Today’s guest post is by Felix Polesello who lives in Montreal. He runs the excellent blog OffQc.com which features examples of authentic Québécois French from television, advertisements, signs, and even conversations he’s overheard on the street. If you’re interested in learning the spoken language of Quebec, Felix has just written an e-book about conversational Québécois French:
If you’re learning French but need to understand the Québécois, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The most important thing you can do, of course, is speak with the Québécois and listen to large amounts of spoken French. But, even then, learners sometimes comment that spoken Québécois French feels impenetrable in the beginning stages.
Challenge is great when learning a language, but it shouldn’t seem impossible. The great news is that it really isn’t impossible – learning to understand spoken Québécois French is most definitely something you can achieve. There’s nothing strange or mysterious about the French used in Québec. It’s just a lack of exposure to it that makes it seem difficult at first.
We can make a considerable improvement in how much spoken language we understand by not only listening extensively, but by becoming familiar with the frequently occurring features of spoken language.
Did you know that a question like t’as vu ça? might be asked spontaneously in Québécois French as t’as-tu vu ça? Or that c’est bon? might be asked as c’est-tu bon? What’s going on here? Why does c’est-tu bon? use the word tu?
Did you know that je suis can contract in spoken language to what sounds like chu? Do you know how tu es and tu as contract? What about il est, il a and il y a? In spoken Québécois French, even sur la and dans la can contract. Do you know how? Without knowledge of these and other contractions, it’s difficult to understand what’s being said in regular conversations.
When you listen to the Québécois speak casually, you’ll hear words like pogner, niaiser, plate and poche. You’ll hear là a lot too! What do these words mean?
Did you know that the Québécois pronounce patte and pâte differently? And that the letter d in dimanche doesn’t sound like the letter d in doux?
I’ve written a guide to get you started: C’est what? 75 mini lessons in conversational Québécois French. It’s a PDF written in English. It’ll give you a solid overview of the main features you need to know to become a better listener of French, and of Québécois French in particular.
Each mini lesson revolves around a sample sentence taken from the conversational level of French. You’ll explore each sentence for important features of spoken language.
The mini lessons also include usage or pronunciation notes, and more example sentences to help further your knowledge. In addition to the 75 example sentences that each mini lesson in based on, there are about 200 more example sentences throughout the guide. Exercises and an answer key at the end will help you test what you’ve discovered.
Take a look at the sample pages: table of contents, two sample mini lessons and an exercise from the end of the guide.
The language used in this guide is normal, everyday language. It’s the language you’ll hear all the time in conversations. Once you’ve worked through the mini lessons, you’ll begin to notice the language described in them very frequently. I’ve written this guide so that it raises your awareness just enough that it helps to break down barriers and gives you the base you need to continue on your own with more confidence.
Combine your reading of this guide with extensive listening practice, and you’ll make a big difference in your understanding of spoken Québécois French. You can buy and download it immediately to start improving your understanding right away!
Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.