What Languages Are Spoken In Myanmar (Burma)?

The official flag of Myanmar (Burma).
The official flag of Myanmar (Burma).

Nearly 100 languages are spoken in Myanmar (Burma). The most popular among them is the Burmese which is spoken by two-thirds of the country’s population. English is a popular foreign language in the country.

The Official Language Of Myanmar

The official language of Myanmar is Burmese. It is also the most widely spoken language in the country. Burmese, a Sino-Tibetan language, is the mother tongue of millions of Bamar people who speak it as a first language. Burmese is also spoken by the Mon ethnic minority group and some other minority ethnic groups in Myanmar. The Burmese language is related to the Chinese and Tibetan languages. The script used to write Burmese was developed in the 5th century from a southern Indian script. Burmese is taught in schools across the country and in the numerous monasteries dotting Myanmar. The language is age-oriented and includes the usage of honorifics. About 32 million people speak Burmese as their first language. Another 10 million people speak it as a second language.

Indigenous Languages Of Myanmar


The Shan language is a native language of Myanmar that is spoken by the Shan people. The language is mostly spoken in the country’s Shan State. It is also spoken in some parts of Burma’s Kachin state as well. The Shan language belongs to the Tai–Kadai language family. Approximately 3.2 million people speak the Shan language.

Karen Languages

The Karen languages are a group of tonal languages spoken by the Karen people of Myanmar. The language is classified into three primary branches, namely the Pwo, Sqaw, and the Pa'o. The languages are written using the Burmese script.


A significant number of people of the Kachin State of Burma speak the Kachin or Jingpho language, a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family. About 900,000 ethnic Kachins speak the Kachin language in Burma.


The Mon language, an Austroasiatic language, is spoken by about 750,000 Mon people living in Myanmar. Not all Mon people in the country speak this language since a significant section of the Mon population here are monolingual in Burmese. Most of the Mon speakers in Myanmar live in the Mon State of the country. The Katyin State and the Tanintharyi Region also has significant Mon speaking populations.

Several other minority languages are spoken by the various ethnic communities living in Myanmar.

Foreign Languages Spoken In Myanmar

English is an important foreign language whose study is highly promoted in Myanmar. Although Burmese is used as the primary language of instruction in schools across the country, English is taught as a secondary language. For a period in the past (from the end of the 19th century to 1964), English was taught as used as the primary language of instruction in the nation's educational institutes.


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