Life is so much easier and more fun if you can communicate! Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know how I feel about learning the local language. You don’t have to speak perfectly or even close to it, but if you can make yourself understood and understand most of what is said to you, it’s a wonderful thing. There are people who speak English in various businesses around town but you can’t count on that when you need someone, so it’s much easier to get things done when you know some Spanish. And, best of all, you can be friends with the locals. My Panamanian friends are like sunshine in my life.
I took classes on line with Habla Ya for six months before I arrived and this helped me enormously. I thank the school and my teacher Yaira every day for my ability to communicate. Their teachers are very kind and patient, but also very professional and capable. They are running a special for expats in Panama right now, so check THIS LINK for details. Even if you aren’t in Panama or close to one of their schools (Boquete, Bocas del Toro, and Panama City) you can take classes on line. This is what I did. I had class for an hour a day plus homework. That’s enough to pound a fair amount of Spanish into even my thick head.
Then, you need to find friends who don’t speak English. You are forced to use your Spanish, and listening helps so much with understanding. Local people can tell you about life here, the culture, food, where to shop, life stories, and explanations of things that are confusing. You can also hand them the phone on those days when your Spanish has just flown out of your head and a phone conversation is an exercise in frustration.
So, this is my rant for the day. Go learn the language in whatever way works for you. If you are like me though, and you know your teacher will be waiting to check your homework, you are much more likely to study every day.
P.S. I generally don’t promote businesses on my blog, but these folks made a big difference in my life here and have more than earned my support.