What Percentage of Hong Kong Speaks English?

Hong Kong is a vibrant city known for its blend of Eastern and Western cultures. One of the critical aspects of this cultural amalgamation is the prevalence of English, a remnant of its colonial past. But how many people in Hong Kong actually speak English today? Let's dive into the details.

The Bilingual Landscape of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is officially bilingual. Both Chinese (Cantonese) and English are the official languages, with Cantonese being the most widely spoken. According to the 2021 Census, approximately 53.2% of the population aged 5 and above can speak English. This figure represents around 3.94 million people. While this doesn't mean they are all fluent, it indicates a substantial portion of the population has at least some proficiency in English.

English Proficiency Levels

English proficiency in Hong Kong varies significantly. According to the English Proficiency Index (EPI) by Education First (EF), Hong Kong ranked 33rd out of 100 countries in 2020, indicating a high proficiency level compared to other non-native English-speaking regions. However, this ranking also reflects the disparity in proficiency levels among different demographics.

  • Young Professionals: Among young professionals and students, English proficiency is generally higher. This group often uses English in academic and professional settings. Schools in Hong Kong, especially international and private institutions, place a strong emphasis on English education.
  • Older Generations: The older generation, particularly those who grew up before the 1980s, tend to have lower English proficiency. This is partly due to changes in the education system over time and the increased emphasis on English in recent decades.

Usage in Daily Life

English is widely used in business, tourism, and certain social settings. It is the dominant language in legal, governmental, and professional domains. Signage, public transportation announcements, and official documents are typically bilingual. In the business sector, English is the lingua franca, particularly in international companies and industries such as finance and trade.

Education and English

Education plays a significant role in the prevalence of English. Schools in Hong Kong, from primary to tertiary levels, often use English as the medium of instruction, particularly in subjects like science and mathematics. Institutions like the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) conduct many of their courses in English, attracting international students and faculty, which further entrenches the use of English in academia. The hkust acceptance rate is a critical piece of information for prospective students looking to join this prestigious institution.

The Influence of International Presence

Hong Kong's status as a global financial hub means it attracts expatriates from all over the world. This international presence ensures that English remains a crucial part of daily life. Areas like Central, Wan Chai, and Tsim Sha Tsui have high concentrations of expatriates and tourists, making English the primary mode of communication in these districts.


The percentage of people in Hong Kong who speak English is substantial, reflecting the city's unique blend of cultures and its historical ties to the English-speaking world. While proficiency levels vary, English remains a critical component of Hong Kong's identity, especially in education, business, and international relations.

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