Living

Essential Skills for Expats 1: Learn Spanish

Suitacases - Baggage Stacked for Travel

In this series of articles we will examine five essential skills any budding expat considering Mexico should develop, whether the move is for living, working or retirement, full-time or part-time. In this first article, we examine possibly the most essential skill of all: learning the local language.

Even if you plan to live in an area of Mexico that is settled by large foreign expat communities speaking English, you will still need to learn some Spanish to get by on a daily basis, and especially if you want to get the most of your experience of being in Mexico.

Spanish is Mexico’s official language, and is spoken by over 450 million people in over 20 countries world-wide. By being able to understand and speak Spanish, you will gain access to the culture in a way that you would otherwise not be able to benefit from by having everyone else speak to you in English.

Furthermore, many of the people you will need and want to interact with regularly may not speak much English, if any at all. On a daily basis these could include the local shop keepers and market traders, the gasoline station attendant, the bank clerk, your maid and the gardener. People who provide essential services on an ad-hoc basis and who also may not speak English include the plumber, the car mechanic, the electrician, or the local doctor.

It’s inconvenient having to ask someone to translate for you all of the time. It’s also good manners to demonstrate at least a modicum of skill in the local language. Spanish is a phonetic language, so it’s easy to grasp the basics and you can start learning right away, with online lessons.

To accelerate your learning, there is no better way to learn Spanish than by immersing yourself in the language among a group of peers, attending a course at a local language school in Mexico. Structured courses offer an excellent way to learn Spanish, alongside other students who have the same desire study, sharing the learning and getting involved locally at markets, banks, shops, and other places where you can exercise the language you’ve studied in the classroom.

If a move to Mexico is part of longer-term plan, and you intend to visit Mexico beforehand, consider mixing learning with pleasure on your next visit by including a course at a local Spanish language school.

Our Learning Spanish guide is an integral part of our Living & Lifestyle section, where you can learn about how Spanish is used in Mexico, as well as the reasons why Spanish is such a great language to learn.

Intermediate and advanced students of Spanish will also find a lot of value by reading our PinPoint Spanish articles here on Mexperience.

Next: Part 2 – Flexibility & Patience

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