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Did you know that there are almost 8 million French speakers in Canada? Although approximately 85% of them live in Quebec, there are over a million who reside in other parts of the country, which means if you live in Canada, you probably come into contact with the language on a daily basis. As you can imagine, being able to communicate fluently in both official languages will open many doors for you, regardless of where in Canada you live. To start with, you’ll get a lot more job offers, especially if you’re interested in working for the government since as you’re probably aware, most of these positions require you to be bilingual. On top of this, you’ll gain the freedom of living in any part of the country that you want, as you’ll stop being restricted by language and cultural barriers, so if you’ve been thinking about relocating to Montreal or Quebec City, studying French is one of the smartest things you can do this year. Lastly, once you can speak French confidently, your social life will expand, as you’ll get to meet amazing people not only from Canada but also many members of the foreign-born community that prefer speaking French to English.
Although fluency won’t happen overnight, the faster you start learning French, the better. To help you achieve your language goals, here’s a detailed guide to how to learn French that will save you time and give you all the tips you need to know to become bilingual as soon as possible.
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1. Why Learn French?
Knowing about some of the most important reasons why you should start learning French this year will provide you with the necessary motivation to make your first steps in your journey to fluency, so let’s take a look at them.
To Boost Your Career
Learning French can have a big impact on your career, especially if you work for a government agency or are planning to apply for a job in one soon, as French language skills are often required for government positions, particularly in federal departments. The same applies if you want to land a corporate job, as most Canadian companies prefer bilingual applicants to monolingual ones, and on top of that, studies have shown that Canadians who are fluent in both official languages earn more money than those who only speak French or English, even if they don’t have to speak both languages in the workplace, so if you want to have a more competitive salary, learning French is definitely a smart move. Another big reason why you should consider becoming bilingual is if you want to work in Quebec since, according to the 2016 census, 95% of people there speak French at work, so if you want to land a well-paid job in the province, you should learn how to communicate fluently.
To Communicate with All Canadians
As you probably know, for 22% of Canadians, French is their native language, and although most of them live in Quebec, there are many francophone communities throughout the country. This means once you can speak French fluently, you’ll be able to get closer to a large sector of the population no matter where you are in the country, as well as participate in local cultural events that celebrate Québécois. In addition to this, learning French will help you embrace the multiculturalism that exists in Canada, as it will allow you to get to know many of the foreign-born people that came from countries like Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and of course, France, get to know their traditions and appreciate their unique contribution to Canadian society.Learn French With our Native Tutors
To Access Higher Education
Although speaking French is not necessary to study at university in provinces like Alberta or Ontario, it is if you’re planning at studying in Quebec. As you probably know, some of the country’s top universities are there, like McGill University, the University of Montreal, and Laval University, so if you want to become a student there, you’ll need to master the language first, as most classes are dictated in French. Fortunately, there’s no need for you to work on your language skills alone, as at LanguageTrainers we offer special lessons for learners that want to learn French for academic purposes. All you have to do to find out more more is contact us and one of our team members will answer all your questions about our courses.
Need some extra reasons to learn French? If so, you should read Why Learn French in Canada? 6 Important Reasons.
”I would highly recommend Language Trainers to anyone wanting to learn another language. They are extremely professional and have lived up to everything they promised. I am especially satisfied with my instructor. She is a native French speaker, very knowledgeable, and a pleasure to work with. I look forward to my lesson each week.”
Cathy Tamraz - French course in New York
2. Tips To Learn French More Effectively
Now that you know many of the reasons why you should become bilingual this year, you probably can’t wait to start learning. However, before you do, here are some recommendations to learn French as effectively as possible.
Find a Language Trainer Who Speaks Québécois
The first thing you should do if you’re serious about becoming a proficient French speaker is to get a teacher who can help you reach your language goals. Although there are plenty of excellent French tutors out there, if your plan is to use your language skills in Canada, you should find a native trainer who speaks Québécois, as they’ll be able to teach you everything you need to know to communicate confidently with fellow Canadians. On top of that, getting the help of a language professional means you’ll have someone who can answer every single question you have on the French language, which will save you a lot of time you would otherwise spend googling them or trying to find good-quality resources at your local library. Additionally, a teacher will know exactly what you should focus on, and they’ll give you a lot of useful feedback that will help you avoid the most common mistakes, and work on those aspects of the French language that are the most challenging for you.
Want some help finding a teacher? Send us a quick inquiry now and we’ll find the perfect one just for you!
