Library Archives

Languages in Vancouver

Language Vancouver

Take a walk down the streets of Vancouver and you’ll know that many languages are spoken in this city.

In 2011 it was reported that over one-half of Vancouver’s immigrant’s speak two languages? 72.8 per cent of the Vancouver’s immigrant population reported a foreign mother tongue. However, many of these individuals have knowledge of English or French in addition to their first language.

According to, the most common languages spoken in Vancouver are English and Chinese. Other common languages spoken in Vancouver include Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish.

If you are new to Vancouver and English is already your first language consider learning a new language! Learning a foreign language can expand your knowledge, introduce you to a new culture, and eliminate social barriers and so much more!

However, if you are new to Vancouver and English is not your first language then there are many resources, school and opportunities for you to learn the two official languages in Vancouver and Canada: English and French.


As a newcomer, what are the benefits of learning a new language? Since English is the primary language in the city – in order to feel at home, it is essential to be able to speak, read and write in English.

Having strong skills in the English language will make it easier for you to find a job, succeed in school, access services, communicate with others, integrate into your community, and complete daily activities such as going to a doctor, banking and even going grocery shopping!

If you are a permanent resident in Vancouver, there are many resources provided to help you learn English and/or French. Government-funded classes are free to take but you will need to pay if you are interested in private language languages.

Find out more about classes funded by the Government of Canada.


Vancouver is has multiple resources for people wishing to learn a new language. You can learn languages including English, French, Cantonese, Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish as well as many others.

If you want to find out where, when and how you can learn or a new language or simply improve your existing knowledge, the City of Vancouver website can help!

Here, you can find either free or affordable classes, programs and drop-in activities, tailored to your preference of language, age-group, level, day, time, location and much more! The language classes you can find through this portal are located across the entire Vancouver area and are available to all.

There are classes available for learning or improving English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. These classes are available to all individuals beginning from the age of one. So, not only can you learn a new language but also so can your children!

If you would rather learn a new language on your own or want to simply gain additional knowledge, the Vancouver Public Library has resources available in 54 different languages.

The library staff can also help you find information in the language you are looking for. Visit for more information!

Another resource available to Vancouver newcomers wishing to learn a new language is the LISTN website. LISTN (Language Instruction and Training Network) is the provincial branch for LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada).

LISTN’s mission is to “to help their clients achieve language and resettlement goals by providing leadership, communication networks, and resources”.

Here you can find a list of language services in your area.

Happy Learning!

Learning Mango Language Style

If you’re looking for that extra help in learning a new language, look no further. Your BC Public Libraries offer a solution that makes it easy to learn when convenient for you. Search for Mango Languages on your Library webpage and follow these easy steps to getting started:

Step 1: Create your Mango Languages account. You will need your Library Card to access this service, and you will require an email and be asked to create a password.


Step 2: Pick your language. I found this hard with so many choices available. In the end, I closed my eyes and pointed to the screen. I landed on French. I jest; I actually want to learn French to support my daughter in her French Immersion Education and my French skills are limited to say the least. I imagine us, 10 years from now, going on a trip to France together and being able to converse our way around with ease. It’s a long term goal, but one to work towards.


Step 3: Load the program. It doesn’t take too long. Remember the days of dial-up-internet and rejoice that technology has come so far.


Step 4: Start your program by clicking on the appropriate starting point. I’m starting with the basics because my French is so limited. Some of this will be review, but most of it will be new to me.


I have made it through Lesson 1. My daughter likes to laugh at the progress I’ve made so far and corrects me often, but it has been a fun experience for the both of us. Her ability to teach me only reinforces her learning so far and gives her the added confidence of being smarter than her mother. Nothing wrong with that….for now.