Mobile menu

Off topic: Do you need to learn Spanish before moving to Spain?
Thread poster: Maria Luisa Duarte

Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:55
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jun 17, 2004

Something to think about.
Regards
MLD


It's obviously a good idea to learn Spanish if you're planning to move to Spain but it's surprising how many foreigners, manage to get by for years with little more than "una cerveza y el menu del dia por favor".

The vast majority of foreigners buy into popular areas where there are large concentrations of their fellow countrymen. The British and Germans lead the way when it comes to buying in Spain and all along the Costas they've established their own enclaves where British bars, beer kellers, bratwurst and bingo are all much more in evidence than anything remotely Spanish.

Many foreigners, especially retired people who have no need to learn the language in order to find work, are quite happy living in a community where there's a proliferation of bars and clubs frequented by like-minded folk from their own country. Life only starts to get tricky when they need to deal with the Spanish phone company Telefonica, the Spanish authorities or Spanish workmen. Still, there are some that say "I'll never be able to master Spanish" and manages to get round these problems by employing a translator or, wherever possible, labourers and professionals who can speak their own language.

So if this is possible why bother to even attempt to learn Spanish? Let's face it, it's no mean feat for your average linguistically challenged Brit. The simple answer is that even if you only learn the basics of the language you'll find the experience of living in Spain 100 times more rewarding. The Spanish are hugely appreciative of foreigners who attempt to communicate in their language and will generally fall over themselves trying to help if they can see that you're making the effort.

On the other hand Spaniards can be a bit like the Welsh when it comes to overbearing foreigners who expect the whole world to speak English. If you don't even bother to start with a "buenas dias" or an "hola" you might find yourself running up against a brick wall with a Spaniard who speaks perfectly good English but flatly refuses to do so in protest at your perceived arrogance and rudeness.

This doesn't mean you have to master the language to the point of fluency. For most retired people that's virtually impossible as we all know the old grey cells aren't so elastic as the years go by. But get the hang of some basic sentences, take your dictionary and phrase book everywhere, indulge in a lot of smiling and back slapping and you'll be amazed at how far you get in a country like Spain where the people are naturally warm and hospitable.

If you're planning to move anywhere other than the popular tourist areas, learning Spanish will be essential to your survival whether or not you intend to find work. And if you need to get a job, even if it's in one of the most popular areas, you'll find a knowledge of Spanish greatly improves your chances of securing employment.

http://website.lineone.net/~esteve/page36.html


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Friendly disagree Jun 17, 2004

Well Maria Luisa ! I am afraid that you are talking about of the “ugly British” who use to spend a few days or weeks in “Torremolinos”, “Palma de Majorca” or in all these sorts of places ; or, the worst of all, the ones who came in Spain (and right now in Lisboa) to “support” (if I may say so) a football team.

I am living in Catalunya, and here, there are a lot of United Kingdom’s citizens and sometime Americans who speak a fair Spanish.

The British/American who lives in this country has a good excuse to learn as soon as possible Spanish/Catalan/Gallego/Euskera and so on… It is compulsory for their survival : as a matter of fact, in Barcelona at least, you will meet each 200 yards a language school where many Spaniards try their best to learn English but, I am afraid without success, from the spelling point of view. Maybe there is some physical impeachment for them to succeed in that task. This is a pure injustice… because they are trying very hard and I do think that they are the only ones in Europe to do so.

Well, when I came in Spain, all my Spanish colleagues and/or friends tried to speak English with me (I am French…) and I unfortunately had to pretend that I was unable to speak and understand English.

The “Gabachos”, I mean the French people visiting Spain, are not better : as the Spanish language do have Latin roots, they think that it is sufficient to add at the end of each French word an “o” to express a masculine concept and an “a” to express the feminine one… More simple for the verbs : just use the French infinitive and make it with some suffix having a “Spanish” look. Adjectives simply do not exist…

I know that my English is lousy but at least I try…

Friendly

PS : A nice joke I have just received from one of my Missouri friend about U.S./British tourist travelling in Spain :

One day, an American was touring Spain. After his day's sightseeing, he stopped at a local restaurant.

While sipping his wine, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.

