Ok, this one I’m gonna shoot straight to you from my own walk of life.If you’re planning to live, work and have fun in this glorious town of mine, make sure you starting thinking of means to learn the language and I’ll explain why.I grew up between the islands of Montreal and Laval, moving in Canada at age 6.
As an immigrant settling with my family right before the 90’s when the U.S.S.R. was collapsing.So now that I gave you my background, I can’t hide the fact that luck literally stuck me like a lightning.I went to French school and began learning the language from elementary all the way to private college.
Throughout this journey, I’ve made many friends, both Canadians from descendants of colonials, but Native Canadians (First Nations) as well and of course, almost any other nationality you can think of.The point I’m trying to make is that Montreal’s multiethnic identity is here to stay forever and you’re going to miss on a lot of fun conversations, life experiences, cultural exchange practices and many other things if you decide to strictly stick with English.The short answer would be YES, you can live in MTL by only speaking English.
But you better be prepared (unfortunately) to face situations that may leave you feeling salty.This never-ending language brawl between French and English has been going on since the Renaissance days.I can almost guarantee you that you’re going to come in contact with cases where a teller working in a small boutique, for instance, will insist to serve you only in French and except you to respond only in that language also.
Let me go further than that lol, there are numerous separatists (Quebecers mainly) who will give you a hard time.For nothing.Bottom line is, French will become inevitable in your daily life.
I wish I could allow you to feel this great superpower I have within of speaking Franglais or Frenglish, a salad chop style of mixing these 2 languages together within your speech.One can literally start a sentence in English, after finish what’s left after the comma in French.Not to mention the inside jokes, cultural references, sayings, proverbs and whatnot involved within.
To sum it all up, I suggest you learn the language at your pace without wanting to become a writer someday.Just enough so you can understand what’s being spoken around you.And avoid awkward moments from time to time.
Yes, it is truly limiting, and I struggled a lot the first couple years I was here.But after somewhat mastering my French to the level where I was hired as a bilingual working in both languages, it has expanded my horizons, but it was a ‘forced expansion.’For basic survival, French is necessary.
But I don’t feel it has enhanced my life.Many bilingual jobs are paid the same as English only ones.At work I am required to say hi to my colleagues ‘Hello’ and ‘Bonjour’ as a little fun addition, but that’s it.
My French is not perfect so I force my co-workers to always speak in English with me.I am not ashamed of doing that either, hehe.I use 100% English in the depanneur and when I am at the hospital, bank, the government, and of course at the bar and restaurants.
I don’t see any problem.Every opportunity I get to not speak French, I will.In fact, in Montreal, I use English a lot to get around.
The only time I use French is at work, and to speak with my French boyfriend.But all my friends in Montreal are English speaking (my choice).I might like to meet one French person as a friend from time to time, or date French people that I connect with, but I have next to 0% interest in going to an all-French party, or the worst, going to a French family BBQ function with all their gossips and materialistic conversations.
It is a teeth-pulling, eye-rolling experience.I use to be interested in the French language, but the Montreal version of my French immersion experience here – was the ‘Paris Effect’ for me unfortunately.I just became disenchanted with the language after a number of years.
There is constant ‘chialage’ in Montreal.The vulgar words bother me, and if there is an English equivalent, I am not used to hearing ‘F-you’ this many times out on the Montreal streets every day.There is a ‘complaining’ melody to the language that I will just never instill in my vocabulary because I find it uneducated, so I choose not to embrace always speaking French, and resort to my English thoughts most of the time.
Working in French client service like myself too will change your perception of working in the French language.Let’s just say the word rude comes to my mind.However, it is important to learn French in Montreal to defend yourself in French, or at least know the gravity of the situation when somebody is yelling at you or snickering.
This is more of a street life thing, because people pop off verbally in this city like a hair trigger, even when you haven’t done anything wrong.There are some that are permanently ‘en crisse’ ou ‘en tabernak.’Some of the old ladies in the supermarkets and on the local bus routes are willing to ‘fight’ you, so you need at least to know enough French to say: ‘Pas de tout, madame.
Prenez-vous soin de votre tete.Vous avez ben des problemes pyschologique ma grosse b…’.And at other times, conversing in French can be rather simplistic and does not speak to my intellect.
They are not the more philosophical and analytical conversations I can have in English – so for that reason, if you are not speaking French in Montreal, you are not missing a lot in terms of ‘enlightenment.’This might be different maybe in France, where there is more national consciousness, open talk about politics and current events – so I might have learned something new in a new language if I lived there – but in Montreal, there is not much new culturally or socially I’ve learned to be quite honest now that I speak French.Although I can’t live without it, and it was awful being on that other side of the fence wanting desperately to learn it – once I did, it quickly became blah to me.
