Spain Guide



Learning Spanish

You may feel it's completely unnecessary to learn Spanish if you're buying a property in one of the popular ex pat areas such as Benidorm, Torremolinos or Torrevieja. You could just join the many thousands of foreign residents who get by with little more than "una copa mas de vino tinto por favor" and that's after they've lived in Spain for 30 years!

Well, it's true you can manage to live in Spain without speaking a word of the language. But if you make the effort to learn at least some basic Spanish you'll find the whole experience of living in Spain so much more rewarding. Also, some mastery of the language could save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

You don't have to be fluent even if your language skills are more of the effluent variety, you'll still find a little goes a long way. The Spanish are endlessly patient with those foreigners who are prepared to have a bash at communicating in the local language (even if the results are fairly horrendous!)

The English, of course, are notoriously bad about making an effort to speak any language other than their own. But nothing is guaranteed to make you more unpopular with the locals than speaking very loudly in English to some poor Spaniard who can't understand a word you're saying. Too many Brits assume sheer volume will act as an aid to comprehension!

The Dutch, Germans and Scandinavians put the British to shame and generally converse quite competently in Spanish and several other languages. So don't let the side down take some lessons, carry your phrase book around with you and be seen to be at least trying to communicate in the language of the country which you've decided to make home. The Spanish really will appreciate your efforts and will generally bend over backwards to be helpful to you.

On a purely practical note, if you can deal directly with Spanish workmen, the town hall and the Spanish phone company Telefonica you'll be able to get things done more quickly and cost effectively than if you have to use an interpreter.

Of course the older you are, generally speaking, the more difficult it is to learn a new skill. But many elderly pensioners who retire in Spain get on famously with their Spanish neighbours, relying on just a few Spanish words and much gesticulating and back slapping.

There are so many good courses and different ways to learn Spanish that there's really no excuse for not mastering at least some of the language. You can order teach yourself books and packs with audio and video tapes (available from book stores and on the Internet); sign up for night classes or an intensive course in your own country before moving to Spain; or enrol in a class with fellow ex pats when you arrive in Spain. It's more fun to learn with others and it's a good way to meet new people.