He asked the waiter, "What is that you just served?"

The waiter replied, " Ah senior, you have excellent taste! Those are bull's balls from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!"

The American, though momentarily daunted, when he learned the origin of the dish said, "What the hell, I'm on vacation! Bring me an order!"

The waiter replied, "I am so sorry senior. There is only one serving a day since there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early tomorrow and place your order, we will be sure to serve you this delicacy!"

The next morning, the American returned, placed his order and was served the one and only special delicacy of the day. After a few bites, and inspecting the contents of his platter, He called to the waiter and said,

"These are very tasty but I notice that they're much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday!"

The waiter promptly replied,

"Si señor! Sometimes the bull wins!"





[Edited at 2004-06-17 20:50]

[Edited at 2004-06-17 22:54]

[Edited at 2004-06-18 01:33]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 07:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fully laugh and agree (except for THAT!) Jun 17, 2004

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

"Si señor! Sometimes the bull wins!"

[Edited at 2004-06-17 20:50]


Learning the language is not enough. Raise their hands all those who were served "vegetarian" dishes with pork in Spain because "pork isn't meat"!
And those who go to Barcelona to learn Spanish at the EOI and get out and all they hear is Catalan, or both languages at the same time!
P

Note amicale pour Thierry (sort of way off topic but not quite):
Mais, dis donc alors, mon chère Thierry, Catalan a dialect????? OK, we aren't allowed to have a recognised national football side at the European Cup God knows why, but this language's been around for quite a while... I'm available if your Catalan friends need help dealing with you...
Força, colega!
P




[Edited at 2004-06-18 00:14]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
German to Italian
+ ...
:) Jun 17, 2004

Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:


The Spanish are hugely appreciative of foreigners who attempt to communicate in their language and will generally fall over themselves trying to help if they can see that you're making the effort.



It rings a bell... this is what many say about the Italian too


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
German to Italian
+ ...
ps Jun 17, 2004

Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:

The vast majority of foreigners buy into popular areas where there are large concentrations of their fellow countrymen. The British and Germans lead the way when it comes to buying in Spain and all along the Costas they've established their own enclaves where British bars, beer kellers, bratwurst and bingo are all much more in evidence than anything remotely Spanish.



Just a quotation from German sociologist Erwin Scheuch: "Auf Reisen suchen Deutsche kein fremdes Land, sondern Deutschland mit Sonne" (When travelling, Germans do not look for a foreign land: they look for Germany with sunshine)
(no offence intended, Germany is one of my favourite lands, even without sun)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Catalan and so on... Jun 18, 2004

Please kindly do consider that I never had the intention to offend my Catalan friends by using the wording "dialect".

I use Catalan everyday and I sam proud to do so... Unfortunately my special sense of humour is rather "heavy" from time to time...

I do apologize for it and hope that my catalan friends will forgive me.

Friendly

Thierry

[Edited at 2004-06-18 02:11]

[Edited at 2004-06-18 02:19]

[Edited at 2004-06-18 02:20]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 07:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not necessary Jun 18, 2004

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

Please kindly do consider that I never had the intention to offend my Catalan friens by usinh the wording "dialect".

I use Catalan everyday and I sam proud to do so... Unfortunately my special sense of humour is rather "heavy" from time to time...

I do apologize for it and hope that my catalan friends will forgive me.

Friendly

Thierry

I knew where you were coming from, Thierry, never felt offended, I was just trying to keep up with your humour, always welcome and never too heavy in this neck of the woods!
P


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxsarahl
Local time: 22:55
English to French
+ ...
before ? Jun 18, 2004

Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:
It's obviously a good idea to learn Spanish if you're planning to move to Spain but it's surprising how many foreigners, manage to get by for years with little more than "una cerveza y el menu del dia por favor".
http://website.lineone.net/~esteve/page36.html[/quote]

I for one would probably wait until I'm there so I can learn it straight from the cabal's mouth, along with the local language (agree with Paul on this one). Actually, I would probably start with catalan if were to move to Catalonia.
You're right,though, people who don't learn the local language(s)don't know what they're missing on.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
German to Italian
+ ...
"pork isn't meat"? Jun 18, 2004

Paul Roigé wrote:

Learning the language is not enough. Raise their hands all those who were served "vegetarian" dishes with pork in Spain because "pork isn't meat"!

