Skip to main content

Montreal South Shore grocery store gets creative in helping employees learn French


A grocery store on Montreal's South Shore is struggling to find employees who speak French.

The store has hired dozens of people who've only recently arrived in Quebec, and came up with a creative way to help them learn on the job.

Oscar Lion works at the Boucherville Provigo and is one of the hardest-working employees in the store.

His managers say he's efficient and reliable but is fighting a major obstacle.

"When customers come to me, they're speaking in French," said the immigrant whose family moved to Quebec six months ago.

He is one of 10 recently hired immigrants who are learning to speak French.

Provigo social media manager Martine Coulombe said the company is struggling to find French-speaking employees, so they came up with a creative way to help immigrants learn on the job.

New arrivals wear a button at the store that informs customers that they're still learning French and asks them to speak slowly.

Lion said it's made a huge difference.

"They are very patient," he said. "They are very grateful."

Coulombe said that since the employees have started wearing the buttons, customers feel like they're part of the learning process.

For Lion, it's an opportunity to support his family and learn the language at the same time.

"In the work they teach us," he said. "They give us that great opportunity [to] learn French."

Provigo is also giving its employees two free hours of French lessons per week during work hours, in addition to the hands-on experience. Top Stories

Stay Connected