beautiful view of montreal

Learn French in Montreal: Top 9 Programs for All Levels

The “city of festivals,” Montreal, is where the party never stops.

Learning French in Montreal makes learning French more fun than it’s ever been.

In this post, we’re going to look at schools, language centers and other resources for studying French in this bustling bilingual metropolis. You’ll also find out exactly what makes Montreal such an ideal place to study French, plus key things about how the language is spoken there.


Universities in Montreal with French Classes 

1. Best for Diverse Programs: McGill University

mcgill university logoA large university with more than 30,000 grad and undergrad students, McGill was also listed by QS as one of the top universities in Canada, and #30 in the ranking of best universities worldwide. McGill offers three different programs for student exchanges: incoming (yearlong) exchange, short program opportunities and research traineeship.

While most of the courses at McGill are in English, the university offers many opportunities for students to study French as well as French-language literature, including some that are open to non-students.

2. Best for Online Resources: Concordia University

concordia university logoAnother big Montreal university, Concordia is popular for incoming exchanges, inviting students from abroad to study at Concordia for the academic year. Like McGill, Concordia mostly offers courses in English, but has many options for French studies.

For more information on how to apply for an exchange, visit the Student Exchange Program page on the International tab on the website.

3. Best for Adults: Université de Montréal

universite de montreal logoThe University of Montreal (U of M) is the largest university in Montreal, with more than 60,000 grads and undergraduates enrolled. Their student exchange program has some nuances, so it’s best to check the program specifications.

Courses here are offered completely in French, and therefore your French language learning would certainly be more accelerated, regardless of what subjects you’re studying!

4. Best for Immersion: Université du Québec à Montréal

At the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), courses are also offered completely in French, and UQAM offers different exchange options, including bilateral exchanges—a dual degree program.

National Student Exchanges (NSE) are available to U.S. or Canadian students whose current university is registered as an NSE member.

French Language Schools in Montreal

the french school logo 5. Best for Fun Classes: The French School

The French School offers an intensive 60-hour French course split up into 20 classes. Ideal for beginners or re-beginners, it focuses on a combination of written and verbal teaching to help you best apply French in an everyday context.

6. Best for Specialized Classes: YMCA International Language School

ymca international language school logo The YMCA of Montreal offers a tremendous array of French (and other!) language courses running either in the day or evening or your choice of one or the other. Courses are ideal for any age and level of language knowledge, and range from focuses such as conversation to business French or test prep courses.

They also offer gap year programs, private classes and college preparatory programs for those wanting to attend a French-speaking University in Quebec or Montreal. Grouille-toé ! Depeche-toi ! (Hurry up!)

7. Best for Professionals: Business French Summer School

hec montreal logoThis 4-week intensive summer program is targeted towards those who are seeking to develop knowledge of French for the purpose of business. Participants, who must be at least 18 years of age, receive three language credits, work in small groups and focus on learning from seminars and interactive oral communication workshops. The program also offers optional evening activities with French guides.

8. Best for Montreal Residents: Centre Saint-Louis

centre saint louis logo Geared towards Canadians by birth, Canadian citizens, permanent residents (like university students), refugee claimants, refugees and holders of some work permits, Centre Saint-Louis is a great option for those who already live in Montreal and want to learn more French. Participants must be at least 16 years of age, and present proper documents.

The program fees are minimal for eight different levels of courses, which each take eight weeks to complete.

9. Best for Conversational Classes: NUMA Institute

numa institute logo Offering language courses in more than just French, NUMA Institute has a variety of programs to fit your French language learning desires. Full-time, part-time and private or online language programs are offered, as well as a “Tea-Time” incorporated into the program curriculum.

The Pre-immigration course offers French language preparation and cultural learning opportunities for those moving to Montreal. Language courses cater to all levels of experience.

For more online French lessons that you can take while in Montreal (or anywhere), there’s also FluentU.  

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Additional French Programs for Immigrants

French is the official language of Quebec, which includes Montreal, so knowing French is often a requirement for becoming a permanent resident or citizen in Quebec. For example, economic immigrants need to prove that they have at least intermediate-level French. 

Because of this, the Quebec government offers plenty of programs for learning French if you already live there. The MIFI (Ministère de l’Immigration, Francisation et Intégration) offers part-time classes through different schools, community organizations and language centers. For example, you can look up free classes here.

