Français and English spoken at VEQ’s Language Exchange Café

Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Newcomers improved their pronunciation and their enunciation skills in both French and in English at the second VEQ Newcomers’ Language Exchange Café.

Some 20 newcomers to Quebec City gathered to enjoy coffee and bilingual games at the Jeffery Hale Pavilion for Voice of English-speaking Québec (VEQ) Newcomers’ Language Exchange Café on October 26.

After moving to Quebec City, newcomers have to learn to communicate mainly in French but, if they are not anglophones to begin with, also in English. For the evening, VEQ newcomers’ activity coordinator Jessica Price had prepared a series of games specific to each language.

“Welcome to our second Language Exchange Café,” said Price. “The goal of tonight is to speak another language.” People become more anxious and shy, when learning a new language, especially when speaking in front of others.

“Everyone makes mistakes, in English and in French. We all have trouble finding words. Don’t be shy about your accent; we all have one,” said Price. “However, accents and definitions of certain words change from one culture and language to the next.”

“We are here to learn and to have fun,” said Price. “Our bilingual volunteers can help in both French and English.” She and her team organized a series of games placed on different tables, half of which were designated as either French or English. Some people had fun sticking to one language, when it was so much easier and more comfortable to stick to the other.

Throughout the evening, people playing Qui suis-je? or Who/What Am I? had to ask “yes” or “no” questions to determine the name of the person and the object or animal written on a Post-it note placed on their back. At other tables, participants had to find the differences between two photos, or verbally direct their partner to create an image with straws.

Newcomers improved their French and their English as they learned about different cultures. Listening to them speak, one comes to realize that certain syllables taken for granted in one language are actually hard to pronounce in a foreign language, with the most evident being the th sounds (voiced and unvoiced) in English and the euil sound in French. As the evening progressed, levels of anxiety and shyness diminished greatly, while levels of pronunciation and enunciation gradually increased.

VEQ is offering a Winds of Change Workshop for Newcomers on Thursday, November 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the Jeffery Hale Pavilion. For more information and to register, visit or call Jessica Price at 418-683-2366 ext. 225.