I used to tune into Radio Canada and watch shows on TVA to improve my French, now I just turn them off.This type of programing is just silly, and what they were talking about didn’t appeal to me.I rather watch Ellen.
Learning French is a challenging, and I don’t think anybody should be too guilted or shamed for not speaking it but still live in Montreal.I learned it, but it is not my identity.
I attended Concordia University in Montreal.It is one of the colleges in Quebec that offers course in English instead of French.Lots of the foreign students attending Concordia and McGill, another English university, do not know French at all before coming to the city, and learn very little French, if at all, after 4 to 5 years of college life.
If one only wishes to finish a bachelor degree in Montreal, and only live, eat, have fun, find part time jobs in the city center area of Montreal near Concordia and McGill, speaking no French does not bring difficulty to the life.People in city center speak very good English, there is no linguistic obstacle when you visit restaurant, shops, banks, public service and many more.Public signs are all written in both French and English, and people are willing to explain things written only in French to you in English.
When you get further away from city center, less and less people speak English.Even if local does speak English, they speak with heavy French accents.Sometimes, people outside the city center refuse to speak English as a way to defend their pride in Francophone culture, and they will get really annoyed if you keep trying English conversation with them.
If you wish to live for long, find a job, travel far and attend a graduate program in Montreal, you MUST LEARN French.It is a must, not recommendation, as most of the useful information in the city is communicated only in French, not being able to speak French means you will miss out lots of goodies.In the third and forth year of my uni, we are required to study the history of urban planning in Montreal, and the essay and documents on the topic were exclusively French.
I signed up for an intern program near La Chute after the graduation, and although the research program itself specifically pointed out we only needed to write report in English, in reality we had to talk to local rangers and farmer day to day, and of course they spoke only French.It is still possible to find jobs in Montreal without French, especially in engineer and IT, but one will find most of the colleges in office communicated in French.Not speaking French will make you feel isolated from all the key conversations .
Want to watch Sci Fi and action movie on cheap public TV channels, they are all in French.Wanting to buy or rent a property somewhere outside city center, the agents and landlords speak French.Buying a car, dealers speak French; Learning to drive car, coaches speak French.
Going to a hockey match with your friends, everyone around speak only French.I have never attended a French class to systematically learn the language, but years of immersion made me somehow able to read French and speak the most basic one, and then the atmosphere of my life really expanded a lot.I am able to ask for tricks people previously did not wish to or unable to show me in English, I can understand the joke my local friend made, something I had no idea at all before.
Like most people said, Western part of city and more of west island is more English in terms of living.Work totally depends upon how you got here.I was recruited from over seas, know zero french and work in IT.
My job requires English and no body speaks french at work.However, we might have difficulty over the phone and stores at times when we try to speak to random people you interact with in every day life.One thing i see missing in other answers, even those who do speak English, most of them just get along with average English.
Apart from work and well educated people i talk to, every one starts apologizing for their English with in the first one minute of conversation (nice courtesy though) or asks me to speak slowly.Coming from a 3rd world country, i am happy to learn french or my kids learning that.But i was amazed to discover that if my kids go to school here, they have to take french and my elder one (8 ish) might have to take English as a subject in his university to be proficient with that.
Where as he currently is pretty fluent in English from his few years of private schooling in a 3rd world country.This was a culture shock.I was expecting most of the people to have better English than mine here – which is not the case, even in Montreal.
A side note, your kids can only go to public English school if you are an anglophone or if your status is for e.g.a temp worker or something.If you are PR you have to send them to French school.
Lastly, by the way, the English school still often means 50-50 English and french.The least i could find was 68-32 (English – French).So they pretty much ensure that if a kid is brought up here, his main stream language becomes french.
I lived in Montreal from 2001 to 2008 and had a couple of different apartments around the city, in Verdun and in Plateau (where I was for 75% of my time there).I agree with Haig that it is not compulsory to know french to live there but it will make your life easier.Montreal is a beautiful place with so many amazing things to see and do and experience.
I have made friends there that became family to me and in true montreal style – they were russian, brazilian, romanian, quebecois, italian and egyptian.Typical Montreal mix.The pubs and bars are great and the tiny little boutique restaurants are tucked into every little neighbourhood.