Another option is to register through their website for full-time classes, which run for five to six hours per day. Conveniently, there are online classes too!

Why Learn French in Montreal?

night view of montreal

Montreal is ranked as one of the best student cities.

C’est vrai! (It’s true!) Montreal is in the top 20 best cities in which to study, according to the 2024 Best Student City annual rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). Montreal sits at #13!

Four of Montreal’s universities were found in the World University Rankings in 2024, also composed by QS. There are more than 170,000 full-time enrolled students in the greater Montreal area.

Still skeptical as to why you should absolutely be learning French in Montreal? OK, read on!

Montreal is the best city for French students.

Not only is Montreal the number one best city for students, but it naturally follows that also being the second-largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, it’s the best city for students learning French.

Learning French in Montreal is, debatably, on par with learning in Paris. Debatably because Montréalais (Montrealers) just seem to excel at embracing celebration and learning.

If you’re American or Canadian, it’s close and convenient.

The city of Montreal, being situated just north of the northern border of the state of Vermont, is also a convenient place to learn French for those already living nearby. Although learning French in France is great, too, staying on the same continent is that much more economical. The Montreal International Airport is also a busy hub for the region.

But perhaps you want to make a road trip of your French learning experience. Download some of your French learning podcasts and Francophone tunes and take to the open road!

There’s plenty of diversity of language and background.

As a result of the history of the city of Montreal and the surrounding region, Montreal is very diverse. Montreal served as a primary commercial center in the fur trade in the 18th century, and following, was under dispute between England and France. Therefore, the city has both English and French roots, as well as the indigenous influence of the Iroquois Native Americans who first called the province of Quebec home.

According to the World Population Review, Montreal’s population is composed primarily of European ancestries, but 31% of the population is of other origins—including African American, Latin American, Arab, South Asian and Chinese.

Of the entire population, 57% speak Quebecois French, 18.5% speak English and 20% speak other languages in the home. 56% of Montreal’s population is French-English bilingual. (But speak your French before you default to English!)

You’ll find many opportunities for cultural learning.

What’s more, my fearless French learner, is Montreal is jam-packed with cultural learning and public spaces in which to boost your language learning. Check out:

French in Montreal vs. Metropolitan French

Accent and Tone

The most apparent differences between Quebecois French (the type of French spoken in Montreal) and Metropolitan France (the French spoken in France) are audible. Spoken, the French of les Montréalais (Montrealers) sounds like it comes even more from the throat than the French of les français (the French). This is most noticeable in the pronunciation of vowels especially, with some being more open/close and/or short/long compared to Metropolitan French.

Listen to the Montreal French accent in this short conversation.


Although vocabulary in Montreal differs minimally, those words that do differ are certainly helpful to know. Similar to the slang verlan that exists in France,  joual is the (traditionally pejorative) name for slang-type French in Quebec. A few examples of differences in French vocabulary (with Quebecois first and Metropolitan second) include:

  • traditional French words that the French don’t use, like arrêt stop  (stop [sign])

Syntax and More

Syntax—the way a sentence is formed—can become very technical, but there are some common themes in Quebecois French as compared to Metropolitan French.

The manner in which certain words are constructed with liaisons (contractions) differs rather significantly, meaning that Montrealers generally insert more liaisons than the French.

Here are a few more examples of differences between Quebecois French and Metropolitan French.


Regardless of whether you choose to do an exchange at a Montreal university or enroll in a French language program, you’ll learn plenty of French in Montreal.

This is because you’ll be fully immersed in the language there, no excuses!

Immersion is the ultimate way to quickly learn a language. While it’s most easily done when you’re in a country, it can also be done anywhere else, even right at your home. It’s recommended that before you go abroad, you should see what language immersion would entail so you know what to expect.

You could switch the language of your devices to French, commit to reading only French books and websites or watch an entire TV series in French.

Think of these methods as mini-immersions that fit easily with your daily life. They can be great preparation for when you actually make the trip to Montreal, where the immersion would be intensive and 24/7.

Even if you choose to go to Montreal for a weekend and all you do is sit at a café for hours eating poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds—amazing!), you’ll still be learning French!

Just maybe don’t have more than two plates of poutine in one sitting, han?! (Okay?!)

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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