The Language Challenge

The Language Challenge

By Vida Delfin Verreault

Learning French in Quebec

Have you ever experienced being a stranger in a place where you don’t even understand what people are saying? You cannot talk, you get lost or your head just explodes because you don’t know what to say, you can’t express what you think and no one understands you and you don’t understand them either. What a nightmare!

Quebec_RoadsignMy first week in Quebec was like this. No words, no meanings. If you want to visit Quebec for pleasure or live in this beautiful city, you have got to speak French. More than two years ago when I arrived in Quebec to live with the love of my life, I couldn’t even utter two sentences. Yes, two sentences! I could only say one sentence at a time “My name is Vida period.” “I live in Rue saint Jean period”. I got lost in the bus many times and took time in doing my grocery shopping because I did not know the names of things I wanted to buy. I felt silly but at the same time, it was funny. I tried using sign language. I was like a child learning new words and phrases.  Adults at my age would teach me words and correct me if I permitted them to.

On my 2nd week, I enrolled at At this language school, a student pays about $ 60.00 for a 3 month session. I started in the intermediate level – simply because I knew how to say one sentence at a time. Here, the students are great and total mixture of foreigners. You can see the real face of immigration with students young and old alike, rich and poor, different educational levels and backgrounds, different cultures, different immigration statuses and even different smells of food. After 3 months, I could half understand what my mother in-law was saying to me.

I was also qualified for free French lessons offered by the government of Quebec to immigrants. This time I took another 5 month session at n at Here I went to take the intermediate to advanced level. At the end of my course, I was able to find a job as a salesperson in the tourist area of Quebec City. This proved to me that I was able to communicate and understand the Quebec language now, better than when I arrived. In the summer of 2011, I enrolled on a micro program at University Laval and this made me improve my French more and at the same time, I was able to secure a job as a receptionist.

Right now I’m still fine tuning my French. Finally after 10 attempts, at the end of 2012, I passed a French exam with comprehension, reading and writing.

I’m in the process of looking for a Quebec government job, the next rung on the ladder to making a go of it here in La Belle Province.

Clear hah?

Proof that if we really want to succeed, we will! I am still right exactly on the road to that. The important thing is we never stop learning, stay very open and stay with the great values that I have learned – patience and courage.

Keep it up, you’ll get there!


This article is kindly supported by Les Services Emchar inc.
Cours d’anglais à Quèbec.


Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Vida Delfin Verreault

Vida Delfin Verreault holds a degree in Communications and possesses more than 13 years of marketing and brand management experience from Manila, Philippines. Seven years of which as Marketing Manager in the Philippine office of an international brand of automotive parts. A marketing and communications specialist, she has travelled Europe and Asia extensively. Vida has been living in Québec City since August 2010, and is an MBA student at Université Laval. She has held various jobs in Québec and is presently working in a pharmaceutical call centre. She shares her home with her loving husband Éric and their adorable dog, Cappuccino. Together, they love to eat in restaurants and travel. Vida loves to write, read, sing, watch movies and learn about people and ideas.


  1. knitrev
    knitrev 7 February, 2013, 13:25

    I have heard similar complaints from other newcomers, but I think that this is the same in other countries as well. At least here in Quebec, there are many free or inexpensive classes offered for newcomers – whether from other countries or just other provinces.

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