5 tips to help you improve the quality of your French for everyday life and the business world
It takes courage, an open mind and resilience to move to a different country, especially when you don't speak the local language. I know exactly what I’m talking about because I had to go through it myself when I arrived in Quebec. I quickly realized that I needed to become fluent in French if I wanted to get a manager position, like the one I had in my country.
Here are some tips that have helped me along the way.
1 – Use the applications and tools available online
Over the last few years, I have seen more and more Web tools for learning French. Nowadays, these tools are readily accessible to professionals who arrive in Quebec, such as the French exercise bank, the online francization service (FEL) or the resources available on the website of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
2 – Immerse yourself in the local culture
This tip is both fun and effective. Develop your French skills by discovering local literature and music: Listen to Quebec podcasts and find radio and television programs that interest you or grab your attention. That way, you won’t even notice that you’re learning!
3 – Continue your training in French
Even though you may have extensive experience in your field of work, be aware that business language varies greatly from one country to another. Becoming fluent in the language has a huge impact on your credibility with colleagues and clients. That is why, when I arrived in Quebec, I came up with a plan to improve the quality of my third language, which I considered a key factor in entering the job market. For example, you might decide to take a technical or university course that will teach you specialized vocabulary and will look good on your CV to a potential employer. Mastering commonly used expressions and terms can also set you apart during a job interview.
4 – Build your network
There’s nothing like socializing in French to improve your knowledge of the language. If your basic French is still weak, one good tip is to find a "menial job" in customer service, such as at a store or a restaurant. Not only will you make some money, but you will get many opportunities to practice the language. Basically, this is a good solution if you want to strengthen your communication skills and keep in contact with the local culture. Another effective way to build your network is through volunteering. The important thing is not to withdraw into your cultural community, but rather to broaden your horizons. This can be particularly hard to do when you immigrate as a couple, because French very rarely replaces the mother tongue at home. That is why it is all the more valuable to have a solid network of francophone acquaintances, colleagues and friends.
5 – Own your difference
The last tip is in my opinion the most important: Own your accent and other differences that make you a unique person. Don’t be embarrassed to express yourself or make grammatical errors… Be proud of who you are and your difference! The important thing is to keep going, because you have to respect your natural learning pace. Constructive comments from those around you will also help you reach your goals.
About the author
A manager at Revenu Québec since 2015, Mauricio Molinete is a member of the Ordre des administrateurs agréés du Québec (OAAQ) and is currently in the process of obtaining his training equivalence to become a Chartered Professional Accountant. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics with a major in economic engineering and financial markets and a master’s in project management. Mauricio Molinete volunteers as a mentor for newly arrived immigrants at the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and the FRJ. He helped prepare the OAAQ’s "toolkit" for managers who have immigrated to Quebec. In 2018 and 2019, he was also a guest speaker at the Quebec Immigration and Integration Fair. Mauricio Molinete is also a member of the Board of Perspective Carrière, a NPO whose mission is the successful integration of migrant workers in Quebec.