June 2008 issue

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Learning French in Canada

French language teaching makes up a small but significant part of Canada’s language teaching industry, attracting students from countries nearby and also those wanting to learn French somewhere a bit different.

Learning French in the ‘New World’ makes it completely different from an experience in France,” says Sharen Craig from National School of Languages in Ottawa and Quebec City. “Ottawa is a bilingual city as it is the seat of government although its uniqueness lies in its proximity with the province of Quebec, with the city of Gatineau just across the Ottawa River. People work and live on both sides of the river and the traffic jams on the bridges testify to this each morning.”

Canada has two official languages of English and French, although French language learners will find the majority of language schools in the two provinces of New Brunswick, which is officially bilingual, and Quebec, where the official language is French, or the capital city of Ottawa in Ontario. The attraction of learning French in such a unique environment is obvious, according to Gregory Mattei at Académie Linguistique Internationale in Montreal, especially if a student’s first language is neither French nor English. “Students like the advantage of the possibility of studying two languages at the same time in Montreal,” he says.

Even for those wanting to learn French solely, the ability of most local people to speak English is an attraction for some students, as is the cosmopolitan atmosphere found in many of the cities in Quebec. Emanuele Pradel at Ecole Internationale de Langues at the YMCA du Grand Montreal in Montreal, says, “Montreal is close to the USA, it has a mix of European and American culture and architecture, it’s bilingual, cosmopolitan and cultural with many activities and it’s not too crowded.”

While some language schools devote themselves entirely to the tuition of either French or English exclusively, other schools offer tuition in both languages. “Our Montreal campus stands at 50 per cent French and 50 per cent English students,” says Tyler Powell from Centre Linguista in Montreal, who adds that they offer a variety of language programmes, including academic preparation, language related to culture and art and a variety of activities.

The unique nature of Quebec and its language schools offers a reason to consider learning French in Canada and some schools report an increase in interest for programmes among students from overseas. Yuriko Nadeau from Point3 Language Centre in Montreal, says, “We have been offering French language courses for 12 years now and the programme has increased since we began. Our intensive French programmes have become very popular over the past two-to-three years. We have seen an increase in Mexican students [and] other [top] nationalities would be Japanese, Swiss, Korean and Canadian.”

Nadine Baladi from ILSC Montreal says that five years ago only 35 per cent of the school’s students were learning French but now this number has increased to 50 per cent. “The increasing popularity of French is definitely noticeable in the Mexican, Colombian and Brazilian markets, as well as in Western European countries and increasingly in Japan,” she says.

For students wanting to be truly immersed in the French language, Quebec City is somewhere where English is rarely heard, according to Viviane Brassard from Bouchereau Lingua International in Quebec City. “There are not many places in Canada where French immersion courses can be offered,” she says. “The city must be considered as completely French speaking, like Quebec City – this is not the case for Montreal where 50 per cent of its population speak English.” The school has students from around the world, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, the UK and Colombia and, according to Brassard, most are attracted by the fact that Quebec is a “European-style city in North America”.

While French programmes are available in non-Francophone areas, the French Canadian provinces have an interesting history and schools here try and combine language tuition with an introduction to local heritage. At the National School of Languages in Quebec City, students can undertake a French in Quebec City study tour programme, which consists of “language instruction, tours and activities in the historical city of Quebec”, according to Craig. The opportunity to undertake lots of outdoor activities is also an attraction, according to Valentina Stagnani from College Saint-Charles Garnier in Quebec City. “Canada is nature,” she says. “You can do a lot of outdoor activities in each season.

Nadeau says that their school has recently introduced an art programme although she notes a trend towards more serious intentions for learning French. “[We offer] workshops to help with resume writing, interviewing and writing skills,” she says. “We are also an official testing centre for TEF/TEFaQ, which is often used for immigration purposes”.
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English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
Quality English Ltd.  

Your World on

Malta Tourism

CEC Network  

Bond University  
Griffith University  
La Trobe University  
Language Studies
      International School
      University of
Universal English
      College (Global
      Village Sydney)  

CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK)

Centre Linguista
Four Corners
      Language Institute  
IH Vancouver  
King George
      International College
Richmond School
      District #38  

Beijing International
      Education Institute.
Shanghai Jingan
      Neworld Training

Bell International
      (Malta, UK)
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (England, France,
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language
      and Leisure  
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Malvern House
      College London  
Oxford Intensive
      School of English 
      (Australia, England,
      France, Germany,
      Spain, USA)
Prime Education
Queen Ethelburga's
Scanbrit School of
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,

Alliance Française
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
      de Montpellier  
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France  
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
      de Strasbourg-
Alliance Française
Alliance Française
      du Val de Loire
Silc - Séjours
      (France, Spain, UK)
Université de
      Paris Sorbonne  

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  
      Kolleg E.V.  

Prime Speech
      Power Language

Swan Training

      Language School  
International School
      of Languages  


Cape Studies  

Idiomas Sí!  

EF Language
Colleges Ltd 
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      France, Germany,
      Ireland, Italy, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Russia, Spain,
      UK, USA)

ALCC - American
ELS Educational
University of
      California San Diego
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)


      House Newcastle  
Kaplan Aspect
Professionals UK  
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK)

International House
      Sevilla - Clic