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Саn Оnе Gеt By Spеаking Еnglish In Sоuth Аmеriса?

Discussion in 'South America' started by WilliamV, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. WilliamV

    WilliamV New Member

    I wоuldn't think vеry еаsily. Lаst yеаr а friеnd аnd I wеnt tо Pеru tо sее Mасhu Piссu, аnd shе's gоt Itаliаn blооd аnd bеаutiful skin tо gо with it, whеrе I аm а typiсаl blоnd hаir bluе еyеd surfеr dudе. Thе саtсh is thаt shе spеаks nо оthеr lаnguаgе bеsidеs Еnglish whеrе I'vе litеrаlly spеnt mоnths trаvеling thrоugh sоuthеrn Sоuth Аmеriса аnd саn spеаk bоth Spаnish аnd Pоrtuguеsе. Еvеrywhеrе wе wеnt tо еаt in Limа аnd in Сuzсо, thе sеrvеr wоuld lооk аt mе, thеn turn tо hеr аnd stаrt spеаking Spаnish. Gоing thrоugh аirpоrts in Limа аnd Сuzсо thе аgеnts аlwаys аsk whеrе shе's frоm(in Spаnish), аnd lаugh whеn thеy find оut shе dоеsn't spеаk Spаnish аnd shе's frоm Аlаskа. Wе stаyеd in Mirа Flоrеs аnd Сuzсо tоо, bоth fаirly tоuristy spоts. Sо it wоuldn't bе impоssiblе but vеry diffiсult in my оpiniоn.
  2. Corzhens

    Corzhens Active Member

    I had 4 semesters of Spanish in college but I don't think I can handle a conversation in Spanish. Yes, I know that South Americans don't speak much English and they are not bi-lingual in their street signages. But I will be relying on my husband since he knows a little Spanish although wrong in grammar, hahahaaah. But seriously, there is Google Translate now and I believe that one can survive South American language with the help of the GT.

    The only Spanish I know are gracias or muchas gracias for thank you, buenos dias, and some other greetings.
  3. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    One of my close friends backpacked Central and South America not knowing a lick of Spanish - she was there for a total of three months - and she didn't speak any Spanish whatsoever before she went. Maybe "hola" and that was about it! She had a wonderful time and despite not knowing any Spanish, she said people were super helpful and she actually found herself picking up quite a lot of Spanish words and phrases as she went along! Certainly enough to be quite easily understood! So I think whilst maybe it isn't the easiest predicament, it's certainly not impossible. I also think that of all the languages out there, there's quite a few similarities (to me, anyway!) when I hear English or Spanish. A lot more so than say English to Chinese or something.
  4. pwarbi

    pwarbi Member

    I also tend to think that the language barrier might not be as much of a problem as you might think, just like it isn't in other parts of the world.

    While it's obviously beneficial to know the local language, or at least try to learn some phrases, a lot of the tourist areas will have English speaking people around so it shouldn't be too bad these days, and a lot easier than it once was anyway.
  5. crimsonghost747

    crimsonghost747 Active Member

    Well in the more touristic areas you will of course be fine. Outside of those areas... yeah I don't think anyone will understand you. But as Amelia said spanish isn't super hard to pick up and I've heard the locals are pretty friendly and understanding in general so I'm sure it would be doable.
  6. Rachel

    Rachel Member

    While it may be okay to 'get by speaking English' I always try to learn a few words of my host country, even if it's just please/thank you/hello/goodbye. I find that people appreciate it - regardless of how bad your accent is - and it can make the difference between getting a good, friendly service and not. Plus I think it's good manners to make an effort.
  7. pwarbi

    pwarbi Member

    It is appreciated if you try and learn the basics in a language, but if you can't or dint have time it's not frowned upon either, especially in the tourist areas.