[Edited at 2004-06-18 00:14]


Sorry Paul, I don't get it... what do you mean? Anyway, no problem for me: I'm not a vegetarian


Direct link Reply with quote
 

nothing
Local time: 06:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not the spelling, Thierry, the pronunciation Jun 18, 2004

I think the article is wrong in saying that many people can understand English, but pretend not to. Many people cannot speak English at all.
When I was at school, my year group was the first with the same number of people in French and English lessons. Previously most people studied French. That means that most people over 40 did not learnt English at school. Many people of that age did never learn any foreign language. Until the Education Reform Plan of 1970, there were two different curricula for children over 11. Those who did not go to Baccalaureate stayed in Primary until they were 14, and foreign languages were not part of the curriculum. Some of those people who did not learn foreign languages at school, went to work abroad and learnt a language, but it was usually French or German, as not many people emigrated to English speaking countries.
And then, there are the accents. Those people who only studied English at school, were only taught received English or, in some cases, some American accents. They would not be able to understand many other accents. For example, nobody can understand my husband (not even my American brother-in-law can understand him) and if we ever need to speak English when we are travelling anywhere, I do the talking.

So, I genuinely believe that people do not pretend they cannot understand. In my experience, people try really hard. And Thierry, I think more people have trouble with pronunciation than with spelling, because there is a bigger emphasis on written English in many courses.

But, having said that, I think it would not be a bad idea if some people adopted a “Welsh” attitude. We are not talking about someone going on holidays, but about someone who moves to the country. Frankly, I don’t think is a question of being linguistically challenged, but a problem of respect and bad manners. Once, when I was on holidays in Portugal as a teenager, someone came and ask me in Spanish, “Come on girl, where is the supermarket?” I pretended not to understand and replied in Portuguese, and it was not exactly a nice answer.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
RafaLee
Australia
Local time: 16:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
In my case Jun 21, 2004

"So if this is possible why bother to even attempt to learn Spanish? Let's face it, it's no mean feat for your average linguistically challenged Brit. The simple answer is that even if you only learn the basics of the language you'll find the experience of living in Spain 100 times more rewarding. The Spanish are hugely appreciative of foreigners who attempt to communicate in their language and will generally fall over themselves trying to help if they can see that you're making the effort. "

WEll, when I was in Barcelona, I found that Spaniards just treat me normally when I spoke Spanish to them ( maybe because I look Asian). However, when I tried to speak Catalan to the Catalans, they appreciated it very much and were more willing to help me to speak their language than the Spaniards.

As Maria said, life in Spain is much more rewarding if you know a little bit of Spanish or local language/dialect.

Rafa


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 07:55
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Even if you do know the language..... Jun 22, 2004

....it doesn't stop you making some weird mistakes.

When I first came to Spain at the age of 15 I'd already been studying Spanish for 4 years.
Hence I knew enough Spanish (or so I thought) to decipher the sign in a building near where I stayed.

"Se vende piso.
Razón: la Portera"

This left me bewildered.

a) What could the woman have done which was so horrendous as to prompt someone to sell their flat?

b) What an original way of getting their own back on her by publicising the fact.

Saludos,
Andy

(For those who don't know Spanish, "razón" in this case does not mean "the reason or motive" but simply means, "for details, see the Portera")


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Krokodil
Germany
Local time: 07:55
German to English
+ ...
I don't know about Spanish, but .... Jul 6, 2004

Otto Rehhagel apparently doesn't know a word of Greek, and look where that's got him ....

Croc


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:55
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ouch.... Jul 6, 2004

andycw wrote:

"Se vende piso.
Razón: la Portera"

This left me bewildered.

a) What could the woman have done which was so horrendous as to prompt someone to sell their flat?

b) What an original way of getting their own back on her by publicising the fact.


I love it...

Hadn't seen this before. It quite made my day. Happy translating!


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Fernanda Rocha[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Do you need to learn Spanish before moving to Spain?

Advanced search






WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »
SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs