Canada’s languages

Canada has 2 official languages, French and English. Across Canada, you’ll hear many other unofficial languages in restaurants, on buses and at school. In fact, more than 200 languages from around the world are spoken. Canada also has 60 Indigenous languages. Will you find language barriers? We don’t think so because you’ll find people all around you who are more than willing to help you out. In fact, we think you’ll love Canadian culture!

Did you know?

  • More than 7 million people in Canada are foreign born
  • The most common languages[1] they speak are:
    • Chinese languages
    • Punjabi
    • Spanish
    • Italian
    • German
    • Tagalog
    • Arabic
    • Portuguese
    • Polish
    • Urdu
  • 1.4 million Canadians are Indigenous

Canadian French

Since the 1600s, Canadians have added a unique flavour and zest to the mother tongue that came with their ancestors from France.

If you expect to do post-secondary studies in French or to learn French in Canada, you will notice differences between French in Canada and French as spoken elsewhere in the world.

Canadian French is an official subset of French. It includes dialects of French from different parts of Canada, such as Quebec French, the Acadian dialect (from Atlantic Canada) and the Prairie dialect (from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan).

Quebec is the only province where the majority of people are francophone. In fact, Quebec’s francophones account for approximately 90% of Canada’s French-speaking population.

Some fun facts about French in Quebec

  • 95% of people in Quebec speak French[2].
  • Stop signs say ARRÊT instead of STOP as they do in other francophone countries.
  • Shopping in Quebec is referred to as « faire du magasinage » or « magasiner» (from the word magasin, which means store).
  • The weekend is known as « la fin-de-semaine » in Quebec.
  • Young women refer to their boyfriends as « mon chum » or « mon copain », while young men refer to their girlfriends as « ma blonde ».

Discover the differences between Quebec French and French in France, and find out everything you need to know about speaking French in Quebec.

[1] Government of Canada, Annual Report on the Operation of the Multiculturalism Act, 2015–16.

[2] Statistics Canada, Census Profile, 2016.