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BlogIs Learning French in Six Months a Realistic Expectation? E-QIP Teachers and Students Weigh In

Is Learning French in Six Months a Realistic Expectation? E-QIP Teachers and Students Weigh In

Written by Holly on July 7, 2022

When Quebec’s Bill 96 came into effect this past June, one aspect in particular stood out to many E-QIP students and staff members (and likely anyone who has ever learned a language as an adult): the requirement for all immigrants and refugees to learn French within six months of arriving in the province. 

As virtually any adult learner will tell you, learning a new language requires time, patience and dedication. It’s also a process that tends to be far easier when external pressures are kept to a minimum. 

E-QIP French students Aaron and Jesse and teacher Harold were recently interviewed in a segment for Global News, where they each expressed their doubts about this particular clause. 

Reporter Felicia Parrillo notes in the piece that E-QIP teachers estimate that the average student can generally expect to achieve with fluency within eight to 12 months—a figure that’s entirely dependent on how much class time a student can commit to, other distractions that may be at play, which language(s) one already speaks and how similar they are to French, and many other factors. 

We generally advise students that they can expect to have about 120 group lessons under their belts before they reach the high intermediate (i.e., fluent) level. 

As Harold says in the Global News segment, “if you’ve just arrived here, you might take time to cope with the weather, to cope with the new society”—not to mention the pressures of finding or beginning work, helping your family settle in, looking for a place to live and building a new community. 

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Experts disagree about the exact amount of time it takes the average person to become truly comfortable and confident in a new language—enough so to discuss health issues, correspond with your children’s teachers or complete a job interview—but there’s no question that those who can do so in under six months are the exception, not the rule

With French teachers and students making up the vast majority of our staff and student body, respectively, sharing our passion for the French language is integral to what we do at E-QIP, and we hope to continue to do so in a way that’s more engaging than taxing, and more inspiring than demoralising. 

That’s why we place an emphasis on empowering our students to continuously improve, rather than setting them up to fail by asking them to aim for perfection. After all, it takes decades to truly “master” a language—even for native speakers! 

Parrillo perhaps put it best when she stated in her piece that “all of the students and teachers we spoke to here [at E-QIP] agree that French in Quebec should be preserved and promoted—they say they simply wish the government would translate that message to them in a more welcoming way.” 

Got questions about what Bill 96 means for you? Send us an email at hello [at] clc-canada [dot] com and we’ll be happy to answer where we can, or point you in the direction of the appropriate information!

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