I had no problem with not speaking french but then again, i was born and raised in Canada where we always had some education in french, at least marginal enough to understand french.I am 5 generations Nova Scotian but felt an attraction to Montreal and so I took french classes and interacted when I could, in french but found it was rarely necessary.Here is the tough part.
Without fluent french, it is very difficult to find work.At least work that is anywhere near your expectations.It can actually be difficult to get anything decent if you are not Quebecois.
But not understanding french can leave you without quality work.Even if you start your own business, the laws in Quebec can be quite sporadic and change by the week.If you are ok with all of this, then Montreal can be amazing.
I have been living in Dubai now for 12 years, since I left Montreal so I really can draw some contrast because the Emiratis here are like the Quebecois.You don’t NEED to speak Arabic at all but the locals always get the high paying, quality roles.I am moving back to Canada and now my wife (that I met here) and I are trying to make the critical decision of where we will relocate when returning to Canada (she has never lived there but growing up in Dubai, she sounds like us)….Montreal was a thought but would not be so fun for her because she speaks no french and doubtful that she will make the effort to become fluent.
She loves Montreal dearly but she isnt a fan of the language (desolé).Good luck.
Hopefully you will read all the answers that people have provided so far, because you will get a true sense of the experiences of people who have come here not speaking it.I’ve read them all and I can add little more than what they have written.If you don’t intend to learn French, you may survive if you live in the right area and neighbourhood in the West End, like many mentioned.
I know families who have managed that but they did not benefit from all the city has to offer and dealing with officials can be a problem in some cases.Read Natalie Chickee comments.I was raised speaking both languages, but merely having an English name at times made it difficult when I was a child and young teen.
Keep in mind there are locals who resent foreigners and they can be mean.I had an easier time when I worked in Puerto Rico and was learning Spanish than many trying to learn French here.If you do intend to learn the language, by all means take courses.
There are numerous institution who cater to immigrants.I chose to live here when I retired, even if all my family members are in the US.I made friends here who now are my family and I convinced my girlfriend to learn French and now she is thrilled she did and she will be living here with me in a few weeks.
Keep in mind she speaks 5 languages so she did have an ability and a mindset for it.It’s a great place if you can speak French functionally, better if you get to talk with anyone.it’s not for everyone of course, my ex tried but it was too difficult for her to learn both English and French.
Living in Montreal and not speaking French can be just fine is you are living on the Westside of the City.I don’t recommend it.I moved into the French community, purposely because I wanted to learn French.
There are many people are the Eastside who speak little to no English, whatsoever!At first is was very challenging, sometimes I was marginalized and systematically oppressed, however I was determined to learn.I wouldn’t recomend someone moving into an allFrench community unless they are really passionate to want to the language.
French took me 3 years to be become bilingual.Now, I speak French all the time.However, I am still in the process and working on perfecting writing.
I feel like a whole new World has opened up for me, as of result I have friends I love so much, never would have access to them I didn’t know French.I learned new life philosophies and the French people have a totally different culture to explore!I understand how it is challenging for Anglos, looking for work can be hard, in service you need to speak French.
I’ve experienced anglophones in Montreal who never learned French and are not interested in learning and vis-versa French people being unilinguals, it’s unfortunate for them.They are limited to what they can access because of language barriers.
You can easily live in Montréal without speaking French.Enough businesses are bilingual and most people who grew up there in the last 50 years are bilingual.You can attend college at McGill or Concordia in English.
If you stay in the western part of town, especially Westmount, you may not even hear French spoken all that often.The hard part is working without French.You really need to be bilingual to work any job dealing with the public or in a professional setting.
Any business that deals with the rest of Canada or the US requires fluent English, but you will need French as well.If you do not need to work, then go there and spend your time learning French.It’s a great city with lots to do, especially if you don’t mind the large, harsh winter.
Summers are fantastic and the people are great.
If you mean could you get by without speaking French in Montreal then the answer is yes.I was quite nervous when I came here as I spoke little to no French, however I started language lessons and tried my best.I found the people to be above kind and helpful, in fact I had to ask them in my local shops and bakeries and places I used if they minded staying with the French instead of automatically switching to English when they saw me struggle, as I really wanted to learn).
They were so encouraging and would always compliment me on my effort and take notice of my improvement.But your question was what is life like in Montreal without soaking French, I would say, passable but it’s such a beautiful language, such a beautiful culture and such a grat opportunity to immerse yourself in and learn I would say there’s no reason at all not to learn the language even if you’re only visiting.
Yes you can but it will be for a short time otherwise you’ll become a social outcast.Although Montreal is multicultural, the official language is French,therefore when you get in a store or on the street people expect you to speak in the local language first.It is up to them to switch to English if they deem it necessary.
