Press 1 for English

It’s not easy to learn a new language, especially when you are older. I’ve heard many people in the US say all immigrants need to learn English and they resent the phone menu, press 1 for English, 2 para español.

Of course it’s good to learn the language of your adopted country. Some do, some may be in the process of learning, and others may struggle to learn just some basic phrases. Moving to Panama has been a huge lesson for me in how challenging it is to learn Spanish, and after all this time I still don’t understand everything, and it’s still like a puzzle – how can I put together the words and phrases I know to express what I want to say? Some people have a talent for languages. I am not one of them.

Today I had to call the bank. (Scotiabank)  I transferred money a week ago and it still hadn’t shown up at its destination. I can talk on a lot of subjects, but I don’t have experience with troubleshooting a banking problem. I was filled with pure joy when the menu said marca 1 para español, press 2 for English. A very nice English speaking gal came on the line, asked me a bunch of security questions, asked the problem, tracked down the transaction, made a investigation ticket, and told me it should be resolved in 3 days and they will email me.

It saved me having to ask her to repeat things, explain words I didn’t know, and it made the whole process so much less stressful. It’s challenging enough to talk in person, but so much harder on the phone when you have no visual cues. I remember how excited I was the first time I made a dentist appointment on the phone, and I had been here for months at that time.

I will never resent a US phone menu with the option for Spanish!  I understand that even for someone who speaks a lot of English, it can be a huge help.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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5 Responses to Press 1 for English

  1. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.


  2. Linda Reynolds says:

    So honest and true. There’s a new term they’re throwing around in the medico insurance world, Trying to get doctors to take courses in it, called “empathetics” what the world needs now…


  3. Kate says:

    I remember feeling that same gratitude for English options when I lived in Japan. Now, whenever I see other language options in the States it makes me smile.


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