Census 2021 provides some very interesting findings. In B.C., 27.9% of the population states that their mother tongue is neither of the official languages (English & French). Whereas in Vancouver, those who speak Chinese (including Mandarin, Cantonese, and other dialects) at home is as high as 39%.
Ten most commonly spoken languages in B.C. households, after English, 2021 Census.
As the demographics change, so should the strategies towards reaching the community in the most effective way. This applies to governments, institutions, and private businesses.
Nationally, 4.6 million (12.7%) people do not speak either of the official languages at home. Out of which 530,000 speaks Mandarin, 520,000 speaks Punjabi, 390,000 speaks Cantonese followed by Farsi (290,000) and Tagalog (280,000).
Apparently, B.C. has the highest percentage of people who do not speak either of the official languages at home – 17.1% compared to 15.7% in Ontario.
Translating messages from English to Chinese (either manually or via Google Translate) is not enough and, actually, should be avoided. The crucial thing is to understand the culture and nuances to ensure the messages are not “lost in translation”. Consumers are smart and vigilant – if they are upset or dissatisfied, you lose them forever.
Here’s a further breakdown of the Chinese languages and dialects in B.C. :
What’s the take away? Exploring a “foreign” market is great but using the right language and being culturally-sensitive are imperative!