If you’re a tourist and love visiting places, I bet Montreal will be among the beautiful cities you’d love to visit.
However, with the majority of the natives being French, you may find it worrisome if you’re not fluent in the language.
Can you get by with speaking only English? Is it disrespectful to speak English in Montreal?
These are some of the questions and more that may be going through your mind. Fortunately, I am here to set your mind at rest.
No, it isn’t rude to speak English in Montreal. Canada is a bilingual country and Montreal has a good percentage of native English speakers.
However, it’ll be a lot easier to stick to the English-speaking part of Montreal.
In this post, I’ll explain what life is like in Montreal for English speakers and whether you can survive in Montreal without speaking English.
Also, you’d know if you can survive in Montreal without speaking French. And in the end, you’ll know the English-speaking part of Montreal.
What Is Life in Montreal for English Speakers?
Life in Montreal for English speakers will not be easy compared to those who are familiar with the French language. Montreal is a part of the province of Quebec whose official language is French.
The majority of the people living in Montreal are French and only a few have English as their mother tongue. So, there are more French speakers than English speakers in Montreal.
Although Montreal is a bilingual city, with about the average population speaking both English and French, it won’t be easy to enjoy the city if you only speak English.
However, you can reside in the English-speaking part of the city. Nevertheless, knowing a little French will be more helpful.
If you wish to reside in Montreal for a long time and wish to explore the rich cultural heritage, arts, and people, knowing basic French is important.
Below are some of the things you’d face as an English Speaker in Montreal:
Employment Opportunities are Limited
If you’re familiar with only the English language in Montreal, your job opportunities are narrowed down compared with someone who can speak both languages.
Also, people who are only fluent in French will have more opportunities than one who is only fluent in English.
As earlier established, Montreal is a bilingual city and many jobs would require you to know both French and English.
However, since French is recognized as the official language in Quebec according to Bill 101, getting a public job would require your knowledge of the French language.
So, this places French speakers at a higher advantage except you know both English and French.
Nevertheless, there are good-paying jobs in the English part of Montreal. So, you may have to restrict yourself to the English part of Montreal to have a chance at a good job.
Getting Along with People Won’t Be Easy
Living in Montreal as an English speaker may affect your social life. You’ll find it hard to get along with French speakers without knowing a little French.
Since Montreal has a larger French-speaking community, it won’t be ideal to approach just anyone with English.
If you happen to speak English to a French man, he’s likely to ignore you because he believes you think he’s supposed to know English. So, this is one of the reasons people think it’s disrespectful to speak English in Montreal.
However, what is rude is approaching just anyone with English. So, to get along easily with as many people as you can, it’d be better to learn basic conversations in French.
You Won’t Enjoy the Place Fully
As a pure English speaker in Montreal, you won’t be able to explore Montreal fully and enjoy all it has to offer. Montreal is a very busy and commercial place.
Formerly it was known to be the most commercial city in Canada but has been taken over by Toronto. This country is Canada’s second biggest city after Toronto.
So, this is a city with a very rich culture and background. As an English speaker, if you want to enjoy Montreal to the full and not merely survive, knowing a little French is paramount.
To meet with the people, socialize well, and blend in, you’d need an everyday conversation in French.
Is Montreal Becoming More English?
No, Montreal isn’t becoming more English. However, over the years surveys and research have been carried out in the province of Quebec to check the percentage of English and French speakers.
And it was discovered that there has been an increasing percentage of English speakers, particularly in Montreal city. So, slowly the rise of native English speakers is rising in Montreal.
However, the percentage doesn’t affect the francophone communities. The French communities still have the highest population.
Statistics show that 7.1% of people living in Montreal know English only and 36.3% know French only and 55.1% know both English and French.
Also, 13.2% of Montreal have English as their mother tongue while 65.9% have French as their mother tongue.
From this data, it can be deduced that Montreal isn’t becoming more English. Although there has been a slight increase in English speakers over the years.
Can You Live in Montreal Without Speaking French?
Sure, you can certainly live in Montreal without knowing how to speak French. Montreal is a bilingual city with a rising population of French and English speakers, so you can live in Montreal without speaking French.
