages in a country where people of different cultures mingle freely will be in plenty. The languages evolve constantly by borrowing words from each other, resulting in new slang and new users. The languages of Canada are as diverse as the population that speaks it and hence, Canada gives you another reason why it is a country many chose to travel to or to start a new life.

It is natural to find yourself asking one, or all, of the following questions; which is the most spoken language in Canada? Does Canada have an official language? Does Canadian English exist? What are the languages of Canada? 

We have answered these questions and more! Read on to discover what Canada has on offer for the aspiring linguist within you.



The most practiced and widely spread languages of Canada are English and French. These are the two languages that have the prestigious title of being the official languages of the Canadian Government. Every branch of Government and the literature published officially are either in English or French. The most spoken language in Canada is English, over 50% regard it as their first and only language with Canadian French coming in second with over 23% of the population using it as their first language, according to statistics Canada.



There is a variety of French that is unique within the borders of Canada. Looking deeper into the various dialects and types of French in Canada, you begin to realize French in Canada varies as you travel across the country.

From the oldest variety of Metis French, language spoken in Canada by the aboriginals of the First Nations Metis people, to the most popular Quebec French, there are subtle differences to the French practiced in France and other francophone nations. Quebec French is often passed as Canadian French as Quebec is the de-facto home of the majority French-speaking Canadians. The differences arise in the form of varied vocabulary as Canadian French continues to use several words and phrases that no longer exist in traditional French. Variations are also observed in pronunciation and grammar, with Canadian French taking a more casual approach to personal pronouns (‘tu’, ‘on’) instead of ‘vous’ and ‘nous’.

So, the next question is does Canadian English exist and the simple answer is yes!


English too has subtle differences in Canada, when compared to the English practiced by their counterparts in America and the UK. Canadian English is a combination of American and British English with the addition of some features that are unique to Canadian English. Some words such as ‘recognize’ or ‘realize’ are spelled the American way with ‘-ize’ and not ‘-ise’ as spelled in British English. While words like ‘colour’ and ‘centre’ are spelled the British way rather than ‘color’ or ‘center’ as in American English. There are differences in the language syntax as well, which makes Canadian English unique yet similar. These differences can be found in punctuation as well as the process of hyphenation.


As people moved to Canada from across the globe, over the centuries, they brought with them their culture and language too. Historically, Canada has had constant waves of migrants moving to the country to build a better life for themselves. This has led to the introduction of several languages in Canada, which fall under the umbrella of migrant or foreign languages. These languages continue to thrive as newer generations of once migrant families continue to live in Canada. According to the 2016 Census, 43.9% of Toronto residents had a mother tongue other than English or French.

As far as foreign languages are concerned, Chinese Mandarin is the most spoken language in Canada, with Cantonese, another branch of the Chinese language, coming in second. Punjabi, popular amongst the migrants from the Indian subcontinent has the third greatest number of speakers, along with Tagalog, which has its presence in the Philippines as well as the USA. There are other languages emerging in Canada, with Urdu, Tamil, German and Arabic speakers increasing. Italian and Spanish are also in the mix of languages in Canada.



The Canadian demographics paint a colorful picture as the population consists of people from all across the globe. With a population of over 37 million in the latest census, it is believed that 32.3% of Canadians consider their ethnic origin to be Canadian with several groups such as English (18.3%), Scottish (13.9%), French (13.6%), Irish (13.4%), German (9.6%) and Chinese (5.1%) forming the majority of the Canadian society. 

The growth rate of Aboriginal Canadians is on the rise as well. The latest figures show that Canada’s population of Aboriginal people is witnessing an increase in birth rates. Numbers estimate the average aboriginal birth rate to be twice that of the national birth rate for the whole of Canada.

The Aboriginals speak ethnic tongues, and it is estimated there are about 11 Aboriginal languages in Canada, with people belonging to the first nations, Metis and Inuit. Some of the surviving indigenous languages of Canada include Cree, Inuktitut, Ojibwa, Innu, (Montagnais-Naskapi), Dene, Anishinini (Oji-Cree), Mi’kmaq, Dakota/Sioux, Atikamekw, and Blackfoot.  

The Aboriginals, however, make-up only 4-6% of the total population. Along with the groups mentioned above, there is a significant presence of people of Indian origin as well as other countries from the Indian subcontinent. 


There are over 200 languages spoken in the Canada, with some more widespread than others. The pluralistic society of Canada is filled with people of various origins and this is reflected in the linguistic makeup of the country as well. Canada is a modern linguistic treasure chest, offering the avid language enthusiast plenty of opportunities to immerse oneself in a linguistic wonderland.



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