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Do They Speak English in Senegal?

Do They Speak English in Senegal

Key Takeaway Table

Information PointAnswer
Official LanguageWolof and French
Percentage speaking EnglishApprox. 15-20% (mostly basic to intermediate)
Main reasons for English fluencyEducation, tourism, business, and international relations
Areas with more English speakersUrban areas and tourist destinations

Introduction to Senegal’s Linguistic Landscape

Senegal, a vibrant country on the west coast of Africa, is known for its rich history, diverse cultures, and multilingual populace. When it comes to language, the Senegalese are certainly polyglots, with a multitude of languages spoken throughout the country. But where does English fit into this linguistic tapestry?

Official Languages of Senegal

The main languages spoken in Senegal are Wolof, which is the native language for the majority of Senegalese, and French, which is the official administrative language inherited from colonial times.

Table: Main Languages Spoken in Senegal

LanguagePercentage of Population
FrenchUsed officially and widely spoken by the educated populace

Prevalence of English in Senegal

So, where does English come into the picture? English isn’t a native language of Senegal, but it has grown in importance in recent years.

Reasons for the Growing Importance of English:

  1. Education: English is taught as a second language in schools. As Senegal integrates more with the global community, the demand for English proficiency among students and professionals has increased.
  2. Tourism: Senegal has a budding tourism sector. Tourists from English-speaking countries visit Senegal, making English a useful tool for those in the hospitality industry.
  3. Business and Trade: English is becoming a significant language for international business, especially as Senegal expands its trade partnerships outside of Francophone countries.
  4. Cultural Exchange: With the proliferation of the internet, English music, movies, and literature have become more accessible and popular among the Senegalese youth.

How Fluent are Senegalese in English?

When we talk about English proficiency in Senegal, it’s essential to understand that fluency levels vary. While many Senegalese may know some basic English phrases, especially those in the tourism industry, full fluency is less common.

Table: Levels of English Proficiency in Senegal

Level of ProficiencyEstimated Percentage of English Speakers

It’s worth noting that younger generations are showing a higher proficiency in English compared to older generations, thanks to updated school curriculums and globalized media.

Where in Senegal is English More Commonly Spoken?

Main Areas with a Higher Concentration of English Speakers:

  • Dakar: Being the capital city and a major urban center, Dakar has many schools, businesses, and tourist attractions where English is spoken.
  • Tourist Destinations: Areas like Saint-Louis, Gorée Island, and Saly Portudal see a good number of English-speaking tourists, so locals often learn English to cater to these visitors.
  • Universities: Institutions like Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar offer courses in English, attracting international students and fostering an environment where English is spoken.


To answer the initial question: Yes, English is spoken in Senegal, but it’s not as prevalent as Wolof or French. If you’re an English speaker traveling to Senegal, it would be beneficial to learn some basic French or Wolof phrases. However, in urban areas and tourist hotspots, you’ll likely encounter individuals with a decent grasp of English.

As Senegal continues to grow and integrate with the global community, the importance and prevalence of English are likely to increase. This linguistic evolution is a testament to Senegal’s dynamic nature and its adaptability in an ever-globalizing world.