The French Connection

AbnerwithFrenchsignPuis je alle… No, that’s not it. Puis j’aime… That’s wrong too. Oh man, it was almost my turn. I could feel it getting hotter in my jacket, my stomach knotting in itself. It was too late now.        

“Bonjour, que puis-je faire pour vous?”

“I’m sorry, but do you speak English?”


Unless you know a good deal of French, that may be how most conversations with store and restaurant employees will go. Montreal seems to look predominately French, but there is a good chance anyone you meet will be able to speak English as well. After my failed attempt to order at a McDonalds in french was over, I was not too discouraged to continue trying. However nervous I am about talking with strangers, I tried to initiate a quick conversation with a random passerby.

“Excusez-moi , quelle heure est-il?”   (Excuse me, what time is it?)Chaussonauxpommes

The man looked at his watch and responded, “Trois vingt et un.”  (3:21)

“Merci, beaucoup.”

And that was that. Mission success!

As intimidating it may seem to talk to others, the people you’ll meet are generally very nice and polite. After my first encounter, feeling confident, I attempted to speak in french with a cashier later on that day. I was at the Dollarama trying to return some ill-fitting headphones.


Knowing my limits, I figured this conversation wouldn’t last long in french.

“Parlez-vous anglais?” (Do you speak English?)


frenchsign01Oh god. It didn’t work. At this point, I started to stammer a bit, but was determined to keep going.

“Parlez-vous angl-”

At this point, the cashier seemed to know what I was asking and just stopped me with an abrupt “What?”

Not gonna lie, I was a bit scorned that she seemed fed up with my efforts. In her defense though, she did work a mundane job and probably was done talking to people. Hopefully.

The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to learn and practice a new language out in the field. I hadn’t realized how much I relied on everybody speaking the same language, and being here made me realize that life can be intimidating and a bit frightening when it’s harder to communicate with someone, but there’s bound to always be someone to help you out. If you’re looking to come to Montreal to learn some French, I highly recommend taking the Conversational French course. Two weeks in, and I already feel as if I can find my way throughout France… with a guide.

Useful Phrases

  • Comme ca va? “Hello. How are you?”
  • Ou est le/la… “Where is the….”
  • Combien ça coûte? “How much is it?”
  • Je ne parle pas francais. “Sorry. I do not speak french.”
  • Puis-je avoir le/la… “Can I have the…”
  • Merci beaucoup. “Thank you very much.”
  • Je suis un etudiant Champlain “I am a Champlain student.”

– Abner Herrera, Game Art Major, Official Blogger, Spring 2015