Essential Skills for Expats 1: Learn Spanish

July 17, 2010 by
Categories: Education, Expats, Language, Retirement

To Do ListBy Mexico Insight at

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 be command at least a modicum of understanding for the language of the country which you have chosen to adopt. Spanish is a phonetic language, it’s easy to grasp the basics and you can start learning right away.

In fact, you can start learning Spanish now by undertaking some free online lessons. The language program we have partnered with offers eleven lessons; the course has been designed by an language teacher who devised a way to teach Spanish in such a way that gets you conversing within a quarter-hour. Try the free lessons and see how you get on; you can buy the entire course on DVD, the course is reasonably priced and comes with a refund guarantee.

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. These structured courses offer an excellent way to learn Spanish, alongside other students who have the same desire as you to 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 you’re planning to move to Mexico, you can start to learn Spanish today using the online lessons, and accelerate your learning at a language school in Mexico when you arrive. If your move to Mexico is part of longer-term plan, but you intend to visit Mexico beforehand, consider mixing learning with pleasure on your next visit by including a course at local Spanish language school.

Our Learning Spanish guide is an integral part of our Living & Lifestyle section. Learn about how Spanish is applied in Mexico, as well as the reasons why Spanish is such a great language to learn. Intermediate and advanced students will all find a lot of value by reading Foreign Native’s language blog articles here.

Next Time: Essential Skills for Expats 2: Flexibility & Patience