Make French Your Own!

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By Mary Clements

It’s your resident Les Petites Pommes writer, Juana here with more tales from teaching and French learning!

Once I had a student tell me that they didn’t like their accent because it was different from mine. I learnt European French in university while growing up in Columbia, so my accent is very different from what a Canadian may sound like. But that doesn’t mean that it’s better or worse. In fact, French is spoken all over the world and has a wide variety of accents!

I  understood my student’s feelings. When I first came to Canada I was afraid people would make fun of my English. But then, I discovered that people come from so many different backgrounds, and there’s a kaleidoscope of accents!

It is important to remember that having a different accent doesn’t mean you speak the language wrong! Your accent is a part of your identity, of your background, it adds a new perspective, a new ingredient to the wonderful mix that is Canadian culture.

This week I invited Cynthia, who is our Online Summer Camp teacher, to share her experience of being a native French speaker growing up in Ontario, and what French represents in her identity as a Canadian. Here are some of the highlights that she shared with me:

How did you learn French?
I was born in Québec, so actually French was my first language. I knew French even before English! We moved to Ontario when I was 9 years old, and I attended a French school in Aurora.

Was it difficult for you to adapt when you moved? Did you ever feel different for speaking French?
I had a different accent than the rest of my peers, because French in Ontario is a bit different from the one in Québec, and I got made fun of because of it. I ended up modifying my accent to mimic the one in Ontario. For a long time I felt like my accent didn’t belong anywhere ! I always felt different from my peers. Now, as I am older, I feel happy to embrace it.

What are some of the main differences between French in Quebec and in provinces like Ontario?
In Quebec you pronounce words with a more “francophone” accent while in Ontario you can tell the influence of English is stronger. But what’s funny is that we both use a mixture of words in English and French in everyday conversation.

Why do you think Canadian French is not as widely known as European French?
There is definitely a belief that European French is “better” than Canadian French. But I think this happens because people compare the slang in Quebec to the French that we learn from the books. And it’s just not a fair comparison. They’re just different! The French that we speak and teach here in Canada is just as good as in any other francophone country.

What advice would you give to students and learners of French at Les Petites Pommes?
Don’t be afraid to make it your own! Have fun with it! French is not a language reserved for people in Europe or in Quebec. French is for everybody! It is a tool for communicating with others.  Each person who learns it and adds their own unique flavour makes it even more special.

Want to prepare your children for La rentrée de classes? Our August Learning Circle will focus on back to school basics! Sign your kids up for all they need to know before school starts.

Looking for a more lengthy program over the summer, join us for In-person Summer Camp in Hamilton or Online Summer Camp with Cynthia from anywhere in Canada and the world!