Maura: Today, we are going to learning English and topic is about English people living in Canada. So, I’m going to interview a good friend of ours named Helen. Say hi.
Maura: She is English originally from Liverpool, in England, and she’s been living in Canada for about 8 years now, and she has spent some time learning French as well, because we’re living in the province of Quebec. And that is actually where we met. Isn’t that right?
Helen: That’s right.
Maura: Yeah. I think it was about 5 or 6 years ago that I was taking a French class with Harp, and we had some other friends who had taken a class with you. Right?
Helen: That’s right.
Maura: And how has your French come along since then? Helen: It’s been about 6 years since I started learning French. And I think in Montreal it can be easy to speak English because not everybody speaks to you in French or answers you in French. My French is pretty good, I would say. You need to keep it up, you need to speak a language every day to improve, to be better at it. But overall it’s good. It’s pretty good.
Maura: Good. Nice. And I know it’s a different experience for people who come from other countries because in Canada, no matter where we are in Canada, when you’re young and you grow up here, you take French classes, so you at least have a basic understanding if you want to learn. But when you came to Quebec, did you have any knowledge of French before?
Helen: In England we have to take French for 6 years in school, in high school, and I forgot most of it by the time I arrived in Canada and then I ended up in Banff, in Alberta, where it’s mostly English speaking, but I made friends with some Quebecois people and just wanted to practice my French a little bit so that kind of gave me a good base before moving to Montreal.
Maura: So you did have a pretty good base when you got here then.
Helen: Yeah, not bad. I found, though, that the French that we learned in England is from France, so it’s a completely different accent. When I first arrived, I couldn’t understand Quebecois at all. I didn’t think it sounded like French. But now that I’ve been here for 7 years, it’s the opposite. I find I can only understand the Quebecois and the French seems completely different.
Maura: I had exactly the same experience. When I was in France and I knew a little bit of French, I could understand the French there and not the French from Canada, and now it’s the same experience.
Helen: That’s it. But now I think that the Quebecois French… It sounds more American in a way, because we’re surrounded by North American culture, so in that way, it’s just easier to pick up, I find. The French accent from France is a little bit harder to pronounce sometimes.