Since moving here, many of my friends have admitted that only now [that they know somebody here] will they feel comfortable visiting Montréal.
Why the hesitation? Because of their lack of French. I do confess that I had such apprehensions myself before moving here.
It is very true that the Province of Québec is predominantly French-speaking. I've been told that in some smaller towns, nobody speaks a word of English.
But this is certainly not true in Montréal. Many people here are fluently bilingual and often speak 3 or more languages!
The key to enjoying yourself here is to try to converse in French, at least a little about. Even just saying the following will make a good impression: "Bonjour. Je ne parle pas francais. Parlez-vous anglais?" - - which means: "Hello. I don't speak French. Do you speak English?" And if you're more comfortable in the language then by all means try to converse more en francais!
Arrêt Or Stop? Why, BOTH Of Course! ;-)
Unless you are a long-time resident, the politics of language should be avoided at all costs. Don't even ask - trust me.
Montreal is a cosmopolitan city, her strength lies in her diverse ethnicities, neighbourhoods, culture, restaurants, etc; but Quebec' provincial language laws make it all but impossible to post outdoor signs in languages other than French. However in certain areas of Montreal - particularly in the downtown area (where most travellers and tourists go), you will certainly see signs and advertisements in English, and bilingual services are widely available.
You will find the locals are likely to converse in either French or English, and just as comfortable switching back and forth between the two languages. In fact, walk along the Main (St. Laurent Blvd) and you'll hear at least 35 languages spoken. To be sure, you will occasionally run into a surly metro ticket-booth worker who may resent being spoken to in English (I've had this happen to me on occasion), but on the whole Montrealers are justifiably proud of their bilingualism.
Europeans will have no problem fraternizing, Americans might want to perhaps familiarize themselves with a few basic French words and phrases just to acquaint themselves with the local lingo.
Luc-Normand Tellier, author of the book "VIVE MONTREAL LIBRE!" suggests that the greatest asset of the city is its bilingualism. He couldn't be more right!! Montreal has so much to offer! So, as they say here Bienvenue au Montréal! relax, have fun, and enjoy l'esprit de Montreal!!
If you intend to visit the city of Montreal or the whole province of Quebec, you must already know that the official language is French; allthough you'll be able to get service in English, Montrealers always apreciate the efforts tourists make to ask or answer in French. So just to be nice and make you stay even more pleasant try to remember a few of these words:
Hello - Bonjour
Good evening - Bonsoir
Goodbye - Au revoir
Please - S'il vous-plait
Thank you - Merci
You're welcome - Je vous en pris
How much? - Combien?
Where is... ? - Où se trouve... ?
How can I get to... ? - Comment puis-je me rendre à... ?
What time is it? - Quelle heure est-il?
Do you have change? - Avez-vous de la monnaie?
Do you take credit cards? - Acceptez-vous les cartes de crédit?
The Forecast - La Météo
One - Un (on)
Two - Deux (de)
Three - Trois (trooah)
Four - Quatre (catr)
Five - Cinq (sank)
Six - Six (seess)
Seven - Sept (set)
Eight - Huit (ooeet)
Nine - Neuf (nef)
Ten - Dix (deess)
Fondest memory: For those who understand both French and English, here are a couple of little anecdotes which happened to an aunt of mine, while she was touring the States with her indelible French Quebecer's accent.
She pulled up in a station to get gas for her car and said to the helping man when lowering her window: "Fill me up, please!" ...Another time she was ordering breakfast in a greasy spoon, when she thought about letting the waitress know how she wanted her eggs, and said: Two eggs don't pète the yellows!" I almost peed on myself when my cousin told me about those funnies!
Bonjour (bone zhuu) - hello, good day
S'il vous plait (see vuu play) - please
Merci (Mare-see) - thank you
Is - est (ay)
Where - ou (oow) est...?
When - quand (kond)
How much - combien (kom byen)
Bathroom - la toilette (twa let)
Left - Gauche (goshe)
Right - Droit (draw)
Water - de l'eau (der low)
Chicken - poulet
Beef - boeuf
Fish - poisson
Seafood - fruits de mer ('fruits of the sea' - cute)
Lamb - Agneau
Pain (pan) - bread
Petit dejeuner - breakfast
Dejeuner - lunch
Souper - Dinner
5 a 7 (cinq a sept) - happy hour
1 - un
2 - duex (doo)
3 - trois (twaa)
4 - quatre (cat)
5 - cinq (sank)
6 - six (seece)
7 - sept (set)
8 - huit (weet)
9 - neuf (noof)
10 - dix (dees)
How to order off a numbered menu and sound like you know what you're doing -
'I would like number 5, please'
= 'Je voudrais numero cinq (5), s'il vous plait' pronounced 'zhe vuu dray noo-mero sank, see vuu play'
study english at La Salle college... hahaha!
this school was the first and the last institute where i studied english in montreal for 5 months...
when i dropped by the mizba, oversea education agency to pick up some info on ESL course in canada, an agent appealled me saying that montreal has relatively less korean students, and La Salle has one of greatest programme there... well, i had a little bit of doubt, though, i gave it a shot and really i had no korean classmates at least in the same classroom while studying there...on the other hand, if you study toronto, or vancouber expecting not many koreans--- uh-hah!!
First of all, you have to know that Montreal is one of the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Being the only big french city in the huge english north american world made it a world of contrast, difference and tolerance.
Fondest memory: The city is divided (East/West) from a street call St-Laurent. The english community of the big island lives in the west part and the east part is where you'll find the french people along with there culture. Of course these are not political frontier... I personnaly lived in the english section even if I'm french... but it's the reality.
Dont worry about the french/english element, most montrealers speak both.
As for those who dont you will manage using a few wrds of english and most
importantly like anywhere else where language is an issue, use your hands (it
takes time but it wrks and most people have fun doing it)
Basic french will get you by with no problems, there are always those that dont want to understand, they probably have nothing interesting to say anyways (i call them ignorant) and you will (i promise u)
find someone who does not too far away.
The trick is not to be feel silly, HAVE FUN!
This is where you will hear French and English being spoken at the same time. Montreal is very European and the old part is breathtaking! There is always a festival going on so you're guaranteed never to be bored.
Fondest memory: When I'm away from Montreal, I miss the party atmosphere. And the french!