Although Toronto is primarily an English-speaking city, it is valuable to learn French. Both English and French are official languages in Canada, so there are a lot of benefits to being bilingual. More job opportunities, exposure to additional culture, more friends and more fun!
Since most immigrants speak at least one language other than English, being able to speak French makes us multilingual. Sounds cool? It is cool!
Then, where do I learn French?
If you plan to get a diploma or certificate, you can easily find courses in nearly all universities and colleges in Toronto. If you just want to take some French refresh courses or increase your level, check the continuing education center of any university or college, or choose any French learning school. There are quite a few private language learning institutes and individual tutors available. You can easily find them using Google.
Are there any free French classes in Toronto?
YES, of course. There are several community and LINC centers that offer free French classes. If you are a beginner, check with a consultant or counsellor at any immigrant serving agency and you will get the information. If you already know French, have your French level tested at the YMCA Downtown Toronto Center. Based on your exam results, the examiner may refer you to free French programs.
Take myself as an example. In 2014 I was evaluated as level 5 to 6. So my examiner recommended two locations. One is Toronto Catholic District School Board at the Eglinton LINC/ESL Centre. The other one is A Taste of French program offered by WoodGreen Community Services. Having tried both, the difference is that in the LINC Center, it is competitive to register, and it has strict rules to follow. For instance, if you miss three classes you will fail and have to leave, and you are only eligible to register for one free FSL (Frech as Second Language) class at a time. While with A Taste of French, with WoodGreen’s Community Connections Program, you are welcome to drop in anytime you like and it doesn’t conflict with other French courses you take. The teaching method is more flexible with A Taste of French, while in the LINC Center there’s a course outline to follow.
In addition to what I have mentioned above, Toronto libraries also offers French classes, book clubs and movies for both adults and kids. Check with your local library and you can get the schedule for your interested French learning sessions immediately.
Where do I practice speaking French and meet other French speakers?
I have discovered some excellent ways to practice French and meet bilingual friends.
Register with Meetup.com and search the keyword “French”. You will see a bunch of groups and lots of activities every week for French learning persons like you and most of them are free to attend. I, myself am a big fan of the North York French Language Meetup “On Bavade”. If you go there you’ll probably see me. And I also like to go to Le French Meetup de Toronto. If you are a beginner that is shy to speak, but still want to mingle and enjoy Francophone culture, L’Apero Chic organizes parties for both English and French speakers, but there’s usually a ticket to buy in advance.
Check out the website of L’ Alliance Française. The free French movie on Thursday nights are just amazing. Besides, they organize cultural events, arts exhibitions and concerts, where you will meet exciting francophone artists!
Pay attention to the annual events of Franco-Fête de Toronto. I have participated in several wonderful free concerts last summer. All in French!
What if I want to learn French by myself?
If you want to use some resource to help you self-learning, you must try TV5.ca. Scroll down and find the category Apprendre le français which has interesting music exercies and other history or cultural quizzes with options for difficulty levels. A perfect site for self-learner.
Every morning I will wake myself up with La Radio Canada. It provides news, TV, and radio in French. If you want to train yourself, use it. There is also a free local newspaper called Le Métropolitain that you can either take for free in French learning schools, such as L’AF, Glendon College, or read online.
Where do YOU practice your French?? Leave me a note in the comments section.
Bon courage mes amis!
Guest Blogger, Elaine Li