Language used at home (LANP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable identifies whether a person uses a language other than English at home and if so, records the main non-English language which is used. The purpose of this variable is to identify the main languages other than English which are used in households across Australia.


All persons


Language used at home (LANP) is classified using the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2016. The categories are listed in groups below. The full list is available from the Data downloads on this page.

1 Northern European Languages

2 Southern European Languages

3 Eastern European Languages

4 Southwest and Central Asian Languages

5 Southern Asian Languages

6 Southeast Asian Languages

7 Eastern Asian Languages

8 Australian Indigenous Languages

9 Other Languages

 Supplementary codes 

Number of categories:

  • One digit level: 12
  • Two digit level: 63
  • Three digit level: 63
  • Four digit level: 505

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

Does the person use a language other than English at home?

How this variable is created

This variable is created from responses to the language used at home question. Respondents may either use a mark box to indicate the language used at home or write the name of the language in the text field. When a person marks more than one language or marks a language and gives a text response, responses are accepted in the order they appeared on the form and the extra response is rejected.

The majority of responses for LANP are captured automatically from the mark box response. Written responses are coded using a combination of automatic reading and coding processes. The remaining responses require manual coding processes when they could not be coded or derived automatically.

If a response is not listed in the classification, it is coded to 'Inadequately described'.

History and changes

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 1933, the question asked people who could not read and write in English but were able to read and write in a foreign language, to state that language. In 1976, people were asked for all languages spoken. In 1981 and 1986, all people were asked if they spoke a language other than English at home and, if so, how well they spoke English. In addition to this, since 1991 people have been asked to name their non-English language.

In the 2021 Census, the question wording was amended to include the word 'use' rather than 'speak' to better accommodate members of the community who use sign language. 

The response category order has changed based on the most common answers from the 2016 Census:

  • 'Yes, Italian' changed from 3rd to 6th position
  • 'Yes, Arabic' changed from 4th to 3rd position
  • 'Yes, Cantonese' changed from 5th to 4th position
  • 'Yes, Greek' changed from 6th to 7th position
  • 'Yes, Vietnamese' changed from 7th to 5th position

An enhancement to the online form presented a check box for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language for those respondents who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the Indigenous status question. To improve the data collected on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, the person also had the option of specifying the language.

Data use considerations

This question only allows for one answer and therefore the number of responses shown in the category '1201 English' is not all persons who use English, but specifically persons who use only English at home.

Persons who report a language other than English to the 'language used at home' question are then asked 'How well does the person speak English?'. Responses to this question are coded to the variable Proficiency in spoken English (ENGLP).

The non-response rate for Language used at home (LANP) was 5.7% in 2021. This is a decrease from 6.5% in 2016.

Related variables and glossary terms

  • Proficiency in spoken English (ENGLP)
  • Whether reported using an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language at home (LNGP)
  • Indigenous Status (INGP)
  • Ethnicity

Data downloads

Language used at home classification

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