    In fact, in some of the busy tourist resorts they'd actually rather you spoke English as they have that many people to serve and attend to, even though I'm sure they'd love to help you out and take your order in their native language, they simply don't have the time to.
  8. In the tourist areas this will not very much matter since they know how to communicate in English.
    However, if you go anywhere farther than the tourist areas then it will definitely come handy and in some cases life-saving to learn at least some basics of the host language.
  9. krnd

    krnd New Member

    I wouldn't recommend getting by with only English in places such as Venezuela and Colombia (though I wouldn't bother visiting without some sort of touristic program anyways, these are dangerous beautiful places)

    Even though a big part of the population can understand English, you should try to have some understanding of Spanish so that you can get most things done on your own and not rely on potentially dangerous strangers you could find.
  10. Novelangel

    Novelangel Member

    I used to work with some people who had almost no English at all, and we communicated fairly well, as long as we could see each other because 90% of our "talk" was non-verbal sign language. One day a Mexican lady called me on the phone and then we had a challenge as we couldn't rely on fancy hand-work, and had to depend only on our limited spanglish. I suspect that if you visit a non-English speaking country, you will manage to get by with the use of sign language and probably a word or two here and there of actual language. It really helps though, if you have someone along with you who is either native or fluent in the local tongue.
  11. Lynk

    Lynk Member

    I think you'd be better off learning at least a little Spanish to start. You can get through a lot with pantomime and such, but Spanish is actually fairly easy to learn. If you can at least learn a few key phrases and how to pronounce the words, you can get by quite well with a travel dictionary and non-verbal communication.
  12. ZipMedia

    ZipMedia New Member

    I went to Mexico last summer and we stayed at a very nice beach resort. Surprisingly, English was the most spoken language there. I felt a little guilty to be honest, when we were in our truck. I felt so exposed and I was getting strange looks from the locals (we were in a half-bed jeep and I was sitting in the back). So yes, touristic locations are the most whitewashed but I'm not one to pay top dollar to roll around in a country that I just don't understand. On the other hand, less "foreign" countries like Scotland are definitely more friendly to those who are very socioeconomically minded.
  13. Corzhens

    Corzhens Active Member

    My husband is a wizard when it comes to communication. When we were in Vietnam last year, he was able to communicate with the Vietnamese who do not know English (my husband doesn't know Viet language). What he does is to use sign language like when asking for the price of an item, he would point to his wallet as if to pay the vendor. And the vendor would reply in numbers using the calculator. I guess we can survive beautifully in a Spanish speaking country because my husband knows a little Spanish and he had stayed in California for 7 months with lots of Mexican friends.
  14. Valentino

    Valentino Member

    Before traveling abroad, you should try to learn the language. This way if you have to for any reason interact with anyone you will at least get to ask them if they know anyone who speaks English. There always has to be someone who knows English but you can't find that person if you don't know the local language.

    Make the assumption that you can get by speaking English anywhere and you might be in for a nasty surprise.
  15. I read somewhere that it takes six hundred hours to master Spanish and if your phone gets internet, you can always use Google Translate for anything you don't understand. I wouldn't go without someone knowing some basic Spanish, even native speakers will dumb down their language when they need to. You need Portuguese though for Brazil though, if I remember correctly. Either way, you need some basic phrases to travel.
  16. I think you can get by just about anywhere in the world with sign language. In Thailand, very often, I see hawkers discussing prices with tourists by using a calculator. I think there are also handheld translators. Having something like this in hand should solve many communications problems.
  17. reverserewind

    reverserewind Member

    Well, I doubt that. Sure, some people do speak English and they do it well. Most people don't, however. You've gotta learn some Spanish to reassure yourself.
  18. Corzhens

    Corzhens Active Member

    I agree with the Google Translate instead of studying conversational Spanish. However, may it serve a lesson to everyone that when you are in China, there is no Google and Facebook - these 2 websites are banned in China and they have their own equivalent website as Baidu (and I forgot the other one). Maybe it is better to make a list of common phrases and sentences that you think will be useful so in case you need to talk in their language then you have a fall back. I am doing that for our trip to Japan early next year.
  19. Valentino

    Valentino Member

    The 10,000 hour rule says that to be proficient at anything you need to put in at least 10,000 hours. I'm sure learning a language would probably take less time. For learning basic phrases that would take even less time which is great because if you want to rely on an app for translations and your phone is stolen or the battery dies you'll find it real hard to communicate.
  20. The ten thousand hour rule isn't about proficiency. The scientist who got that number did it by studying the people who were the best in their field, Olympic athletes, professional musicians, people at the top of their field. The hour to learn conversational language is much shorter since I'm just trying to order food and ask where a bathroom is. I'm not trying to master Spanish in such a way that I probably know it better than most native speakers.