Montreal has it’s very own Catch-22. French is your golden ticket to a job, a job is your ticket to cash, and cash is your ticket to learning French. Drat. Sure, you could “just speak to people” but the minute the conversation gets past “Je m’appelle” and “Je suis née à New York,” it pretty much ends. Hurray for high school French and that trip to Paris you took in eighth grade. One encounter with a grammar enthusiast who feels the need to address every incorrectly conjugated verb is enough to put an end to that.
There are a few cheap options to learning French here. There are also some not so cheap ones. Here are some valid options to scout out before packing your bags for Ontario.
Francisation Courses run by the Comission Scholaire de Montréal. I’m endlessly amused that francization course webpage, presumably for people who don’t know French at all, is only in French. No wonder so few people seem to tap into this resource. At any rate, Quebec has several levels of courses. These are held at different schools and adult education centres. A test is administered prior to the course in order to determine an appropriate level. Keep an eye out on the local paper or on your local school’s website to see when the next placement exam is offered. The price tag is pretty close to free, but the time commitment is often large (11 weeks!). Some serious documentation is required about citizenship and stuff, so check the website ahead of time for what you need (birth certificates, for example).
A similar if not exactly the same group of 11-week Francisation courses are available to immigrants as well as some financial aid to attend them from the Quebec Government. These include intensive full time courses, part time ones, and classes specializing in health, nursing, law, engineering, and management. You can also hustle your butt to St. Foy, where there is a self-training course (here).
The province of Quebec compiles a rather lengthy list of computer programs that teach French. Most of these programs are available at one’s local public library. One other thing on the list is an online course called Du Français Sans Fautes available for a mere $48 and offers hours of instruction.
Milton Park Recreation Centre offers courses in everything from line dancing to miniature puppet making. Guess what? It also offers French courses in different levels at very affordable prices. Woo! Depending on hours, the courses run from 4-6 hours a week for range from $99-175.
Wild, wild Web. For a really incredible website, check out OffQc. Felix posts amazing vocabulary often, taken from around the city. He also has several books including C’est what (75 mini lessons on Quebecois French that you can buy as an ebook for a well-worth-it $10), 1000 which is about conversational Quebecois French as a PDF file you can buy here for $20, and finally Say it in French, also purchasable here for $10. Finally, 91 videos and trascripts of Quebec french can be snagged here. I’ve also heard people have success with the app/website Duolingo, although Duolingo is not specific to Quebec. Duolingo is free and makes money by selling your translations to others.
Meetup.com is a good way to get to meet like minded people. There are, of course, groups that focus on teaching language or doing a language exchange. C’est La Vie Practice Your French with Us is one group. Or Downtown Meetup for French. Another is the Hochelega-Maisonneuve Anglais-French. Participation in these groups usually entails signing up at meetup.com and then paying $1-2 for the meetup.
Once you’re ready to roll out some bucks, you can try University Courses. Every university has courses for students taking a range of possible alternatives. McGill has a French as a Second Language Course offered as a credit course, as well as a continuing education studies programs. There are also summer programs, such as the McGill Quebec Studies Summer Institute. Concordia’s school of extended learning has a French Conversation program and a French Written Program, each with 40 hour courses. UQAM offers a range of courses intended for beginning speakers in French as well. U de M has courses offered by the École de Français, language worskshops, and even language pairings.
There are plenty of private schools, institutes, and tutors too. Most private schools and institutions offer part time courses and full-time intensives. There are many. Some of the most familiar are the YMCA, the ILSC, and Berlitz. The cheapest I found in my pretty un-extensive Google search was the French School. It is designed entirely for beginners to reach French level 1 at $640 for a month. The YMCA’s language school has placement tests every Wednesday from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. After that, there are lots of courses that include one day a week conversation workshops to 12 week full-day intensives. The courses aren’t cheap (the 12 week intensive is $3,208 and others cost less) but offer complimentary gym membership.