Je me souviens - how to learn French in a year

We might move back to Ville de Quebec. We lived there for half a year some years ago, and discovered that it was not too easy to live there and only know English. In stores there was general fear to be seen in the faces of the employees if I addressed them in English. Luckily, the larger stores often had some young Canadian from the west working there, trying to learn French, so I mostly spoke to them. Once riding the bus, talking to my kids in Norwegian, a man approached us asking in French if we were from the UK…

So, this time around, I would like to communicate with the natives. Being from Europe, I think it will be most useful for me to spend the next year starting to learn standard French. I gather that people in Ville de Quebec understand standard French well. I know that there are some peculiarities in Québécois French, but I guess I will pick up on those once we get there. My main concern now is to establish a basic level before we leave.

I will basically start learning French from scratch. My aim is to function OK in Ville de Quebec, talking in stores, talking to the taxi driver, ordering a rental car, follow some news, etc.

I guess I will just start reading using LingQ and perhaps find one of the classic course books to help me along. I would appreciate some hints on how to get on with a good start, and also some thought on the Standard French / Québécois French issue (yes, I know about Benny’s video).

Do not worry about Quebecois any more than you would worry about any other local dialect. Think from a POV of a learner of Norwegian: should he care about dialects? Standard French is quite universal in the Francophone world.

Meanwhile check this thread:


I second everything that Dooo said.

Prior to my first time in Montreal in January, I was nervous about the dialect issue. My friend’s family was extremely generous and allowed me to stay at their home, so I did get to experience the real language. My friend himself is university educated, and his French is probably more “correct” than that of most of my French friends. His parents were harder to understand, and they used A LOT of vocabulary I had never come across before, since I had only ever spent time in France. I found that this vocabulary that is different from the ‘standard’ has overwhelmingly to do with household chores, or with cars (which comes from English, mostly - “le clutch, le shifter, etc.” Outside of the house I never had any problems.

I don’t know why everyone recommends “Tête à Claques,” as was done in both that linked to thread and in Luca’s video. A major theme of that show is the exaggeration of the dialect. It won’t do anything but discourage you. I’d recommend that you check out the podcasts from Radio-Canada. I listen to this one on a daily basis:

Québécois comedy is amazing, and you’ll find on youtube an endless supply of stand-up clips (I like Guy Nantel), sketch videos (Bruno Blanchet is amazing on "la fin du monde est à 7h), and even some series such as “Les Bougons” and “La Petite Vie.” To learn about current events in Quebec while laughing like hell, just check out “Le Bye Bye.” I’m actually going to try to go to the Juste Pour Rire comedy festival this year.

I started learning French because my mother is French and I have a lot of family in France. Now that I’ve gotten into Canadian French, and have started meeting Quebeckers, everything has changed.


Well, I guess the best way to learn Quebécois is…uhm…learning Quebécois. There´s more material for “Standard French” though. I don´t think it´d be difficult to learn “Standard French” first and make a transition to Quebécois once you live there.

After learning Oxford English in school, I listened to huge amounts of American AND Canadian AND Australian AND New Zealandish English, but my English doesn´t sound nearly as funny as it “should”^^

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I’ve been working on my French for a while using material mostly from Europe. Now that I’ve reached a somewhat Upper Intermediate level, I will start working on Québécois in parallel. My end goal is to understand both varieties with ease. I bought the Québécois conversation guide from Assimil just recently, and thought you may find it helpful:



As I am Quebecois, I could say that : If you understand French, you will understand ‘‘Quebecois.’’ You just need to exposure.

I don’t speak well English. I hope you will understand.




You don´t have to apologize.

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@Paule: “…After learning Oxford English in school, I listened to huge amounts of American AND Canadian AND Australian AND New Zealandish English, but my English doesn´t sound nearly as funny as it “should”^^…”

Come to think about it, that’s what happens to most English people too: they get Oxford/BBC/Queen’s/RP English from teachers at school - then any amount of US and Australian English on TV…

So probably you are following the right path :slight_smile: