“It’s the official language”: determined to learn French to welcome her customers

Not speaking a word of French when she arrived in the metropolis, a waitress of Mexican origin who found it unthinkable not to speak “the language of Montreal” took advantage of a free francization program to learn it directly at her place of work. work.

Every Wednesday morning, Brenda Barrera Rodriguez walks through the door of the restaurant where she works on Mont-Royal Avenue at 9 a.m., and it’s not to start preparing the room before her shift.

For an hour, the 28-year-old young woman will instead learn the language of Molière with the help of a private teacher who goes directly to her workplace: an alternative to classroom lessons which conflict with her work schedule. full time job.

“We look at all the things that are interesting to me and that I would like to learn. It adapts to my needs,” she explained in fluent French.

AUDREY SANIKOPOULOS / QMI AGENCY

In addition to the young woman, two cooks from the establishment, also of Hispanic origin, are currently following the same program.

Encourage the use of French

Brenda Barrera Rodriguez takes advantage of the “Dialogue – Learn French” program set up by the Association of Business Development Companies of Montreal (ASDCM), in partnership with the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, to encourage the use of French in restaurants of the metropolis.

Funded by the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration, this free initiative for participating businesses is intended for employees who have limited command of the language.

“I’m really happy to be part of this program because it’s very accessible and practical,” admitted the waitress at Twisted Burger, a restaurant chain. For me, it’s really hard to go to school because I work all day.”

For the restaurant manager and spouse of Mme Barrera Rodriguez, Alejandro Velazquez, it was unimaginable that his employees would not greet customers in French when they entered his business.

“I always encourage people to learn French. It’s obvious that in Quebec, we really need to know the language,” said the man who arrived from Mexico almost 20 years ago.


AUDREY SANIKOPOULOS / QMI AGENCY

Like its employees, 145 people working in nearly 70 Montreal restaurants benefit from this face-to-face French training.

Easier for integration

The one who has now obtained her permanent residence first came to Montreal in 2018 during a university internship. She chose to make it her home two years later after finding love.

In her eyes, it was important to learn French “because it is the language of Montreal,” she added. Also for the culture and to understand the way of living here, I think it’s good to learn the official language.”

After a year of classes, Brenda Barrera Rodriguez admitted that she still tries to speak French, even when she is not working.

“It’s not easy, but we continue to learn,” admitted Mr. Velazquez for his part.

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