1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. French vs Canadian French


French vs Canadian French

I am doing the French tree. I am Canadian, and work for the Government, so my main goal is to become fluent in Canadian French so as to further my career path. My intention, once I some day fight my way through the French Duolingo tree, is to begin reading some French Canadian articles, books, and watching French Canadian TV.

Is the Duolingo French tree going to introduce habits from France French that do not translate to Canadian French? I suspect that, like someone learning British English, then going to Australia, I will be at least able to communicate, even if I never touched Canadian French. That said, I have heard from some people that Canadian French diverges from European French pretty dramatically.

Any experiences from other Canadians or people communicate with French Canadians?

September 5, 2016



If French is not your native language, and you make an honest effort to speak (any) French with French Canadians, no matter your accent, the expressions you use, your mistakes, or your difficulties understanding people who speak too fast, they will really appreciate your attitude and your effort, even more so if you don't judge them based on unfortunate stereotypes, or try to correct them because what they said is different than what you learned in a book.

If this small disconnect happens, just ask them why they say something differently than from what you learned, and you will probably get a good laugh with them trying to explain their own slang.

Your best bet to better your understanding of the French Canadian accent is to watch a few Radio-Canada shows originally filmed in French, either on TV or online here: http://ici.tou.tv/ (I believe most of their shows have subtitles too, that's tremendous help as well).


My experience is that there's not much difference between standard French and Canadian French. The main thing I've encountered is some French Canadians have a very different accent, so that even if I understand the words they're saying I have to listen very closely. French Canadians also use different words for some things, much like people in England use different words than Americans to describe things. But the difference in my experience aren't that significant. I do find Canadian French to be more informal I guess. For example, I don't think I've ever heard a French Canadian use "oui", even in formal situations. I've only ever heard "ouais".


I learned my French in the streets of Paris. I found that the French around Quebec city is easy enough to understand...their accent is quite posh. However there are areas around Montreal that are almost incomprehensible at first listen. It reminded me of the Brits of Hull, or the Frenchmen of Dijon, whose accents include eliminating consonants and mutating vowels beyond recognition.

In that area, folks say, "Je m'en va" instead of "Je m'en vais," tantamount to the Brooklyner who says, "So I says to him, I says, wachoodoin'?" That's just bad French that would drive the purist batty.

I've worked on learning the québecois accent...it's a fun challenge. As far as the French taught, the Québecois stick more closely to l'Académie Française in their instruction than the Swiss or the Belges. Seventy is still soixante-dix.


You must be right about this "posh" accent in Quebec. Today I was looking for some music in French and I immediately recognised a Canadian accent of the singers from Montreal, even when the words were sung, not spoken. Then I liked some songs of a guy, who I thought was French, because his accent was very "standard". I'd started to watch his other videos and on one of them before singing he said a few words in native-like English, which surprised me a lot. I checked out an article about him on wikipedia and he was from Quebec. But judging by the accent (at least while singing) I would never have thought that he was Canadian.


It depends on what you mean by "Canadian French." There are a few dialects. I'm headed to Montreal in April, so I'm currently taking a Quebecois French course on Memrise. It's pretty much a waste of my time, I could've basically Googled it. But it never hurts to practice, and I do want to say one thing in Quebecois French.

The French course has maybe one or two sentences where Quebecois French is used, there are always complaints about translations not being accepted.

Here's all the varieties: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_French

Here's Quebecois: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_French

I've also heard that most Canadians will attempt to tone down their accent, as they are excited enough you're speaking French, but I'll never know until I get up there.


I think you'll be okay. I'm a french person living among canadian frenchs, and even though their slang is pretty different from ours, we manage to understand each-others without problems. However, you might consider watching some québecois tv or videos, to get used to the accent. This is the one thing I had trouble with when I got to Québec.


The writing standards of Canadian and French French are pretty much the same, speaking is also almost the same except for the accent and a few different words. As long as you don't need to understand slang and rural dialects, you'll understand what people are talking to you and will read without difficulty in both versions. However, for watching movies, TV news, understanding Canadian French natives talking to each other (which is harder, because when talking to someone not being native people usually speak slower and use simpler sentences) , you'll need a bit of additional training with listening to Canadian French accent.


I live in Montreal (I've been using Duo to improve on and keep up my French) and there is really no issue with people understanding any type of French. I've actually found that it goes the other way: people from France (especially Paris) sometimes struggle to understand québécois.

There are some accents that are very tricky- the really working class one from around Montréal, the eastern Canadian Acadian accent, etc- but a lot of the french québécois I know struggle with those too.

Duolingo will be just fine for Canadian government work. If you want to get some extra work, just listen to the RDI (Radio Canada) news broadcast.


From what I understand the Acadian French spoken on the French Shore of Nova Scotia is absolutely brutal for even native French speakers.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.