What Languages Are Spoken In Nigeria?

English is the official language of Nigeria.
English is the official language of Nigeria.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with over 186 million residents. The country is also home to more than 520 languages, but there are many more languages which are yet to be classified. These languages can be classified into two main language families: the Afro-Asiatic language family and the Niger-Congo language family. English is the official language of Nigeria.

Official Language Of Nigeria

English is the official language in Nigeria. The language is used for all formal communication in government and is also the language used in the drafting of legislations as well as in the Nigerian judicial system. English is also incorporated into the education system of Nigeria as the medium of instruction. The English language was introduced in Nigeria by the British when the country was under British colonial rule. However, the language is only predominantly used among the residents of the urban regions of the country.

Roughly 79 million Nigerians speak English, making Nigeria of the world's most populated Anglophone countries in the world. The English spoken in Nigeria is a unique known as Nigerian English. It takes a great inspiration from British English and, to a lesser extent, American English. There are a number of phrases and words that are exclusive to Nigerian English.

Regional Language Of Nigeria


Hausa is one of the regional languages used in Nigeria. The language is one of the largest in West Africa and it has an estimated 30 million native users while an additional 20 million people use the language as the second language. Hausa is a West Chadic language under the larger Chadic language group of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Hausa is made up of numerous geographically defined dialects, but only the Dauranchi and the Kananci dialects are recognized as the standard dialect of the language. The use of the language is also propagated by local media as well as international media such as Deutsche Welle, Voice of America as well The BBC. The Hausa language traditionally used the Arabic writing system, but in recent years the language has incorporated the use of the Latin alphabet.

The Hausa people are one of the largest ethnic groups found in Africa as well as Nigeria. The Hausa people make up around 25% of the population of Nigeria.


The Yoruba language is spoken by around 18.9 million Nigerians. It is the native language of the Yoruba people, a people native to West Africa. The Yoruba language is a member of the Niger-Congo family. Yoruba is a tonal language and comprises of three tones, namely high, mid, and low. Yoruba also features many loan words from Arabic.


Igbo is another regional language popularly used in Nigeria particularly in the southeastern region of the country. The language is categorized under the Volta-Niger language group which is under the larger Niger-Congo language family. Igbo is one of the most popular languages in Nigeria with an estimated 24 million native speakers, the majority of whom are members of the Igbo ethnic group. There are more than 20 dialects of the Igbo language, but the standardized Igbo is based on Umuahia and Owerri dialects.

Indigenous Languages of Nigeria

As Nigeria is home to a diverse number of ethnic groups, so it would make sense that there are a variety of indigenous languages spoken in the country as well. Nigeria is home to hundreds of indigenous languages. In recent years, the federal government has been making efforts to promote the use of indigenous languages, many of which are endangered. Some of the indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria include Tiv, Kanuri, and Fulfulde.

Sign Languages Of Nigeria

The Nigerian Sign Language is the official national sign language used by the deaf residents of Nigeria. The Nigerian Sign Language was introduced in 1960 by Andrew Foster, a 20th-century deaf missionary and is modeled from the American Sign Language. Nigerian Sign Language is also used in Chad and the Republic of Congo. The Hausa Sign Language is the other form of sign language used in Nigeria. The sign language is an indigenous form and is widely used by the deaf members of the Hausa ethnic group residing in the city of Kano. The number of users of the Hausa Sign Language is estimated to range from 70,000 people to about 5 million people in the country. The other form of sign language used in Nigeria is the Bura Sign Language which is also an indigenous form of sign language. Bura Sign Language is used by members of the Bura ethnic group who reside in Kukurpu region of the country.

Breakdown of Major Languages Spoken in Nigeria

5Other/Indigenous Languages N/A

More in Society