Exploring la belle province
Verb tenses, vocabulary lists, pronunciation drills and worksheets – learning a language in a classroom is a slow and challenging process. After years of language study, French students sometimes wonder whether the effort is worth it.
Hands down, the best part of learning a second language is being able to interact successfully with those who speak that language. So – in mid October, 23 senior French students set out for Montreal to test, refine, and expand their French language skills and immerse themselves in the metropolitan city of Montreal, the second largest French-speaking city in the world.
Montreal is a wonderful place to visit in the fall. We walked the trails in Mont Royal park, skated at the Atrium, enjoyed Montreal smoked meat, and shopped at Simons, Québec’s department store. Our lodging at the Auberge de Jeunesse de Montréal was spare, clean and warm. We breakfasted there and shared devotions at night, packed into one dorm room, or outside in the cold under the stars.
Armed with metro passes, we divided into teams to compete in a Scavenger Hunt Extraordinaire that took us across the city, from Old Montreal, to China Town, to the East End, following directions in French, asking for assistance, and taking pictures. It was a great way to discover the various neighbourhoods of Montreal and the expanse of the underground city.
Two of Montreal’s landmarks are St Joseph’s Oratory and the Notre Dame Basilica. The character of each cathedral is distinct: St. Joseph’s is austere and imposing; Notre Dame is warm and ornate — but both are beautiful and reflective of God’s grandeur and majesty. We visited each quietly and reflected on how different they are compared to our churches at home.
Recording a news broadcast at the Montreal CBC was the highlight of our trip. Following instructions given in French we operated cameras, timed teleprompters, and delivered the news. We left excited and satisfied with our accomplishments.
We had a great experience in Montreal. For four days we spoke a lot of French, listened to even more, gained confidence, and were inspired more than ever to master the French language and to return, very soon, to visit la belle province.
By: Shaun Vos