July 13, 2022

How Important is French When Travelling To Canada

quebec city bus tour
Although French is one of the official languages in Canada, most recent statistics suggest that 22.8% of the population speak French as their first language, while many others speak it as their second one. If you are planning to travel to Canada, you may wonder if you need to get your French phrasebook out, or if you can get by with just English.

The short answer is that you do not need to speak French when travelling to Canada. Much in the same way that you don't need to speak Spanish if you're going to Spain, or Portuguese if you're going to Brazil. Will having a grasp of the native languages help you? Absolutely, but it's not an essential requirement and you can still get by pretty easily.

The longer answer is that it can sometimes help you if you do know a bit of French when travelling in Canada. This depends on why you are coming to the country, and mostly where in Canada you are going!

The majority of provinces speak English as the main language, with a couple of provinces preferring French over English. In few of the biggest cities and main tourist spots such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Calgary mostly everyone will speak English and all the signs will be in English. So, it you are planning on travelling to any of these destinations, you really don't have to worry about a language barrier. Which is why most times many people that immigrate to Canada only need to pass an English test for express entry to the country.

Quebec is the biggest region in Canada with a French-speaking population, as 94.5% of people in Quebec speak French. It is very much a French-first place, with all the signs being predominantly in French, and many people having conversations in French. If you are going to places like Quebec City or Montreal, you might struggle with the language barrier slightly as people may more likely to converse in French and you will have to explain you can't understand what they are saying. However, most people have a general grasp of the English even in French-speaking locations so you can get by and it shouldn't be too challenging to do things like asking for directions or shopping. 

If you are moving to a French-speaking area, it is probably best if you do learn how to speak this language as it will have a direct impact on your daily life. While a lot of people in Montreal and Quebec can speak English, they prefer to speak French. If you're moving for work, you may have no choice as everyone in the company could converse in French, so you need to learn it.

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