Although it obviously makes sense to learn Spanish when you move to Spain, many expats (particularly British) don’t.
A surprisingly large number never venture beyond a few set phrases while many others get a little further, but barely more than enough to get by.
If you’re wondering why learning Spanish should be at the top of your priorities when you move to Spain, here are seven compelling reasons.
Because you really do need it
They might speak excellent English at your local supermarket, but at some point during your stay in Spain you will need to speak Spanish.
While a lot of Spaniards speak a bit of English, those who speak it fluently are few and far between. In the worst-case scenario, you may need Spanish in an emergency.
In a life-and-death situation, you can’t rely on the 112 operator or the ambulance understanding English.
Because it’ll open doors socially
The Spanish are generally welcoming, but few will go beyond polite chit-chat if they don’t see you making an effort to speak their language.
Getting to grips with the language will help you meet people locally and more importantly, make friends.
Because you’ll discover the real Spain
One of the joys of living in Spain is finding the real Spain.
And learning Spanish gives you unique access to the country’s rich culture, traditions, monuments, art, cuisine and landscapes. Being able to communicate with Spaniards, read the museum signs or menu in Spanish and check the what’s on listings in a local town makes a world of the difference.
Because you’ll set a good example
If you’ve moved to Spain with your children, learning to speak Spanish will set them a good example. You’re already expecting a lot of them - going to Spanish school and learning to speak the new language is no mean feat – and if you speak it too, they’ll have extra motivation. You’ll also be able to help them with homework.
Because you’ll save money
If you don’t speak Spanish, you have to rely on others for anything that involves the language.
For example, paying someone to take your car to its annual service because you can’t understand the mechanics.
Or getting someone to translate a letter from the council because you can’t make head or tail of it. If you understood the language, you could do these things for yourself and save money.
Because you’ll get the right information
One of the biggest dangers of not speaking a local language is misinformation.
You can only guarantee that facts are correct if they come from a bona fide source.
However, if you can’t understand the source because you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll have to rely on someone else to get the facts for you. And who guarantees that their version of the facts of the right one?
Learning Spanish will give you access to the right information so you can avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
This will save you time and money as well in all sorts of situations:
At the doctor’s or hospital – having a good level of Spanish will help you explain your symptoms and understand the diagnosis as well as the treatment.
At offices and businesses – speaking Spanish means you can find out first-hand how to get your residence permit renewed, your council rates rebate, a refund on bank commission, the best rate for electricity…
At school – learning Spanish will ensure you understand your children’s teachers at parents’ evenings or if there’s a problem at school.
Because it’s good for you
Our last compelling reason why you should learn Spanish when you move to Spain is simply because it’s good for you.
Scientific studies have proven the benefits of challenging the mind to do new things and how better to do it than by learning Spanish?
And if you’re finding Spanish difficult, here are 10 tips for making it easier.