Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Language spoken most often at home

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: August 17, 2022

Definition

Language spoken most often at home refers to the language the person speaks most often at home at the time of data collection. A person can report more than one language as "spoken most often at home" if the languages are spoken equally often.

For a person who lives alone, the language spoken most often at home is the language in which they feel most comfortable. For a child who has not yet learned to speak, this is the language spoken most often to the child at home. Where more than one language is spoken to the child, the language spoken most often at home is the language spoken most often. If more than one language is spoken equally often to the child, then these languages are included here.

Statistical unit(s)

Classification(s)

Reported in

2021, 2016 and 2011 (100% data); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Total population

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 9b)

Responses

Refer to figures 2.4, 2.4A, 2.4B, 2.4C2.4D2.4E, 2.4F, 2.4G, 2.4H, 2.4I, 2.4J and 2.4K for the detailed list of languages disseminated in the 2021 Census. A comparison of languages disseminated in the 2021, 2016 and 2011 censuses is available in Appendix 2.2.

Remarks

The home language question (Question 9) was divided into the following two parts:

a) What language(s) does this person speak on a regular basis at home?

b) Of these languages, which one does this person speak most often at home?

"Language spoken most often at home" is a direct variable from Question 9b).

A note accompanying Question 9b) on both the paper and electronic questionnaires stated "Indicate more than one language only if they are spoken equally at home."

The following additional instructions on how to complete the question on the language spoken most often at home (Question 9b)) were provided to respondents via a help button accessible in the electronic questionnaire:

Since 2001, the census has measured three home language concepts: all languages spoken at home, the language spoken most often at home, and other languages spoken regularly at home. While the concepts themselves remain intact, both the way in which the question is asked and the process to obtain the variables have changed for the 2021 Census.

In 2021, the first part of the question (Question 9a)) asked for all languages spoken on a regular basis at home. Those who did not report English only or French only were asked which language they speak most often at home (Question 9b)). This is different from the 2016 Census, which first asked all respondents to report the language they speak most often at home, and then asked for any other languages they speak on a regular basis at home.

When comparing 2021 Census data on home language with data from 1996 or before, only the language spoken most often at home can be used since there was no question regarding languages spoken on a regular basis at home before the 2001 Census.

For more information on language variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Languages Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.

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