Is Spanish Necessary in Puerto Rico?
Depending on who you ask, posing this question can land you smack in the middle of a highly contested political debate. Is English enough? Should English be spoken at all? Should Spanish be the official language of Puerto Rico? Each of these questions can be answered in different ways. With that in mind, the ensuing post should not be construed as a political statement. Rather, this post is representative of the personal and professional experiences of Global Perceptions’ President since moving to the island in 2006.
The simple answer to whether or not Spanish is necessary is “Yes!” The complicated answer is that the extent of Spanish necessary depends on where you live, what you do on a daily basis, your sense of adventure and interest in local culture. Many foreigners decide to live near other non-natives, forming an English-speaking enclave in which they can function. These English bubbles offer support and advice for newcomers and provide a sense of home away from home. Being a part of one of these groups is critical for most newcomers.
As helpful as these enclaves can be for establishing connections, they should not be the only connections that you make. Living in these spaces may be ideal in the beginning; however, you should work to branch out into the local community as well. This is where Spanish becomes increasingly important. Many people you meet have some English skills, but they much prefer to speak Spanish. To put gas in your car, answer the guards when they call your home with a delivery, make a bank deposit or get a haircut, you need to speak basic Spanish. If you have the time before your arrival to learn Spanish, do so. If not, make it a priority once you arrive. Look for an instructor or program with a positive track record that focuses on local conversation skills. You live in Puerto Rico, not Spain or Mexico. Learning to speak like Spaniards will only help you on your vacation there. It won’t help you much here.
Once you have basic skills learned in a classroom setting, put them into use. Make an effort to use your Spanish even if it’s not very good. Local people will appreciate the effort and will be more apt to help you as well. If you really want to practice, make sure you keep speaking Spanish even if they switch to English. They want to help you, but you can’t learn if you don’t practice so stick with it. If you truly have the desire to learn, you will. If you don’t make learning Spanish a priority, you will never make the leap and will miss out on a lot of the experiences you could have had.
If the idea of learning Spanish seems intimidating, consider private classes with Global Perceptions. We focus on teaching students to interact in the local community and function on a day-to-day basis whether as executives, students, military personnel, athletes, or accompanying partners. Our custom-designed materials are innovative and interactive for all ages.
FREE consultations for adult and youth Spanish tutoring sessions are being held until September 15, 2012. Contact us TODAY for your FREE appointment! Call us at 787.455.7764 or visit our webpage at www.globalperceptions.net.