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Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?


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Old 10-24-2008, 07:33 AM
Vito Vito is offline
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Default Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?

I have had an interest in visiting Montreal and Quebec for some time, but the one time I traveled to Canada, I chose Toronto. Because I have read and heard many times that if one does not speak French in Quebec, one is ignored if not treated rudely.

If I want to travel somewhere I will go no matter what, but if I'm taking a vacation, I want to relax and not feel unwelcome too! I could take a tour with an English speaking guide, I know, but I prefer to travel independently if possible.

I would do my best to speak some French, but, honestly, I will not be fluent anytime soon!

So is this misinformation I have, or should I plan a nice trip back to Toronto? Merci!
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:33 AM
gonorth gonorth is offline
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Default Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?

While you may run into some negatives speaking English in the province of Quebec, it will mainly be in the more remote areas. In a city like Montreal, a large percentage of the population speaks English and they are quite used to tourists and visitors. Even in Quebec City, which is much more French, there is a large tourist area where it is quite common to hear English spoken. So if you are visiting the cities, you should be able to manage and I doubt you will be treated rudely.

In terms of trying out your French, there is a cultural difference and french-Canadians find it polite to correct someone's speech. In English, we see it a bit more rude to have someone correct you while you are trying to communicate - but that is actually a cultural difference rather than anything they mean as a criticism. So don't get discouraged if you get corrected!

Being treated rudely for speaking English is something that you experience more when you live there. They are very forgiving of English tourists but much less so of English residents.

This year they are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Quebec City so it is a great time to go.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:33 AM
news news is offline
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Default Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?

You should have no problem finding people that speak English. For sure at hotels the people should be able to speak English or they will find you an employee that does speak English.

There is a possibility that you could run into people that do not speak English. Maybe at the local corner store (call Depaneurs here in Montreal), but often someone within the store would likely speak English and would likely offer some help.

Places to see in Montreal. The "old port" which is an older section of Montreal by the waterfront.

Best bars and many restaurants on the following three streets. Crescent street, Bishop street, St.Denis street (Crescent is a hot spot)

There are many shopping plazas, Ste Catherines street (Many underground shopping malls off Ste Catherines street)

Lots of museums. Bio Dome (shows the four seasons in an indoor exhibit, animals, tropical) http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/biodome/site/site.php?langue=en

Montréal Botanical Gardens
http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin/en/propos/calendrier.htm

Magic of Lanterns at Montréal Botanical Gardens
http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin/en/propos/lanternes.htm

http://www.montreal.com/

Note, all the information above is on Montreal.
All the best on your journey to Montreal or Quebec City.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:33 AM
Teresa Teresa is offline
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Default Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?

Chick-a-dee is right on.

In Montreal there are probably more English-speakers than French-speakers now so you'll have no problem speaking English there, especially in the downtown area or any tourist places (museums, attractions, sightseeing spots, restaurants, etc.)

Quebec City is one of the most visited cities in Canada and their residents are more than used to having tourists around. It also boasts an English-speaking population of 20,000 people. Native French speakers are used to speaking English with tourists and will gladly speak to you in English (especially in the Old Town), so no worries there.

Trying out the little French you know will get you a LONG way. Quebecers appreciate it a lot when you try to speak their language, however bad your French may be, it doesn't matter. And as chick-a-dee said, if you get corrected (or if someone repeats after you with the correct form), don't take it the wrong way, it's not a sign of rudeness, they're actually trying to help you along.

So you won't get dirty looks, I promise.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:33 AM
Steve Steve is offline
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Default Montreal and Quebec: If I Don't Speak French, Should I Not Even Bother Going?

I learned my French at home (mon pere etant un << maudit francais >>) but I have been to Quebec many times, have also lived there. As long as you make an effort, people appreciate your effort. As others have said, in Montreal there are people who have survived without learning French, but they limit their options. Outside of Montreal, many have learned English, but if they don't often have a chance to practise, it may be a bit rusty. (like the French skills of most Anglophone Canadians or the Spanish skills of most Americans)

And do bring a good dictionary, even if it's just to verify a word or point to the phrase in the other language when needed.
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