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Traveling to Montreal & Quebec City - will my "intermediate" attempts at French be welcome?

Traveling to Montreal & Quebec City - will my "intermediate" attempts at French be welcome?

Old Feb 15th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Traveling to Montreal & Quebec City - will my "intermediate" attempts at French be welcome?

My girlfriend and I WANT to practice our French. Will our attempts be welcomed or will folks switch to English the minute they hear our "American" accents? This is not a troll question, I'd really like to hear from the bi-linguals out there...
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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My observation is that any attempt at communicating in French is appreciated by french-speaking Quebecs.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Your attempts will be appreciated, but, yes, they will switch to English, if they have any capability in that language. I suggest you continue to speak French, they will continue to speak English, and everyone improves their second language capabilities.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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In Montréal, you're likely to get a reply in English, but in Québec City, you'll usually be answered in French. In either case, you will be made welcome, but MOntréal is such a bilingual city that this is normal. Don't let this stop you from practicing your French, however.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Depending upon where you are, the French might be very necessary. It will beat sign language.

I am not bi-lingual, but in Quebec I used what little French I know.

The funniest incident was when we wanted ice cubes when driving the Gaspé. I did not know the right word. Recalling that we had bought a bag of ice labelled in English and French when we entered Quebec, I ran back to my car, opened the ice chest, and drug out this dripping bag of water, identified the magic word of glacé, jotted it down, and went back in. Bingo, we had ice -- in a block.

If you drive to Chicoutimi, I know you will be able to practice your French because we had a hard time communicating up there in English. In fact, I would say we did not communicate.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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Hi,

I contend that a person could do the usual tourist routine in Montreal without knowing a hint of french. (**provided you can deduce through other means what the 8-sided red sign on the side of the road means, etc.)

In Quebec City, a favorite conversation was with a young woman of 19-ish who was running a souvenir stand at a venue, and she was very thankful to have a chance to practice "conversational-english" (outside of a classroom).

I don't speak any french at all and was not troubled to any great deal even in Q.C. I understand that if I went to the smaller and more remote towns that I would have struggled at times.

LOL - I did find a pizza place where the worker didn't speak a word of english and I didn't speak a word of french, and managed to work-out and communicate what I wanted.

Don't hesitate to show up as you are and negotiate socially for just the conversations you hope to find. And lay your cards on the table, too, rather than think you need to bluff your way to the french chat that you'd like.

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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Bonsoir Merrittm,
I am a French-Canadian and I can assure you that we just adore when tourists make the effort to speak our language. When people switch to English just said "j'aimerais pratiquer mon français, s'il vous plait" and they will be please to oblige. Bon voyage.
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Old Feb 15th, 2006, 08:34 PM
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I am an English Quebecer living in Montreal and agree that if there is any hint that you are not a French speaker, the person you are talking to will speak in English if they can. Although I sometimes instinctingly find this to be rude, I doubt that it is. This does not mean that everyone in Montreal speaks English. The most trouble I have had vis a vis this situation are the Montreal Bus drivers and the Metro attendants and they can be some of the most horribly arrogant folks out there at times and refuse to speak to you in English, even if they understand it. Aside from this, you probably will have no trouble. Bienvenue a Montreal!
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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Thanks, folks. We are looking forward to our trip this July and have most of it booked! Montreal, Laurentides, Quebec City and a few side trips, all with much help form the Fodor's Canadian contingent. Thanks, again. I'll bet my next questions will be about restaurants!
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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LOL - I went to Sherbrooke, and to the McDonald's there for breakfast... and I began with "do you speak english", to which she said "yes"...

Then I tried to order a couple of McMuffin's and some O.J.... and got what I thought was the end of my order, and then sat down.

Then a young french woman came and forced-out, in struggling english:

"you forgot your-r-r-r-r-r hash BROWNS"

I really do think they enjoy the necessity of having to practice english in conversation... especially those of secondary-school age.
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 07:39 AM
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I am in the EXACT same boat! My fiancee and I are traveling to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City in June. We both had french in high school but I am all gung ho on practicing it now before our trip. I want to be able to speak french without having to look to a book or guide. If you haven't already, I suggest you book hotels through hotwire - I just got an unbelieveable rate at the omni mont-royal - and it was out of my price range otherwise! Good luck!!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 11:50 PM
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I found, on our first trip to Quebec, that all I had to say was Bonsoir as we walked into a shop or restaurant for dinner and I would get a response in French. Problem at that time was that was about all I knew
I think everyone, French or anything else, gets a kick out of a visitor trying to speak their language..it shows you care .
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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 05:17 PM
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I'm a bilingual (at a mediocre level) anglophone living near Ottawa. I spent 2 weeks in Quebec City several years ago on a "French Immersion" language course. We were supposed to think and speak French at all times, whatever the circumstances. This was a huge success - even to the point where, when I got accidentally locked in the bathroom of my hotel room in the Chateau Frontenac (don't ask!), I was yelling "Aidez moi, s'il vous plait!!!" through the walls, instead of "Help!!!"

All this ended when my husband came to visit for the weekend. Regardless of all my attempts to speak French, all responses were in English. I regard this as a very very gracious attempt of the people of QC to accommodate anglos (after hearing DH speak only English). Like Luckyluc suggested, I should have stood my ground and pointed out that "j'aimerais pratiquer mon francais, s'il vous plait".

I'm certain that most people in Quebec would be absolutely delighted to have you try to speak French and will do all they can to help - but you may have to insist as they will mostly want to graciously switch to English to help out.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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Hi Merrittm,

I think it's great that you and your girlfriend want to practice your French visiting Montreal & Quebec City.

As far as attempting French in Montreal is concerned, this is a city that defies binary thinking. Let's say you're at a restaurant and you practice your French with a waitress who you hear babbling with others in French and she switches to English on hearing your accent. She could A) Be a francophone wanting to accommodate you or wishing to practice B) Be a fluently bilingual anglophone who's just doing what comes naturally.... OR and this is something interesting about this city...C)unlike in say France where French is people's mother tongue, in Montreal, many Montrealers' mother tongue can't really be described as one or the other but BOTH English & French (if not a third & fourth language as well in the immigrant communities).

People of the A,B,C varieties, which is I would say much of the city, tend to size up & gravitate toward whichever language they think the person they're addressing is better in, almost instinctively. US citizen or French-speaking Belgian. Add to this bouillabaisse an occasional assertion of a French-speaking identity of the province or English-minority rights; the language interplay between people is quite fascinating.

Unilingual francophones will be more present around Quebec City, further east on Montreal Island, as well as further north & on the South shore, but in touristy areas you won't interact with so many.

Mais comme Luc a mentionné, généralement les gens ici (à part les anglophones unilingues) vont vous accommoder si vous leur dites que "j'aimerais bien pratiquer mon francais". Even bilingual anglos like myself .

Bienvenu au Québec! DAN


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Old Mar 5th, 2006, 06:00 PM
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When I studied French in Quebec City this summer, some people spoke English to me, but sometimes I just explained that I was a student, and I wanted to practice my French. Then, not only did they speak French to me, they also helped me and offered help when needed.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 10:23 AM
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Lovely replies all and thank you for all your help.

We have booked all lodging except in the Laurentides. We are still looking for a "girlie spa" by a lake. We want to walk in nature, kayak on a lake and indulge ourselves in a 1/2 day of spa stuff.

Does anyone have any direct experience with spas or spa/resorts in this area?
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 07:02 PM
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http://www.hotelquintessence.com/

here's the website to a fantastic hotel and spa, close to the village of Tremblant.
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