Quebec/Montreal language etiquette?
I will be moving to Montreal in a few months and plan on visiting the city next week. I know that many people in the city are fluent in English, so I won't have any trouble getting around. But, I don't want to immediately speak English to everyone and come off as an ignorant tourist assuming everyone can understand me.
So, my question is this: What is the best/most polite way to start conversing in English when in Quebec/Montreal? Obviously I'll try my best to practice and use my French, but admittedly it is still not very good.
Are there certain ways to ask that would come off as more polite, or is the standard "parlez-vous anglais" sufficient? To me that seems too blunt and assuming.
If you guys have any other tips/phrases to help me (and others) get around, that would be awesome! Merci beaucoup!
Honestly in my experience Montreal is incredibly bilingual. Like I know it's common to say oh you'll be fine they speak English there anyway about a lot of places but there are tons of people who have lived their their whole life in the city only know rudimentary French, places to work that require no French and schools where children can grow up only speaking English. So basically it's not just the tourists that are only speaking English and they're pretty used to it. The only problems I've ever heard about and not even experienced myself comes older generations who can be a bit stuck in their ways but that's just what they grew up with presumably.
I'm not saying it's not great that you're being sensitive about this. It is and that's something more people could learn... it's just in this case I wouldn't worry too much about being rude over something that's pretty normal like that. What I do think you could do is just be open about your interest in learning the language. People are pretty receptive and appreciative of that and I'm sure you'll find lots of people willing to help.
Presumably it isn't greatly different to most other places: people like it when you at least attempt to speak their language, even if you are laughably bad at it - the important thing is that you're making the effort, which is a compliment to them.
So if the people around you are speaking French, start in French. You'll either manage it (and it's surprising how far you can make very little French stretch if you are sufficiently determined, and inventive in how you express yourself) or they'll spontaneously rescue you by switching to English (if they speak it themselves).
Otherwise, in French "I'm sorry, I only speak a little French - do you speak English?" would probably be a good alternative once even inventive use of language won't get you any further.
("Je suis desolee; je ne parle pas tres bien francais. Parlez-vous anglais?" Or something like that....)
Bonjour! If you are in a place where people speak French, It's a good thing to start in French, even it is not perfect. Eventually people will answer in English , or not. I recently noticed that it was better to start in the language spoken on place, instead of the usual "do you speak english ?" I went to Portugal this year for a 2weeks vacation, after 2 months of Duolingo. In the street, I managed to have short conversations in Portuguese with local people, asking for my way, or in the shops. Well, it was better for me to laugh,-of myself-, because sometimes I was asked" parlez-vous Français ?"(or English). Of course, people are more friendly and willing to help you if you try to speak their own language. It makes a difference. By the way , the first time I went to Montreal -it was only for 24h- I did not find anyone on my way to speak French. The taxi from the airport, at the hotel, a guided tour (I was obliged to follow in English). But by now I know better Montreal and I like to speak French with my "cousins" with their funny accent! Donc, bon séjour à Montréal!
Something I discovered when visiting Montreal is that there are English neighborhoods and French neighborhoods. Sometimes, walking just a single block made a huge difference to the linguistic environment. If you can, ask a native to outline for you which areas are inhabited or visited primarily by English speakers. In those places, you can simply speak English, and perhaps even SHOULD speak English because many of the people you encounter will know less French than you.
As for how to approach people who are native French speakers, I suggest attempting to converse in French. People who know English and are kind will quickly take pity on you and switch to English.