Generally, the Western part of Montreal is more English and the Eastern part is more French. So, to live well in Montreal without speaking French, you should stick to the western part where there are more English speakers.
That’s not to say you can’t live in the Eastern part of Montreal if you don’t speak French. However, you should know it won’t be easy to blend in well and job opportunities will be narrowed.
Nevertheless, there are increasing bilingual businesses you can look out for. In addition, you can attend college at Concordia, McGill, or Dawson University where they teach in English.
Here, you’ll find a good number of English speakers around. So, you can live in Montreal without speaking French. However, living is not the same as enjoying. And “enjoying” you’d get if you know a little French.
Can You Survive in Montreal Without Speaking English?
Yes, you can survive in Montreal without speaking English. Although Montreal is bilingual, it has French as the highest population of people.
So, if you don’t speak English, and you speak French you can live almost anywhere in Montreal.
The French occupy the majority of the Eastern part of Montreal and is the official language adopted by Quebec, the province. So, learning English is not a must in Montreal and it isn’t necessary for survival.
Although if you’re looking for international jobs, they’d always require a knowledge of the English language.
However, many job offers require fluency in French, so if you speak French, you’re good to go.
In addition, there are other languages spoken in Montreal apart from French and English.
So if you don’t speak English and you speak Italian, Arabic, or Spanish, you can also live in Montreal but it won’t be easy to interact easily with others.
What Are the English-Speaking Parts in Montreal?
If you’re an English speaker, here are the English part of Montreal you can settle down in:
Montreal West (Montréal-Ouest)
Montreal West is located Southwest of the center Montreal. It has a high concentration of English speakers.
This is a small close-knit area with about 5000 residents. Out of this number, about 75% speak English at home, and about 66% speak English as their first language.
Montreal West is a good place to live as an English speaker. This community houses three churches, parks, and public spaces, including George Booth, Davies, Dave Reid parks, and many more.
There are good educational opportunities in this town for English speakers. There’s the Royal West Academy, which is the best-rated English high school in all of the province of Quebec.
What’s more, due to its small population, families can quickly bond. So, this is one place you’d love to live as an English speaker.
Westmount is another English part of Montreal. This is an affluent area of Montreal that rivals Toronto and Vancouver for having a high standard of living.
This is a fairly populous town with about 20,000 residents, with enough parks and relaxation centers to cater to the people. This includes and is not restricted to Westmount park and King George Park.
In addition, there are a good number of schools, public and private, and public libraries to cater to the anglophone community. It also runs its electricity distribution; the Westmount Light and Power (Hydro-Westmount).
So, Westmount is another good place to live in Montreal as an English speaker.
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) translated as “Our Lady of Grace” in English is a large residential suburb in the city’s West end. As of 2016, the population was about 166,520.
NDG is bordered by Westmount in the east, Quebec in the north, and in the west, it shares boundaries with Montreal West, Côte-Saint-Luc, and Hampstead.
This community houses predominantly English speakers of Montreal. It’s a good commercializing center for English speakers who want to have a good time in Montreal.
There are a good number of parks for recreation, including Loyola park, Benny park, and others.
In addition, education is easily obtainable, with the English Montreal School Board (ESMB) running 40 primary and 17 secondary schools. So, this is another cool place for English speakers to settle in in Montreal.
Furthermore, as you move beyond Montreal West, communities like Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, and Kirkland all have a majority of English speakers.
It isn’t rude to speak English in Montreal. Montreal is a bilingual city and so you can get by speaking English.
However, it won’t be very easy to get by daily, especially if you don’t live in the English-speaking part of Montreal.
Also, you shouldn’t expect everyone to speak English in Montreal as French is the official language, despite it being a bilingual city.
So, you are likely to meet a French man who may ignore you if you don’t understand basic French.
Whether you’re an English speaker or not, it would be a lot of fun to live in Montreal if you can converse in simple French. However, learning the language is not a must, it’s entirely up to you.
Also Read: Is it Rude to Speak English in France?