Trilingualism on the rise

Trilingualism on the rise

Park-Extension residents have long been multilingual and according to the most recent data from the 2021 census from Statistics Canada, 23.7% of the population speaks at least three languages ​​in Montreal. This is a significant increase from the 2016 census, where this percentage was 21.1%. In 2001, the first year for which these data are available, it was 16%.

Such high trilingualism makes Montreal a unique city in Canada and probably in North America, according to the CEO of Montreal International, Stéphane Paquet.

“For us, he says, it’s part of what distinguishes Montreal from the rest of Canada, from the rest of America. Then, it’s part of who we are and the advantages for companies, for individuals, for international organizations to choose Montreal instead of choosing another city. The UN agency UN-Habitat, which chose to settle in Montreal, in particular because French is spoken there. “It is definitely a plus for us who are trying to attract individuals, companies and international organizations.”

“Anyone can land in North America, outside Quebec, and keep their mother tongue and learn English,” explains Mr. Paquet, of Montreal International. In Quebec, as the host society is French-speaking, the person who arrives here will also learn French.

Montreal is officially a French-speaking city whose common public language governed by language laws is French but, in fact, it is a bilingual city because of the historical presence of the two communities, French and English.

According to the last census, the proportion of the population able to conduct a conversation in two or more languages, whether official or unofficial, was 69.8% in Montreal, 56.1% in Toronto and 53.1 % in Vancouver.

“More specifically, the French-English bilingualism rate was 56.4% in Montreal, 7.4% in Toronto and 6.5% in Vancouver according to the 2021 census,” notes Étienne Lemyre, analyst at Statistics Canada. .

Among immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2021 who reside in Montreal, 85.6% could conduct a conversation in two or more languages, official or non-official, and 43.3% spoke French and English.