Here's some great benefits to speaking Spanish when you move to a Spanish-speaking country. It's best to not expect that the locals are going to speak English.
1. Blend in better and taken more seriously – A gringo who speaks Spanish is less likely to get pick-pocketed, get taken advantage of, and is more apt to be taken seriously because he seems like a person who knows what’s going on in the country he lives in.
2. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world behind Chinese – Do you realize how many countries you can visit that speak the Spanish language?
3. Easier to get a bilingual position/job abroad – Helps you understand and interact with the Spanish speaking peers or students and likewise, helps them interact with you.
4. Make local friendships easier – This can be a good thing because they can help you find out where things are located, how to do certain things, and tell you some of the nitty-girtty of life in their city/country. Always with caveats, however.
5. Will adjust better to living in a Spanish speaking country – If you can’t speak Spanish in a predominant Spanish-speaking country then you might as well be deaf. And if you know Spanish you are less apt to leave, feel homesick and want to go back home.
6. Won’t have the need to hire bilinguals for every little thing, including reading menus at restaurants, we’ve actually seen this– DIY, trumps again…it’s called saving money.
7. Visa process will be easier and faster- You will be able to understand the process and the information of the residency visas. No need for a lawyer...DIY...wins again! And once they see you know Spanish, they might even push your paperwork through faster. This happened to us.
8. Read the Spanish newspapers – What a plus when you move to a foreign land. You’ll know what’s going on instead of relying on the gringo portals to give you second hand information and news with the always present gringo pumping bias.
9. You’ll be able to negotiate with self-assurance – virtually everything will be cheaper for you from food to household appliances and furniture. Once they see you know how to barter they will think you know what prices should be too. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, instead of the gringo always the one wearing the “kick me” sign on their backs!
10. If you live in Ecuador, after three years of residency visa stamp and cedula you will be eligible for Ecuadorian citizenship, if you want it. Word around town is you need to know basic Spanish for this.
11. You will be looked upon with more respect – They value that foreigners know the language. They don’t expect you to be fluent but they certainly don’t want to be looked on by us gringos as the ones who need to know English. That is the silliest and most egocentric thing we have ever heard.
There are more benefits of knowing Spanish but these ones are obvious. Of course, everything won’t automatically be easier just because you know Spanish but it will sure feel like it! If you have benefited in other ways not mentioned here, share with us!
Until we write again.
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