Learn New Words in Context
Instead of trying to memorize long lists of words, it’s much more effective to learn new vocabulary in context. This is done by exposing yourself as much as possible to the language, which means that if you want to expand your vocabulary, you should read and listen to French every day. In case you’re not convinced, here are some of the benefits of learning words in context.
- If you learn words by reading or listening to native speakers talk, with each new phrase or word you come across, you’ll have an example sentence that illustrates how it’s used. For example, it’s not the same to learn that the word ticket in French is billet, as hearing a native say the phrase “Je voudrais réserver un billet” which means “I’d like to reserve a ticket”.
- Another benefit of doing this is that studies have shown that the more information you have about a new word, the longer you’ll remember it, so if you want to avoid losing most of your French vocabulary after a few weeks, there’s no point in learning words in isolation.
- Immersing yourself in French will increase the chances of you learning useful idioms, which are groups of words that have a particular meaning that sometimes doesn’t make sense to people that don’t speak the language or even to people that speak the language but live in another county. To illustrate this, the Québécois idiom “Ça a pas d'allure” is used regularly in Canada to say that something doesn’t make sense, but if a French person hears it, they might think this idiom has something to do with style or elegance because of the word allure.
- Lastly, doing this will ensure you learn vocabulary in an active way. This means that if you’re reading a story or the news in French and you find a word or phrase you don’t understand that keeps you from getting the meaning of the text you’re reading, you’ll be forced to look it up, which will help you learn faster and remember words for a longer time.
Take Advantage of English-French Cognates
An easy way to expand your French vocabulary quickly is to take advantage of the many words that are spelled the same in English and French and have the same meaning. To help you start learning right now, here’s a list of some of the most useful cognates.
Although these words look the same, remember that their pronunciation is different, so if you’ve never heard a native say them, ask your teacher for some help.
Watch Out for False Cognates
Although there are thousands of words in French that you’ll understand easily due to the many English words that come from Latin, you should be careful with false cognates, which are words that look similar but have completely different meanings.
- The French word actuellement may look similar to the English word actually, but means now, at present.
- The French word blesser may look similar to the English word to bless, but means to wound or to injure.
- The French word brillant may look similar to the English word brilliant, but means bright or shiny.
- The French word caméra may look similar to the English word camera, but means video camera.
- The French word cave may look similar to the English word cave, but means cellar.
- The French word chair may look similar to the English word chair, but means flesh.
- The French word coin may look similar to the English word coin, but means corner.
- The French word choquer may look similar to the English word choke, but means to shock.
- The French word bras may look similar to the English word bra, but means arm.
- The French word attendre may look similar to the English word attend, but means to wait.
Use Language Apps in Your Free Time
In addition to learning French with a tutor, it’s important you use your free time wisely to keep improving your language skills. One way to do this is to use language apps, which will help you work on your vocabulary, basic grammar and listening skills while having fun, even if you only use them for a few minutes every day. Don’t know which one to use? Here are our top picks.
- Want to learn basic grammar and learn plenty of French words and phrases? If so, you have to try Memrise, an app specially designed to help you improve your language skills as fast as possible. As its name suggests, this app is ideal for those who want to memorize words in French and other languages fast, but its lessons also include grammar, pronunciation and listening exercises, so it has something for everyone.
- Another great choice is MosaLingua, an app which will help you learn high-frequency vocabulary and understand grammar naturally by observing how sentences are constructed. It offers many different courses that are divided by level, so you can use it no matter if you’re a complete beginner or an advanced student.
- Even if you’ve never studied a foreign language before, you probably know Duolingo, one of the most popular apps out there. The great thing about it is that it covers all the basics you need to learn and it makes learning feel like a game, so if you want to improve your skills and have fun in the process, this is definitely an app you should try.
- Lastly, if you enjoy making your own flashcards, or you want to find free decks made by other users, you should use Anki, an app that will save you a lot of time and help learn new vocabulary like a pro.
Immerse Yourself in Francophone Cultures
A great thing you can do from day one is to immerse yourself as much as possible in the cultures where French is spoken. If your idea is to use the language mainly in Canada, you can start by watching TV shows produced in Quebec like Faits Divers, Ruptures or Fugueuse, which will allow you to hear different people speaking Canadian French and pick up commonly used expressions. You could also hear local podcasts, such as 3 Bières, where three hosts talk about different topics submitted by listeners, or Capsule Linguistique, where Guy Bertrand talks about interesting aspects of the French language. On the other hand, if you are planning on speaking French abroad, you should also become familiar with other francophone cultures. To do this, you can explore the amazing selection of French movies and TV shows available on Netflix, or read newspapers like Le Parisien, Le Canard Enchaîné or Le Monde Diplomatique. In addition to this, if you want to watch videos made by native speakers, you can visit YouTube channels like Learn French with Vincent, JeFrench, FrenchPod101 or Coffee Break Languages.
