MONTREAL - Hundreds of English high school students embraced Quebecois culture and the French language Wednesday by attending an event meant to help them integrate into Francophone Quebec society.

Sponsored by the English Montreal School Board, some 450 students packed into the auditorium at CEGEP Andre Laurendeau in Lasalle for a forum called French for the Future.

At the annual event promoting bilingualism, students are encouraged to use their French, no matter how shy they may be.

"Growing up as an Anglophone in Montreal, often we have complexes about our accents or we're worried we're going to sound stupid, or just the politics surrounds us in general. This is a day just to have fun," said event coordinator Alyssa Kuzmarov.

The Lasalle-area CEGEP is a French school that actively recruits English students and encourages them to speak the language.

"We offer a lot of services. We give Anglophone students a lot of support. Generally they do struggle, but in the end they do improve a great deal," said Marline Pelivanian.

Christina Napisa can relate. As a student who had an entirely English education, she chose to go to CEGEP in French.

"It's hard obviously, because French is not my first language, but I don't regret it. I like what I'm learning, because it's not stuff only in the class it's also outside of the class," she said.

Anglo comedian Mike Ward performed in French for the crowd, and said that promoting and protecting any language is easier when the choice is offered.

"I did bilingual shows in Dubai and for the army in Germany and Afghanistan. If I didn't speak French, I probably would have just worked in Canada and the states," he said.