I live in Montreal and I am fully trilingual with French, English and Spanish, if you converse with me I will first respond in French and if I see you struggle too much, then I’ll switch to English or Spanish.Keep in mind this, you are the visitor, I’m local, as a matter of respect you should make the effort to learn the language, if I feel that you’re not making any effort to learn the local language, even though I am fluent in English and Spanish I will not give you the time of day in any languages I speak.
It will be a bit hard if you know zero French.Depending the region, sometimes all the things in your vision are only in French, the supermarket, the kindergarten, the newspaper, the signboard, etc.The most traffic signs are only in French.
The person maybe just speak French, maybe he can not speak English or don’t want to do so.In 2013, I tried to take a French course for beginner, and the agent of government kept speaking in French with me.It is really memorable experience!
The government of Quebec is devoting to keep French’s official position and they do success.The result is Montreal is a French city instead of bilingual city like other international cities.
A large percentage of Montrealers are bilingual.A good many are trilingual and more.Obviously if you have a smattering of French things will be easiest but if you at least try things get easier.
A smaller percentage of people see themselves as language-police to remind you that French is the official language here while if the majority of citizens see someone make the effort, most will switch to English to accommodate.To get the best from conversations, cultural events and popular attractions you will benefit from having French while to be served in restaurants, get accommodations and shop, it won’t be necessary.While life is generally easy in Montreal, things will get a lot more French as you travel further into the Province and to its other cities.
On the west side of the city (west of St-Laurent street), you can live fine without speaking French.I know a few people who do.On the east side, like in most parts of Quebec, you need to speak French because most people do not speak English.
From a social aspect, it is a plus to speak French but so is speaking Italian if you adventure yourself in Montreal’s little Italy or Chinese in China town.It really depends on your lifestyle.If you are retired or have a secured English-speaking job waiting for you in Montreal, then you do not absolutely need to speak French.
Never lived in Montreal, but if you’re looking for work, I can imagine that it would be almost impossible if you only speak English.And I’m pretty sure that those who only speak French, aren’t much better off since it seems to be a bilingual city.If you’re English-only, I would say that you might have some luck in English-speaking schools, McGill/Concordia, are a medical doctor with your own office, are a lawyer “ “, supporting staff in said offices (though I can imagine they’d want some bilingual employees to translate), work in a mom-and-pop Anglophone company, or work in housekeeping.
Ottawa is also a bilingual city, but they use English first so you can get away with only knowing English more often.
For your studies it’s great!The McGill and Concordia bubble let’s you live your daily life in English as in any other Canadian city with the advantage of being in Montréal.If you want to live here permanently then you have to get used to the idea of learning French asap.
Life here is hard if you’re not bilingual.People will be jerks to you if you don’t speak French and expect everyone to speak to you in English.Quebecers don’t think the whole “Canada’s a bilingual country so English is good enough” is cute and they will make it brutally obvious in everyday conversations.
French is my first language and I’ve been in contact with english speaking people or people who don’t speak english neither french.You can live in Montreal without speaking French but you’ll be limiting your possibilities.French is much needed for all the small thing in everyday life: like calling a plumber, your electricity bill.
You’ll be able to work in company where the only language is French.Company as Desjardins will give you french class if you’re a permanent employee.Be aware that there’s a lot of tolerance, there’s a lot of meetup that are bilingual.
If you stay within the bubble of McGill or Concordia I guess it’s okay but even then I always felt unaccepted until I could speak some French.Not that people were unaccepting but that was just the sensation I had.If you go to parties you will encounter only French conversations, and if you can’t even understand it, you won’t have as much fun.
From experiences of friends from outside, and even from me (while I know French, my spoken French isn’t always as good as I’d like it to be), the answer is “it depends.” As Ville de Montreal notices, and most public signage is only in French, it can be difficult.At stores and restaurants, you should have less problem downtown, especially at chains.At mom and pop places, especially in Eastern Montreal, it may be a bit more difficult.
Beware, there are a minority of people who get genuinely offended if you dare speak English.Thankfully they’re a minority.Finding a job may be difficult, depending what line of work you’re getting into.
Retail positions might be right out.
If you want to study here, you will face no issue, especially if you live around Concordia or McGill university.However, if you want to work, you will miss on A LOT of opportunities; most jobs require ppl to be fully bilingual.Landing your dream job is much harder if you don’t speak French.
