Concerns about Immigration to Quebec

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Subject: Concerns about Immigration to Quebec
  G´day to one and all,
My family and I are living in Australia at the moment, where I am finishing my PhD. We have been working here in both professional and volunteer jobs during the course of my studies. My wife has a bachelor´s degree, and I have a master´s as well as a PhD soon to finish. Our three children are very young and are in the lower primary years. English is their mother tongue, as it is mine, and while my wife spoke another language at birth, she is as fluent in English as I am. I know enough French to get by, though I must admit whenever I use the language, my French friends wince. My wife does not know French at all, but we are addressing this by taking up French classes.

We are working on our Quebec Provincial Nomination, hoping to settle in Montreal, but I have a few concerns. I have heard that all children in Quebec have to go to French public schools. If my kids do so, I would imagine they would have serious difficulty. Can anyone tell me what my children would have to go through when we get there? How will the school system enable them to integrate if they have no French language skills at all?

I am also concerned about our ability to find employment. How difficult is it for non-Francophones to find decent work? We have never been a burden on any system. Wherever we are in the world, we have always tried to blend in as best we can and make a contribution to our community. This is especially true here in Australia, even if we are not permanent residents. We will do our level best to integrate into Quebecois society when we get there, but I´d like to know what challenges we would have to face and how best to meet them.

If my wife were to go to a government office or a shop, would she be able to transact business even if her knowledge of French is next to nothing? Would I be able to transact business despite my halting command of French? Will we be offending anyone if we used English in Quebec more often than French?

Please give me objective, level answers. I would truly and sincerely appreciate it.


(in reply to: Concerns about Immigration to Quebec)
Hi Glenn,

Montreal is an amazing city. I lived there for 4 years and I truly loved it there. Your wife would easily be able to shop and visit federal government offices using English in Montreal. However your employment prospects without fluent French are poor. If you were fully bilingual you would probably be able to find work, but even then it is truly more difficult for an anglophone than for a francophone. Also, Montreal is not a city with a ton of business opportunity, a large number of the residents are students and a lot of the work is related to academia and or to tourism. I am fully billingual and left Montreal due to my dim employment prospects there. I worked in administration. There are two English language universities, perhaps with your PhD you could work there, but I know that these positions are very competitie and they are using a lot of student teachers and contract positions instead of tenure track positions.

There are areas of Montreal that are more English than others. You may want to consider the West Island (suburbs) or Montreal West (a predominately English speaking area of Montreal).

Your children will have to attend French language school as all children in public school in Quebec whose parents were not educated in English in Canada do. I am not sure what resources the schools have for older children who are unfamiliar with French. I know some schools deal with large immigrant populations. I babysat a child who spoke English and Hindi at home. Her first year was very difficult for her but she is now fully trilingual. I´ve moved away but she is in touch with me on facebook and her status are nearly always in French. Children learn languages much more easily than adults, but certainly it was difficult in her first year when other children were playing and she could not understand.

There are some francophones who will not like hearing you speak English. It is understandable that they do not want to see their province lose its language. The strong protectionist legislation ensures French will always be a part of Quebec but it is increasingly common to hear English downtown these days (as it was pre-referendum). For the most part though you will be fine, try to use your French when interacting with francophones and they will not usually care what language you use with your own friends and family.

Good luck.

(in reply to: Concerns about Immigration to Quebec)
Sorry I´m using a netbook with a sticky keyboard so please excuse the typos.
Many thanks (in reply to: Concerns about Immigration to Quebec)
Hi Rita,

Thank you for responding. Now, I believe my decisions will be better informed. Don´t worry about your typos, and you do not need to apologise. You have my profound gratitude, however, and I wish you well.


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