Language-related questions for new and ongoing surveys

If aid organizations are to communicate effectively with the people they aim to help, in the languages they are most comfortable with, they need to know what those languages are. Existing language data is often outdated and does not necessarily reflect large-scale population movements. We have successfully worked with partners like IOM DTM, REACH and UNICEF to integrate standard language questions into ongoing surveys.

We recommend including the following standard questions in any survey. These have been carefully developed and tested in several languages and contexts to make sure they obtain relevant answers. However, we recommend that you test your survey instrument with a small sample, in line with good data collection practices.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know at

Recommended questions

Use these questions if you can include only a single language question in your survey
Use these questions if you can include up to four language questions in your survey  

Question bank

Downloadable XLS form files containing recommended language-related questions and choices formatted for ODK or Kobo Toolbox and in multiple languages. These questions are also available as a ‘Public Collection’ on Kobo Toolbox here (requires Kobo login), from where they can be directly added to Kobo forms.
All recommended questions, multiple languages*
*Translations for some questions and choices are not available in all languages, but we are continually updating these – check back here for updates or get in touch to request new translations. 
Response specific recommended questions and languages
Türkiye/Syria Earthquake 2023
Ukraine 2022
Pakistan Floods 2022
Languages by country
Answer choices of various languages are provided in the downloads above, including choices relevant to specific contexts. The file below provides a more complete list of languages by country for use as answer choices or for other purposes.