I was a student in Montreal for 3 years and speak no French whatsoever.Generally speaking, the area that I was living, the McGill Ghetto, was very English speaking.The only time I would occasionally run into an issue would be taking a cab and generally, showing the driver the address on your phone is an easy solution.
I can’t speak to working in Montreal as much.After graduating school and moving to San Francisco, while SF is a great place, I really miss my time in Montreal.
It’s just fine 🙂 I have lived here three years and do not speak French.You may hear that you need to live in the west part of the city but that’s not accurate.I have lived in Villeray, NDG and now Plateau/Mile End and it’s always been fine.
I have had a grand total of three incidents involving language.
You are probably asking this question for someone else.With a name like yours, you must have a good knowledge of French.Anyway, Montreal is a “bilingual” city, with most of the English-speaking living west of St-Laurent Street, also known as the main, and the French on the east side.
There are also pockets of Portuguese, Jewish and other language groups sprend throughout the island.I would strongly suggest that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do.Learn enough French to get by; it will much appreciated!
I am French-speaking, but also fluent in English.
I studied French for a couple of years.At first, it was hard to be around people that preferred to speak French and not English.But they speak English to you, if you don’t speak French.
The food is also great.I think that people have right to preserve their heritage if they are French.They are an only province in Canada that speaks French.
Probably to be able to work there, you need to speak French very well.
My personal opinion is that back in the days, you would need to live in western part of the city to be effective and to be able to communicate with people.Like I said… back in the days.Now in 2019, it is so much easier.
You can live in Ahunstic, Villeray, Parc Ex, Mile end, etc.Basically every neighborhood has 100% anglophone people.To get educations, it is not going to be hard at all since there is English college’s and English Universities.. Now to work in MTL, I suggest you learn basic french or at least the key words.
It really is going to help you getting employed.If anyone need some tips, please let me know.
If you plan to stay in Montreal for a long time, you should plan to learn French, out of respect for the country and culture.
You should not be able to do anything more without speaking French here than what I would be able to do in Toronto or Vancouver without speaking English.
Plenty of people do.Unilingual English speakers are not a rare sight at all.The only downside is that it’ll probably be keeping you from “blending in” entirely.
You should also choose your neighborhood accordingly: downtown, close to McGill and Concordia universities, is almost entirely English-speaking, as well as the Mile-End, Westmount, NDG, and the West Island.
Montreal is, in fact, a bilingual city.You can live your life in English without running into major troubles at all.It is still however recommended to learn French, so you could discover the many sides of the beautiful city of Montreal(many of those sides are mostly in French).
I think you will miss out a big part of what the city has to offer.Montreal (despite what the politicians say) is a billingual city and speaking both languages opens up all kinds of doors in professional and social settings.
Many never learn it but we find it annoying when the person who refuses to say just a few words of our language will call “ rude “ the people who don’t speak English.I live 16 miles from downtown Montréal and there is zéro English speaker in my neighborhood, if you want to start a chat in English it’s a non-starter .
It depends what you are doing in Montreal , as a student or on a transfer post i can say the city is very livable and vibe.
But if you are looking for a job its very difficult and life is not so easy,doing business is i think a nigtmare as they have language police who clamp down on petty language issues, But anyway learning a new language is always a bliss and the city offer numerous facilities to those who wants to learn.
As others have said, large parts of the Western half of the Island of Montreal are predominantly English-speaking and you can live in English fairly easily.
However if you want a job, you will be limited to two kinds of employers: 1) anglophone educational, social and cultural institutions, and 2) small or medium-sized businesses that are anglo-owned, where the vast majority of employees are anglophone and who cater to a largely anglophone population or to a market mainly outside Quebec.
Not speaking French in Montreal is easier than not speaking English.Almost everybody speaks English or has basics.
It’s just like moving into a castle and deciding to spend all your time alone in a closet.Don’t do it.French is not hard to learn for an anglophone.
It’s the same alphabet and both languages share about 20% of the vocabulary.
I’ve never been to Montréal, but from what I have heard, yes, you can.Montréal is a multicultural city and there are people from all around the world.However, you run the risk to get secluded in your own community if you don’t speak French, the official language.
Furthermore, all commercial ads are supposed to be available in French.
You can get along just fine without speaking French you can get all of your essential service done in English but you will eventually have to speak French doing well anything besides essential services unless you live in Laval or the West Island where French might be used less frequently
I ordered a bank card in English two weeks ago it never came.Today I went to the branch spoke French and I have a new bank card.
It’s possible to get by without French as a tourist, but living there is likely another thing altogether (barring a job offer that didn’t require you to speak French to start with).