Newcomers: Free French Classes

By: Alexandre Haslin

In Québec, the official language is French. To facilitate the integration of newcomers who do not speak the language, a francization programme is offered by the Ministère de l’Immigration, Francisation et Intégration du Québec. Free French classes are thus available full time or part time.

Eligibility criteria

You may be eligible for French classes if:

  • You are 16 and over,
  • You were born outside Canada,
  • You live in Québec.

You can choose full time or part time classes.

Full time classes

Full time French classes are available all year. The sessions are 8 to 12 weeks, 5 days per week. The classes are given in establishments chosen by the Ministère de l’Immigration, Francisation et Intégration, such as, universities, cegeps (colleges), community organizations and Francophone school boards.

To register, please fill out the online form.

Part time classes

Sessions for part time French classes are also 8 to 12 weeks. They may be during the day, evening or week-end depending on the establishment in which you register.

To register, you must first choose the establishment and then contact them to find out the procedures. You can find one near you by consulting this map.

Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, classes may be given entirely remotely or remotely with in-person support.

Please note: certain conditions may apply depending on your immigration status. Carefully read the conditions for admission at full time or part time before registering for a class.

Financial aid

Full time or part time French classes are entirely free. In addition, financial aid is available to encourage immigrants to register. Financial assistance includes:

  • an allowance of 200$ per week for full time francization students,
  • an allowance of 25$ per day for part time francization students,
  • a partial refund for childcare costs,
  • help with transportation fees, except in the case of distance learning.

Many criteria apply in order to receive financial aid. Carefully read the criteria at full time or part time.

Francization for those 16 and under

Children less than 16 are not eligible for the francization programmes provided by the Ministère de l’Immigration, Francisation et Intégration du Québec. It is elementary and high schools that are in charge of linguistic integration. Following an assessment of their knowledge of the French language, students are placed in Welcome Classes until they have sufficiently learned French.

Welcome classes have 3 goals:

  • To help newcomers develop their French-speaking skills in order to integrate regular classrooms.
  • To allow foreign students to understand the Québec education system.
  • To instill common social values among young immigrants.

The adjustment period is about one year before integrating a regular classroom. Once a student has sufficiently grasped the French language, he or she can integrate a regular class, even during the year, without having to wait the end of the school year.

In certain school boards, such as the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), the Welcoming service is available all year.

Not all schools have Welcome Classes though. Please check with the school boards to find out which ones do.

Please note that children immigrating from French-speaking countries and have a sufficient grasp of the language do not need to go through Welcome Classes. They can directly integrate regular classrooms.

Mastering French while speaking English

Even if French is Québec’s official language, speaking English is often required by employers in the Greater Montréal area. Knowing English can therefore increase your chances of integrating the job market quicker. As with francization, there are organizations and schools that offer English classes to newcomers.