Should I travel to Spain if I don’t speak Spanish?

Yes, definitely.

Spain is a great place and  many people who travel there don’t speak any Spanish.

Americans, and probably other English speakers too, sometimes forget that people from many other countries in the world — think Germany, Japan, China, for example — learn English in schools as a world language and travel the world using English, not their native language. Most tourists to Spain from non-English speaking countries don’t speak Spanish and they do fine.

You should not expect everyone in Spain to speak English. First, they don’t and second, it’s there country and it’s not quite right to expect everyone to speak your language, even if your language happens to be the language of global communications.

So, what I am telling you to do?

Get comfortable with not understanding every thing and get ready for some adventure! Also, with some helpful tips and a few phrases, you’ll make do with no problem!

In big cities that attract a lot of tourists, like Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla, people who interact regularly with tourists, like waiters, will probably speaks some English. To make things confusing, my advice is to avoid restaurants with menus in multiple languages where they are clearly catering to tourists. More on that another time.

In nice hotels throughout the country, but especially in bigger cities, hotel staff will certainly speak English. This doesn’t mean that every single person on staff will, but they will certain have a concierge person who does.

Even if you’re in a situation where the person does not speak English and you’ve exhausted your Spanish phrases, you will be able to figure it out. I can assure you this.

For example, let’s say you’re in a small cafe in a smaller city, like Leon, and the woman behind the bar doesn’t speak English and you’re trying to order a yummy breakfast pastry and coffee. There are lots of helpful guides for how to order coffee that you can check out so that you’re prepared beforehand. You can always point and gesture to what you want. It might feel silly, or embarrassing, but basically everyone’s been there.

As my aunt (who only speaks Spanish and has managed to travel lots of places) says, money is the international language. If someone is rude or unwilling to work with you as you make a concerted effort to communicate with them, walk out. In a place like Spain, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, cafes, stores, etc. and most will be happy to serve you.




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