Home » Uncategorized » Another way to practice your French – Gov’t call centres (#345)

Another way to practice your French – Gov’t call centres (#345)

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As I stated a couple of times, I have been super busy with work projects, which makes it so I haven’t had as much time as I would like to write daily blog posts.   Thus this will be another “short” one.

Considering that the majority of the readers of this blog are Anglophones all across Canada, I think I found another way you may be able to practice your French.

I currently have a work project which is requiring me to ask a LOT of questions to both the Ontario and Federal governments.  I’m placing a good number of phone calls to the governments (particularly the Ontario government), and I am asking some very complex questions regarding numerous complicated issues.


A while back, when I phoned the government of Ontario, I was tired of being placed on hold (although I have to say that I think the Ontario government’s call-centres seem to be a lot faster than other provinces I have dealt with).   Being a guy who sometimes doesn’t have infinite amount of patience (isn’t that most guys? – lol), a long time ago I hung up the “English” phone line, and I dialed Ontario’s “French” phone line.

Perhaps one of the only reasons I had not phoned the “French” number prior was because I thought the wait would be even longer for very complex questions (ie: I would have be transferred, then transferred, then transferred, then told someone would call me back).

But guess what happened… I began to receive fast phone pick-ups, and extremely polite service (like the kind when you sense the person on the other end of the line is smiling as they’re talking to you over the phone).  Better yet (and most important for me), I was receiving high quality, extremely detailed answers to my very complex questions.

I was actually floored.   The French line actually seemed more knowledgeable in many instances than the English line


Question:  I asked “I’m purchasing a new fork-lift, and I was told that the embossed safety-specs plate standards have changed.  What are the new inspection rules and frequency for such a change?”

Answer:  00:00 Called.   02:00 Phone answers and I ask my question (in French).   02:50.  Transferred to a different department and placed on hold.    4:10 Another person answers and repeats my question back to me to ensure that they understood the question.   I’m put back on hold.   4:50 the person comes back and I am given all the correct information – again, all in French.

Bing, Bang, Boom… Beautiful.

And this was just one of my MANY phone calls to the Ontario government in French.

I now use the French lines for everything (business accounting questions, car insurance, health services, everything touching the Ontario government)… and the services are “impec” each and every time..

What’s great about this is that even if you do not live in areas of the country where you have regular interactions with Francophones, you still can do this with the Federal government (you can also do this in Manitoba, Yukon, the NWT and New Brunswick).

Even in Alberta, there are “informal” government funded portals (service front-shops, as I like to call them), with which there are ways to get information in French (I wrote earlier blog posts in which I mentioned how Alberta often offers more than what they are legally bound to offer – more as a gesture than anything, but one which unfortunately is overlooked by people wishing to score political points, or who have never even set foot in Alberta – Sigh x 10).

What I found particularly interesting about doing this (just my own observations… not that it would make a difference to you)… was that I hear the full range of Ontario French accents in the process.  But I also interact with a good number of Anglophones in French as well (which is great… and we’re seeing more and more Anglophones offering and wanting to offer services in French – again, all with that friendly phone smile).

Anyway, in the end, the people on the other end of the phone aren’t the only one bearings phone smiles.

Hopefully this offers you another “in” for practicing your French.  Keep up the good work folks… We’re making progress!


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