Take Language Level Tests
Language level tests are an incredibly helpful tool you can use at different moments of your learning process, such as before you book a course to know what you need to work on or after a few months of learning with a teacher to measure your progress. If you want to know how good your French skills really are right now, you can take our FREE French Level Test on our website, which has 70 questions you can answer in just a few minutes, and once you do, you’ll get an instant e-mail with your score.
3. Differences between Standard French and Québécois
Although the French and the Canadians use the same standard French in writing, there are many differences between these two variants when it comes to vocabulary and pronunciation. In addition to having their own particular sayings and phrases, Canadians use many more anglicisms, which are words imported from English, and because the way they talk is heavily-influenced by the French spoken in Paris during the 17th and 18th centuries, they use certain words that can sound archaic to French people. Another big difference is that Québécois has many words that come from Amerindian languages, so for example, Canadians don’t call sandals “les sandals” like the French, they call them “les babiches”, a loanword derived from indigenous languages. On top of that, Canadian French sounds really different from European French, to the point that natives sometimes have a hard time understanding each other. The most common differences can be found in the way some vowels are pronounced, the intonation, and the manner in which Canadians pronounce consonants like “T” and “D” when they come before the vowels “U” or “I”, which end up sounding like “ts” and “dz”. So for example, if a Canadian says the word poutine, instead of pronouncing it as “pooteen” as a French person would, they say “pootsine”.
As previously stated, most differences between these two variants can be found in their vocabulary. To illustrate this, here are some of the most commonly used words that are said differently in Québécois and European French.
|Hot dog||Chien-chaud||Hot dog|
|To chat (online)||Clavardage||Tchat en ligne|
|Washing machine||Laveuse||Machine à laver|
|To chat or talk||Jaser||Bavarder|
Want to read more about the differences between European and Canadian French? Then take a look at What’s the Difference Between French and Canadian French? on our blog.
4. Tips to Improve Your French Accent
Mastering French pronunciation can be one of the most challenging aspects of learning the language. Although having a bit of an English accent while speaking French is usually not a problem, if you find that natives have a hard time understanding what you say, take a look at some of these tips to improve your pronunciation.
Remember French Is Not Phonetic
Although reading can be an invaluable tool to expand your vocabulary, you should always check how a word is pronounced before you attempt to say it. This is because as you probably know, French is not a phonetic language, which means you can’t really tell how a word is pronounced by just reading it. For example, you’ll soon find out that many consonants in French are completely silent, especially at the ending of certain words, so if you see words like parler, or others ending in letters b,c,f,k,l,q or r, you shouldn’t pronounce the last sound. To avoid mispronouncing a word, you’ll have to learn the many phonetic rules and their many exceptions, however, when you first start, you can simply look the words up in an online dictionary like Lexilogos and check their pronunciation.
Imitate Native Speakers and Record Yourself
If people tell you that you have a thick English accent and you want to sound more like a native, you should start imitating how francophone people speak. You can do this in your free time while you watch a film or listen to your favourite podcasts, the important thing is that you record yourself while you do it, so that you can then listen to yourself and compare the way you sound to the original recording. Doing this often is something that’s pretty easy to do, and it will completely change how you speak in the long run.
Talk to Natives Often
One of the smartest things you can do to boost your speaking skills is simply to talk to natives as often as possible. If you attend French lessons, you’ll get to have a ton of practice time every week, but if you want to sound like a pro you should expose yourself to as many speakers as you can. To do this, you should look for different language partners on websites like Interpals or MeetUp, where you can meet natives from all over the world for free.
5 tips to take your French accent to the next level.READ THE ARTICLE >
5 resources to improve your speaking skills from home.READ THE ARTICLE >
As you now know, speaking French will open up many amazing opportunities for you not only in Canada but all over the world. That’s why if you’re determined to reach all your language goals this year, you should book a course with us at Language Trainers! To start, simply contact us, and one of our representatives will get back to you as soon as possible with a course plan and competitive prices!Improve your accent with our native tutors
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