Asian languages most prevalent in Metro Vancouver after English

Surrey accounts for two-thirds of region's Punjabi speakers

Almost a third of Metro Vancouverites speak a language other than English most often at home, according to newly released census data.

The results from the 2011 count highlight the region’s growing cultural and linguistic diversity as a result of steady immigration from Asia.

The single most prevalent immigrant language in the region is Punjabi – accounting for nearly 147,000 speakers or 6.4 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population of just under 2.3 million.

But Chinese languages make up much more if clumped together.

The census counted 133,000 Cantonese speakers (5.8 per cent), 92,000 Mandarin speakers (four per cent) and another 115,000 non-specifed Chinese speakers (five per cent) in Metro.

Philipine-based Tagalog is Canada’s fastest-growing language and is now spoken by three per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population, while the next top languages here are Korean (two per cent), Farsi, Spanish, German and Hindi (1.1 per cent.)

Just 58 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents speak only English at home, down from 65.2 per cent in 2001.

Increasingly, Metro residents are speaking both English and their mother tongue at home – that mixed use was reported by 24 per cent, up from 17.8 per cent a decade earlier.

Slightly more residents reported being unable to converse in the dominant official language.

Nearly 130,000 residents, or 5.7 per cent of the Metro population, indicated they could not speak English, up from five per cent in 2006.

More than seven per cent said they were officially bilingual, speaking both English and French, while just 0.1 per cent said French was their only official language.

Surrey is home to 94,000 South Asians who list Punjabi as their mother tongue – they make up 20 per cent of the city’s population and two-thirds of the Punjabi speakers in Metro Vancouver.

Half of Metro’s 23,000 Hindi speakers also live in Surrey.

Richmond is home to 23 per cent of Metro’s 330,000 residents who grew up speaking Chinese languages.

In Abbotsford-Mission, 69 per cent list English as their mother tongue and 79 per cent generally speak English only at home.

The census also counted 28,000 in Abbotsford-Mission whose mother tongue is Punjabi – 16.7 per cent of the population – while German was second at 6,500 or 3.9 per cent. Dutch, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese were next most common, at one per cent or less.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A criminal trial for Robert Boule (inset), the owner of the Smuggler’s Inn, is to begin in August 2021, following a failed application to strike down immigration-act provisions that he is charged under. (Photo courtesy of The Northern Light newspaper)
Blaine inn owner’s challenge of immigration act fails

Robert Boule’s trial on human-smuggling charges set to begin August 2021

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read