French as a Second Language

Stacy Dikareva

I find that learning French is pretty essential to life in Quebec, even if I don’t anticipate being here for the rest of my life. Though I’ve come to learn that anticipating anything out of life is a bit of a useless endeavour- it has this uncanny ability to throw all sorts of road blocks and diversion in your path, leading you in completely different directions than you could have ever imagined.  But back to my actual point….

French is an integral aspect to Quebec culture and history (whether the out-of-province Anglophones like it or not), so to me it feels natural to try and adapt to the way people do things in their home region, which includes learning the language.  Any globe-trotter would tell you that the best way to learn about people and their way of life is to get off the resort and actually spend some time living in your new city, town, village, etc. and try to navigate the social and physical spaces of your new environment. Not to mention, if you are ever in a position where you must find employment in Quebec, you will most certainly face the dreaded question all Anglophones fear the most: “Do you speak any French?” Well, of course I do, I can say “Est-ce que je peux aller au toilette s’il vous plait?” Ok, ok, we weren’t taught much French in high school out west (or I was a short-sighted teenager who didn’t think it was worth my attention). Therefore, this is my perfect opportunity to add it to my list of life skills now.

One of the best ways to pick up French (aside from hanging out with Francophones who insist you speak in French, like a good friend of
mine does), the Ministry of Education offers a wonderful French as a Second Language program. This program consists of Levels 1-8 where level 1-6 are intensely focused on developing speaking, reading and writing skills. Earlier levels are almost exclusively focused on generating basic conversation, and when no English is spoken by your teachers or classmates, with the  exception of a word or two for clarification for Anglophones, you pick up on it quite quickly. Level 7 and 8 are writing intensive that teach complicated tenses and grammatical rules (i.e. rules that will certainly make your brain hurt).

The only catch with this program is that because it is government subsidized, you must have a status (permanent resident, citizen, landed immigrant, etc.) of some sort in Canada (not specifically Quebec). So, it’s a great opportunity for many out of province students to quickly improve their French!

Bonne chance!

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