Montreal code-switching

Natalie Lark

Like most other North American cities, if you wander down the streets of Montreal and through its neighborhoods, you will hear most of the languages of the world spoken and brought to the city by immigrants.

However, Montreal offers a particular twist to linguistic diversity in urban areas by the number of native-born speakers using two languages in their day-to-day lives (French and English), while the immigrants can use three or more languages. So, this final post is dedicated to my favorite topic called code-switching in Montreal, in which I am about to discuss the reasons of code-switching mentioned in the textbook and based on my own observations.

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Bonjour, Hi! This is so wonderfully Montreal!

Xiaoke Sun

“Language shapes a city” (de la Hosseraye, 2015). While walking around,
Montrealers never feel too surprised to hear the bilingual greeting. I suppose “Bonjour, hi” is the most appropriate expression to depict the uniqueness of this city — of being fairly bilingual. According to Statistics Canada in 2011, the greater Montreal area has nearly 2 million bilingual people. Young Montrealers have a rate of bilingualism as high as 80% (de la Hosseraye ,2015). Beyond the obvious cultural richness that bilingualism brings to this city, it also creates an advantageous environment for learners to acquire French/English as a new language.

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Language and Identity


I started using English when I was four. My parents decided to move to Boston, and consequently, I began to attend an American kindergarten. Because I couldn’t speak any English at that point, I never really understood what was going on around me. I distinctively remember the first day of school, when I found myself staring into the eyes of a boy who had jet-black hair and dark brown eyes. He looks just like me! That must mean he’s Japanese! However, when I enthusiastically invited him to play with me in Japanese (「一緒に遊ぼう!」), he stared at me before shaking his head and walking away. That was a blow to my self-confidence; at the tender age of four, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to play with me. It quickly became evident that in my new surroundings, learning English was a complete necessity.

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A Discussion on Identity and English as a Global Language

Posted by Cheryl Lingjuan Yan (Post #2)

The word “Multilingualism” refers to the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers (Tucker, 1999). When I first came to Canada, I found people here in Montreal to be amazing. Most people are at least bilingual and almost everyone can speak three or four languages. People all come from different background, or, to be more specific, have different identities, for instance, Canadian, French, half-Spanish, full-Korean, etc. The reason why Montrealers can speak so many languages derives from the city’s history, and it also may partially be because of its colonial culture. Quebec was founded and colonized by French settlers for a long time. Therefore, French culture has a strong influence on Quebec. In addition, Canada is one of the members of the British Commonwealth. Perhaps these are the reasons people in Montreal are at least bilingual in English and French.

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Addition > Division

Geraldine Gras (1):

Je me permets d’écrire ma première publication sur ce blogue en français. Tentative après tentative, je rencontre de la difficulté à m’exprimer tel que je le voudrais en anglais alors je sors mon autre paquet de cartes, celui-ci francophone. Cette envie d’écrire en français est aussi la conséquence d’un évènement survenu lors d’une rencontre avec les parents d’un de mes élèves. Ma partenaire d’enseignement (l’enseignante d’anglais) et moi-même avions rendez-vous avec des parents afin de discuter les besoins particuliers de leur enfant. Étant enseignante dans une commission scolaire anglophone, et de plus dans un secteur anglophone tel que Westmount, la rencontre fut en anglais afin de faciliter la communication. À la fin de la rencontre, la mère m’approcha et me dit : « Geraldine, you are [very] anglophone French teachers ». En premier lieu, cela m’a fait sourire. Après tout, c’est bien sympathique de se faire dire que l’on s’exprime convenablement, sans accent lié à sa première langue, lors de l’utilisation de sa deuxième langue. Puis, ce commentaire m’a tout de suite ramenée au deuxième cours lors qu’on adressait l’idée de l’identité langagière. Suis-je devenue trop anglophone pour mon rôle d’enseignante de français?

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