Montreal, Identity, Language, and Isolation

Maxime Lavallee – Post 3

I had an interesting discussion with someone the other night on the subject of English-speakers in Montreal. We were speaking about Quebecois theater and movies, and fell into a discussion about English-speakers in Montreal. We had found that a significant portion (not all of them!) of individuals we know, who had grown up in English-speaking families in Montreal, are completely disconnected from Quebecois culture. They don’t have French-speaking friends with whom they speak French, they don’t listen to French music, they don’t read French literature, they don’t watch French movies, or partake in any other Quebecois French cultural activity. We found it interesting that these individuals, most of whom are able to speak French, seemingly make no attempt to connect with French-language culture. Why is it that in a city, surrounded by so many French speakers, they haven’t made those connections?

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Language integration of anglophones in the Québec French school system: a missed opportunity for research?

Back in September, my group and I presented an article (Allen, 2006) on the integration of immigrants into Québec high schools via the ‘Classe d’Accueil’ program. The article stood out as it highlighted many issues facing how our province handles linguistic diversity and language integration in an ever-changing, multicultural city. It also allowed me to reach out to a friend who teaches ‘Classe d’Accueil’ and get some much needed insight into how difficult it can be for students and teachers alike.

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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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A Special Case of Language Anxiety?

By Wai In Chan

In one of our last classes, Lauren Godfrey-Smith gave an amazing lecture on language anxiety and the experiences of people who went through language anxiety. It was a really emotional experience for me because I felt that the study was acknowledging and validating my feelings about speaking and learning French in Montreal. Over 25 years of my life I have been learning French as a second language in English as a first language schools, and I STILL feel so much anxiety using the language that I avoid it at all costs even until today.

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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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Belonging or not belonging, that’s a question.

Liting Liu

Having been in Montreal for exact four months, now I feel no much difference from the day I landed at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport. Since I don’t speak French at all and my English is limited as well, the awkwardness I felt at the beginning still haunts me. I live in the community but I doubt if I belong to it.

In the evening of August 12th, I arrived at Montreal. I got a number, waiting to be called by the customs officer. Beyond my expectation, they don’t use any bilingual broadcasting machine to announce numbers. Instead, they shouted out numbers themselves in French, and in the hundred-digit-omitted form (e.g. 230 is read as “trente”). It is only after learning some basic French that I got to understand their omission by that time. As you would have guessed it right, I didn’t know the officer was announcing my number until she called several times and asked my number in English. I heard people in the room snickering. At last, the officer kindly offered me a tip – “If you plan to find a job and stay here, you must learn French.” After passing numerous “ARRET” road signs, I got to the apartment, posted “Welcome to the world of being blind and deaf” on Facebook.

Continue reading “Belonging or not belonging, that’s a question.”