Although of French origin, many more Montrealers speak English.
Several hundred thousand Montrealers who’s mother tongue is English, the majority of Montrealers have a working knowledge of English.
I grew up in the West-Island of Montreal, which back in the day was predominantly english (my neighbourhood was well over 90% english).
However, after the Anglo exodus (roughly 1 million anglos moved out of Quebec, primarily to Ontario) caused by the election of the Parti Quebecois in 1976, a Quebec separatist party, along with the ensuing seperatist référendums and increasing language tensions, I’d say that Montreal’s West-Islamd is now down to roughly 50% english
Montreal has a thriving English Community
Although it’s considerably smaller than it once was, but still with several boroughs that have remained predominantly English speaking.
There are English newspapers, English TV stations, English school boards, English hospitals, etc. In addition to the English community, hundreds of thousands of Montrealers from other communities are also fluent in English, and as I stated previously, I would say that most Montrealers have a working knowledge of English.
In 2001 there were 424 thousand Montrealers who’s mother tongue was english, 886 thousand who spoke it at home (I’d be in this category), and just over 2 million Montrealers with a knowledge of English out of a total Greater Montréal population of 2.8 million, so this pretty much supports my impressions as described above.
The population of a Greater Montréal passed 4 million in 2016, so there are now probably close to 3 million Montrealers whit a working knowledge of English, with around 1 million who speak it at home.
Is it rude to speak English in Montreal?
Not at all. In the downtown business district, I hear English spoken more than French. If you are speaking to a stranger, say sales staff in a store, they are likely to be bilingual and will respond in the language in which you spoke to them.
If they don’t speak English, they would most likely call in another staff member who does.
If anyone considers it rude, that’s their problem, not yours, unless you are kicking up a fuss. THAT would be rude.
It’s a bilingual city in a bilingual country.
How is life in Montreal without speaking French?
Living in Montreal and not speaking French can be just fine is you are living on the Westside of the City.
There are many people are the Eastside who speak little to no English, whatsoever!
I wouldn’t recommend someone moving into an all French community unless they are really passionate to want to the language.
Anglophones in Montreal who never learned French and are not interested in learning and vis-versa French people being unilinguals, it’s unfortunate for them.
They are limited to what they can access because of language barriers. Language is like crossing a bridge, and when on the other side one is able to experience a whole new World.
How do I find English speaking jobs in Montreal if I don’t speak French?
It’s not very difficult. There are plenty of job opportunities in Montreal since unemployment is very low.
If you are immigrating from an other country, you can get French courses for free.
Knowing French is a definitive asset in Quebec because it is the official language of the province and the law forbids any employer to require the use of any other language unless he can prove the job require speaking that other language (usually English).
But this is not a big obstacle.
Few employers know the law and many ask for bilinguism automatically to cover all possibilities. But when they don’t find someone to fill a job they will hire you even if you don’t speak French.
Some businesses must close a few days because there are no one to hire. So just tell them you are eager to learn French, and that should get you the job.
Montreal is a great multicultural city filled with culture and great eats. Yes, most people speak English and whether you are stopping by to explore all it has to offer, or moving in for school or work – you will have access to both English and French speakers.