I'm going to be in Montreal for several weeks-months for work this fall. I don't speak a word of French. It's my understanding that Montreal is the primary anglophone enclave for Quebec and that English is widely spoken. I've also been told that once you get outside of the Montreal metro area, English fluency drops off considerably.
My concerns are twofold:
While I'm not concerned with people not speaking English in, say, bars and restaurants and convenience stores, I am a little worried about getting yelled at angrily in French while working in an outer suburb and not having any clue how to respond. (I work in public spaces, and drive a vehicle with a graphic wrap from my employer that attracts attention, both positive and negative). Alternately, I tend to like local dive bars and off the beaten track restaurants that might not be used to catering to travelers. Should I be concerned? I understand that the city proper will be fine, but I'm wondering just how far out from the city that advice remains useful.
Would it be useful for me to try to learn some rudimentary French before going? Would it make a difference? Or just be wasted effort. I do know enough to know that Parisian french is just different enough to be of reduced helpfulness.