Buenos Días! Cómo está? Welcome to Ecuador and South America!
Once you finally make it here and start to settle into something of a routine you will realize that not many Ecuadorians speak English and trying to get what you need to be accomplished can be a bit of a challenge.
To Learn or Not to Learn
The controversy about whether or not to learn Spanish continues among expats here on an ongoing basis. Some make a concentrated effort to learn the language, some pick up what they can to get by, and some refuse to make any effort and still somehow manage to get by.
I have been here for almost a year now. I was always considered a quick learner in school but I must admit I am having a difficult time gaining any proficiency in the language. I am attributing it to a loss of short-term memory that seems to go with aging.
I do recommend trying the free online Spanish lessons with Duolingo just to get some basics down before and after you arrive.
My friends who have made a strong effort to learn the language have taken private lessons that lasted one to two months, working four to five hours a day, five days a week.
Integrate With Local Culture
After a few months, they were able to speak at least reasonably well on a conversational basis. They also are making more of an effort to integrate with the local culture so they are able to use the language on a regular basis.
I, on the other hand, am able to converse on a very basic short sentence level and spending time writing a blog about whether or not to learn Spanish as well as other subjects in English.
A key to learning any language seems to be that one must use it or lose it.
And as far as the debate on whether or not to learn the language where you live is concerned, just think about how you are going to tell your Spanish speaking doctor about what your problem is if, for some reason, heaven forbid, you end up at the emergency room of a hospital.
The Limits of Sign Language
And then he tries to tell you what the problem is and what must be done. That is an extreme example but it is very frustrating to have to use sign language when you are trying to communicate.
- Download Google Translate on your smartphone. You can speak into the phone and it will translate for you using voice and written text. No need for Wifi.
- Join an online conversational group such as Conversation Exchange–it is free.
- Take some lessons. It will make your life so much easier and open so many new possibilities for you.
Please let us know what you are thinking… y Bienvenidos!
by: Eileen Brill-Wagner