Where to Learn French in Ottawa

To say that I have been a mournful anglophone most of my life – would be mostly accurate.

In public school there was a strong divide between the English public schools and the French Immersion school. While my school had an excellent music education program (a gift I otherwise would have missed out on and very much defined my youth) … I always resented my parents for choosing not to enroll me in French Immersion when they had the chance (our home was on the border of the two school districts). All my friends from my youth that I am still in constant contact with were French Immersion students. In another life – I would have been with them from the start.

I was drawn to the nation’s capital for university and hoped that maybe by the grace of osmosis I would fall into French fluency. Duolingo, and other apps took up a large portion of my time … but without more exposure and the use of conversational French daily … nothing really changed.

When I started dating my loving Québecois boyfriend, I realized that if I wanted his family to embrace me as a part of their own I would need to amp up my skills, and thus began my search for French second language courses in Ottawa.

I had hoped that I would stumble upon some free weekend library group for language learners … but nothing that came up seemed to be the right fit. Too advanced vs. too basic … it was a Goldilocks conundrum.

Algonquin College offered courses beginning at $383 for 6 weeks of courses, 36 hours of in-class time.

The University of Ottawa offered courses through its Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute – and although this was my alma mater, pricing seemed confusing and outside of where I wanted to be … having already completed two degrees with the university, they’ve got enough money for now 😛

I realized that because my French motivations were more relational than professional development that paying extra for a brand name vested in education wasn’t essential.

It was Reddit of all places that steered me towards Éducation Permanente

It’s affiliation with the French Catholic School Board (plus the lower price tag) helped solidify for me that it would be worth the chance. Had I been able to start sessions a little earlier I could have taken the same course (36 hours in class instruction) for as little as 30 dollars, but because I would be away on vacation and wanted to get the most out of my french language instruction the full course fee was closer to $200.

For me, because my oral communication needs the most strengthening, I chose level 1 to work at my oral pace. The written and grammatical parts are a little more basic, but I am surprised weekly at the new tips and tricks I pick up that I would have otherwise been oblivious to. There were a variety of class options to choose from, but due to work schedules I found that the Saturday class from 9AM – 12PM was the best fit.

Almost halfway through my first level I have found that my teacher is warm, friendly and makes language learning accessible and fun. I am excited to (hopefully, though I’m not worried) pass out of level one in a few weeks and begin level two!

If you are on the hunt to learn French as a 2nd language in Ottawa – there are many options out there, you just need to pick the one that is right for you.

Bonne chance !

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