2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
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Language Spoken at Home (LANP)

This variable records responses to the Census question 'Does the person speak a language other than English at home?'. It is applicable to all persons.

How this variable is created

Language Spoken at Home is coded using the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL).

Respondents may either use a mark box to indicate the language spoken at home or write the name of any other language in the text field. The majority of responses for Language Spoken at Home were captured automatically from the mark box response (87.9%). Written responses were coded using a combination of automatic reading and coding processes (11.2%). The remaining responses required manual coding processes when they could not be coded or derived automatically (0.9%).

If a response is not listed in the classification, it is coded to 'Inadequately Described'. In 2016, 0.1% of data for Language Spoken at Home were coded to Inadequately Described.

In 0.9% of pre-processed data, people had either marked more than one language or had marked a language and also given a text response. In these cases, responses were accepted in the order they appeared on the form and the extra response was rejected.

A minor review of the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL) classification was conducted ahead of the 2016 Census. Changes were limited to: adding and removing languages; amending the names of some languages; and adding appropriate entries to the expanded structure and coding index. These changes were made based on 2011 Census data, research from external sources and stakeholder queries and suggestions. There were no changes to the broad level of the classification. More information on the changes is available in Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL).

Variable history

A question relating to languages spoken was first asked in the 1933 Census, but not again until the 1976 Census. All censuses since then have included a similar question.

In 2016, there was a minor change to the language question involving reordering the list of mark boxes. This change was a result of analysis of Language data from the 2011 Census.

In 2016, there was also a change to the response categories for the language question on the Interviewer Household Form, which is used in Discrete Indigenous communities (see the Data Usage notes section for more information). An extra response category was added to allow for the collection of languages other than English, or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages.

Non-response rate

Item non-response rates are a measure of how many people did not respond to a particular question as a proportion of the total number of people the question was applicable to. In this instance the response is left as not stated.

The majority of item non-response is attributable to the people who did not respond to the Census at all. Refer to item non-response tables for more information. The second and smaller contributor to item non-response is when people return a Census form but may not answer a particular question(s). For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

The non-response rate for this variable was 6.5% (5.1% in 2011).

Data Usage notes

As in previous Censuses, an Indigenous Enumeration Strategy was used in nominated discrete communities. This strategy was developed to enable the best possible coverage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and raise the quality of the count for this small but significant population group. In many nominated discrete communities, collection of Census information was primarily undertaken by an Interviewer, using a tailored Interviewer Household Form.

The number of people in the 'Australian Indigenous languages, not further defined' category has increased between 2011 and 2016 (from 2,742 people to 8,803 people respectively). This could be partly due to the new question design on the Interviewer Household Form. The new question design on the Interviewer Household Form should be considered when comparing numbers between Censuses as it may also account for some changes observed in other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages.

Further information

A definition of Language Spoken at Home is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.
For information related to Language Spoken at Home, see data quality statements for Proficiency in Spoken English (ENGP) and Proficiency in Spoken English/Language (ENGLP)

Household form question image

Question 16 as it appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 16. Does the person speak a language other than English at home?

Question 25 as it appeared on the 2016 Census Interviewer Household Form:
Image: 2016 Interviewer Household Form - Question 25. Does the person speak an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language at home?

Question 16 as it appeared on the 2011 Census Household Paper Form:
Image; 2011 Household Paper Form - Question 16. Does the person speak a language other than English at home?

Question 24 as it appeared on the 2011 Census Interviewer Household Form:
Image: 2011 Interviewer Household Form - Question 24. Does the person speak an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language at home?

A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.