Quebec is Canada’s largest province with a large French-speaking population. And if you ever dream of visiting Canada, Quebec is one of the provinces you may wish to visit.
However, with a larger French-speaking community, you may be worried that you may not survive there if you don’t speak French.
Especially, since some people believe that it’s rude to speak English there, it’s easier to believe they’ve confirmed your fear.
However, that’s not the case in Quebec and if this is your concern, you’re in the right place for the answers.
In this article, I’ll answer your question about if it’s rude to speak English in Quebec and what you should know about English and French signs.
Finally, in the end, you’ll know the things to take note of before speaking English in Quebec.
Is It Rude to Speak English While in Quebec?
No, it isn’t rude to speak English in Quebec. Quebec is a large province that accommodates English natives and speakers alike.
Although you wouldn’t find a lot of English speakers in this province, there’s a good concentration in Western Montreal, Outaouais, Eastern regions, and southern Quebec.
So, English speakers are welcome anytime and are free to speak the language.
But it’s important to note that not many people understand English. So, you shouldn’t go about speaking English to just anyone as some may ignore you.
Major reasons why it isn’t rude to speak English in Quebec
English Natives Live in the Province
It isn’t disrespectful to speak English in Quebec because there are English residents living in the city. Although Quebec adopted French as its official language, it’s still a bilingual province.
So, adopting French as its official language doesn’t mean it doesn’t acknowledge English natives.
English speaking isn’t banned either, so whether you’re a visitor or you live anywhere in the province, you’re free to speak English anywhere.
Also, there are English businesses and works English speakers can engage in. In addition, international companies in the province will require a knowledge of English.
So, these are instances that show speaking English in Quebec isn’t disrespectful.
Some Quebecers Are Willing to Try Out Their English Skills
While French is their official language, some Quebecers are interested in the English language. In Montreal for instance, the average population knows both French and English.
So, moving around the city, you will find Quebecers who are willing to try out their English skills.
Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you when you speak French to a Quebecer and he responds in English. Some even learn the language in schools.
Some Schools Teach in English
Another reason you should know it isn’t rude to speak English in Quebec is that they’ve English schools to accommodate English natives. You’ll find enough in Western Montreal, including English Universities.
If speaking English was disrespectful, they wouldn’t bother with English institutions.
Why It Seems Rude to Speak English in Quebec
It may appear rude to speak English in Quebec because it’s very obvious how the people are very proud of their heritage.
Originally, there has been some hostility between the French and English in Quebec in a bid for Quebec to protect its heritage.
However, all these were in the past and English tourists and visitors are welcomed with open arms.
In addition, Bill 101 recognized French as the official language of Quebec and this may make people believe it’s rude to speak English there.
Officially, French is the language for Quebecers, but it’s home to English speakers too.
Below are some reasons it may appear rude to speak English in Quebec:
You Won’t Find Many English Speakers
In Quebec, you won’t find many English speakers as English is a minority language. Only a few cities in the province have some number of English people.
For instance, Montreal is a home for English speakers as there’s a large percentage of English natives and speakers in the western part.
In addition, in the urban areas, you’ll find some good numbers of English speakers but when you go down to the locals, you’ll hardly see them.
So, English speakers are very few, as people converse daily and carry out business majorly in French.
Unless you go to an area like western Montreal where they live in large numbers, you may be skeptical about speaking English in any other places in Quebec.
Some Quebecers Will Ignore You If You Speak English to Them
There’s a chance you may find Quebecers who’d ignore you if you speak English outrightly with them.
This behavior is one of the reasons it appears rude to speak English in Quebec. However, this isn’t the case.
What the French natives in Quebec see as disrespectful is people speaking English just to anyone without concern.
They’d expect you to show a little courtesy by asking if they understand English, especially in French.
Asking if they understand English first, makes them willing to help you and you’d see many switching to English if they can speak the language.
So, coming to Quebec City for the first time, it’d be better if you learn some basic conversations in French to help you get along with the people better.
What Other Languages Are Spoken in Quebec?
In Quebec, other languages are spoken apart from English and French. These include Spanish, Arabic, Italian, and many more. Below are some of them:
Arabic is another language that’s spoken in Quebec among the Arab community. There is a good number of Arabians, especially in the Montreal part of Quebec.
This number makes up the majority of Arab Canadians. The 2021 Canadian census captures 343,675 Arabians and 4.14% had a knowledge of Arabic.
Out of this number, a good percentage lived in Quebec. So, Arabic is one language you may come across people speaking in Quebec.
Another language that’s spoken in Quebec is Spanish. There is also a good number of Spanish people in Quebec.
The 2021 census captures 453,905 Spanish and 5.46% of people who have knowledge of the language.
Italian is another language that’s spoken in Quebec. As of 2021, the Canadian census recorded 168,040 Italians in Quebec and 2.02% knew the language.
So, traveling around Quebec, you may find someone who speaks Italian.
Why Are There No English Signs in Quebec?
Moving around the province of Quebec, you’ll notice that many signs are in French. The French signs are with respect to the law that was passed.
In 1977, Bill 101 was passed recognizing French as Quebec’s official language. In addition, Bill 96 was passed into law on June 1st, 2022 to strengthen Bill 101.
This law reinforces the use of French throughout the province and this affects, businesses, schools, markets, and more.
In addition, Bill 101 recognizing French as Quebec’s official language affects public signage ad posters, stating they must be in French.
There’s an exemption for registered non-French trademarks, with the clause that French must be predominant.
However, these changes would come into force from June 1st, 2025. Many people are beginning to comply with this rule, so you may not find a lot of signs in English moving around in Quebec.
Speaking English in Quebec: Important Things to Note
If you can’t speak French but speak English, and you wish to visit or settle down in any part of Quebec province, there are some important things to note.
They include: learning some simple French, living in the English area, and asking questions. Having these things at the back of your mind will help you enjoy your stay for any length of time you wish to say.
Below are what you should know:
Learn Simple Conversations in French to Get You By
If you’re visiting Quebec either as a tourist or a short visitor, it’s important to know some basic phrases and expressions in the French language.
Knowing a little French will make it easier for you to get along easily with people.
As a tourist or a short visitor, it is easy to get help from tourist centers and hotels. Here, they’ve got a good number of people who speak English and can help you around.
However, you’ll enjoy your stay more if you can converse with the people in their native language, even if it’s something as simple as Bonjour (good morning).
This simple gesture will make them more welcoming and friendly. Naturally, you’ll make more friends.
Also, whether you’re coming to stay and whether you’ll be living in areas where English people are more in number, you’ll enjoy your stay more by knowing a little French.
As an English speaker with no idea of the French language, it’s important you learn to ask questions, especially when staying in areas where they hardly speak English.
In this way, you can manage your way through your stay. You can always ask in city hotels and receptions of big companies.
Settle in the English Areas
If you’re coming to stay in Quebec as an English speaker, it’ll be easier to settle in a neighborhood where there are a larger number of English speakers.
Here, you’d have better opportunities for good jobs, and English schools. What’s more, you’ll get by easily with the people and be able to find your way around.
It isn’t rude to speak English in Quebec. Quebec recognizes English speakers and there are English residents, especially in Montreal.
So, you’re free to speak English in Quebec without fear. However, it’d be better if you learn simple conversations in French and settle in the English-speaking territory if you come to say.
In addition, there are other languages spoken in Quebec, especially Spanish, Arabic, and Italian. So, if you speak any of these languages, you can find your people here.