One of the first responses I'd hear after telling someone that I was moving to Montreal was, "Do you speak French?"
Being that I already knew a bit about Montreal through my daughter's experience there, and the fact that I understood French while I took it in elementary and secondary school and in university, I wasn't worried about the language. I'd pick it up soon enough, not that I'd need it just to live here.
To be honest, you don't need to know French to get by in Montreal.
Paige has lived and worked here for over a year and a half without using it for the most part, although she does have a basic knowledge of it. She took French Immersion for 8 years.
Westmount (where she works), Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (where we live) and the downtown core (where I worked) are all pretty much English speaking.
When I do speak French while running errands, what often happens is that the person automatically switches to English upon hearing my accent. It's hard to practice and improve your skills out in the real world - at least in the areas I've been to so far - but I assume the initial effort is appreciated.
Even some people who were born in Montreal do not speak French fluently. My neighbour who is in her 50s only learned French at 29 after living here all her life. So crazy!
But if you want more options in terms of employment, or if you want to live beyond the English speaking areas, or if you're like me and you want to reestablish your business in Quebec, the ability to converse in French is essential.
It's also a sign of respect towards your new city and province.
We should always make an effort no matter where we visit or live, to learn the language and the ways of the culture we find ourselves immersed in.
One more sleep until week 2 of French Immersion!
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