Mandarin is officially recognized by the Republic of China as the national language and is spoken by the vast majority of residents. About 70% of the people in Taiwan belong to the Hoklo ethnic group and speak both Taiwanese (a variant of Min Nan), as their mother tongue, and Mandarin. Mandarin has been the primary language of instruction in schools since the Japanese were forced out in the 1940s. The Hakka ethnic group, comprising around 15% of the population, use the Hakka language. Taiwan's aboriginal minority groups mostly speak their own native languages, although most also speak Mandarin. The aboriginal languages do not belong to the Chinese or Sino-Tibetan language family, but rather to the Austronesian language family.
Although Mandarin is the language of instruction in schools and dominates television and radio, non-Mandarin languages or dialects have undergone a revival in public life in Taiwan, particularly since the 1990s after restrictions on their use were lifted. A large proportion of the population can speak Taiwanese, and many others have some degree of understanding. People educated during the period of Japanese rule (1895–1945) were taught using Japanese as the medium of instruction. A declining number of persons in the older generations only speak the Japanese they learned in school and the Taiwanese they spoke at home and understand little or no Mandarin.
English is a common second language, with some large private schools providing English instruction. English is compulsory in students' curriculum once they enter elementary school. English as a school subject is also featured on Taiwan's education exams.