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cities in europe where English language is prevalent?

Travel Forums Europe cities in europe where English language is prevalent?

1. Posted by kately (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y

i am a beginner, pipsqueak and hungry to see prague, berlin, amsterdam, belfast, some part of spain? western and eastern europe is what i'm interested in. i speak english and a little french and am from new york city. i am 22, female and want to see everything like a classic impatient mess.

..........but a) where can i get by without having to be completely isolated from the english language, i'm sorry but that is a limiter, and b) as a young, relatively street-smart female but non-aggressive.......are there places to certainly avoid. i am not a backpacker or a priss. middling sort.

vague, general, selfish questions. i really want to see everything so i can't even be more specific.
thanks for anything!
katie

2. Posted by coldwarspy (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 10y

hey there
English is common enough for most places, generally speaking in larger urban centers. Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam you will have no trouble. Parts if Spain maybe harder unless your in Madrid or Barcelona. Eastern Euro may be a bit more difficult, but certainly manageable. Russia - I wouldnt advise unless you know a bit of Russian.

relatively street-smart female but non-aggressive

Moscow you may wish to avoid unless you are a more seasoned traveller.

Other than that, you will be fine. Just keep your bag in front of you when in public places in Barcelona and be weary of the Roma in Bucharest ;)

3. Posted by Dominatrix (Budding Member 43 posts) 10y

All of Norway, but especially Oslo.

While Amsterdam (not all of Holland!!), Zurich, Belgium, and Scandinavia are generally functionally bilingual (i.e. trilingual in the case of Belgium),

if you speak decent Dutch and ask a question in Dutch in Amsterdam, the answer is likely to be given in Dutch,

and likewise in Copenhagen (only it's Danish),

but even if you speak almost fluent Norwegian, if they can discern you are a foreigner, they will almost certainly reply in English.

Ratio of speakers of something one could name "English" in the rest of Europe:

Paris, Barcelona, Vienna -- possibly 25%; Madrid, Berlin, Athens -- not more than 20%; Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Istanbul -- not more than 15%; Warsaw, Sofia, Bucharst -- about 5%

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by lordotis (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

In general, the further North you are in Europe, the more likely you will encounter someone who can speak English. The best English is not necessarily spoken in the UK or Ireland as some regional accents are indecipherable - a bit like the New York accent ;-)! After the UK, the best English is probably spoken in The Netherlands and Denmark where it is almost spoken universally. After that come the other Scandinavian countries (Sweden/Norway) followed by Germany. I'm not so sure about Eastern European countries, but it is certain that you will only encounter English in larger tourist areas.

The French don't speak English on principle as we are their oldest enemy and they suffered the humiliation of having their butts saved (TWICE!) in the last century by coalitions of English speaking nations.

So, your French will get you by in France, western Switzerland and most of Belgium. It will also be useful in Portugal where there is a tradition of economic migration to France, so the language has been carried back there. Also, French is spoken fairly well in Morocco (as well as almost universally in Algeria), but I would strongly suggest that you don't go to either of these countries, especially Algeria, as a single female (I went as a single male to Morocco some 20 years ago and found it quite frightening and nearly lost all of my gear).

You will also find that Catalan speaking areas (Barcelona, NE Spain etc) might be accessible as there are similarities between Catalan and French (Catalan speakers will disagree, but the language is a sort of mix of French and Spanish - certainly when written).

Personally, I would recommend Portugal as worth a visit (one of my favourite countries). English is spoken fairly widely, and if that doesn't work, try French. Its a beautiful country and the Portuguese are friendly towards English speakers (if you can pretend that you are English, you might get a very special welcome (out of tourist areas) as the Portuguese know very well that their country is England's oldest ally (something, sadly that most British travellers don't know). I would hazard a guess that it is safe everywhere for the independent female traveller.

Greece will present few problems and comes highly recommended. The country adopted English as the 'tourist language' about 30 years ago and have English speaking 'tourist police'. All signage is in English as well as Greek, and the locals are very welcoming wherever you go. It can be VERY touristy in the Summer, and the Islands can be wet and hard to get to in the Winter.

Avoid oil rich Norway as everything is three times the price of any other country - I've heard that two take-out pizzas and a bottle of Coca-Cola cost $100.

Bits of Spain can be tricky as street robbery can be a problem in tourist areas.

Italian machismo might appeal, or you might be put off by it (if you don't welcome having your butt pinched).

The United Kingdom is worth a visit (immerse yourself in Central London and you might never want to go home). But then again, I'm bound to say that!

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 10y

Quoting lordotis

The French don't speak English on principle as we are their oldest enemy and they suffered the humiliation of having their butts saved (TWICE!) in the last century by coalitions of English speaking nations.

I've been hearing this for years and years and years. But you know what? When I finally went over to visit, turns out France proudly displays flags of every nation that came over to fight. Every square has a memorial to the couries who sacrificed their soldiers to save France. And the people remember, and are thankful. It's the nations who went over to fight who've gotten pompous about their role 60 years ago. Countries fought because they believed it was the right thing to do. We have no right to hold that over another nation, and perpetuate lies about thier ingratitude.

Passes soap box along to the next in line...

7. Posted by lordotis (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

Okay, so it was a bit 'toungue in cheek'! But it is true that the French see the advance of English as cultural imperialism and I believe they have an organisation to resist the advance of the English language in France (such as the introduction of 'le weekend' etc).

This is strange as English itself is a Creole language being a combination of Germanic and Scandinavian languages mixed with the 'Court' language of French used by the Norman conquerers (another French word!) for three or four hundred years after the 1066 invasion!

8. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 10y

Quoting lordotis

But it is true that the French see the advance of English as cultural imperialism and I believe they have an organisation to resist the advance of the English language in France (such as the introduction of 'le weekend' etc).

I live in Quebec, where "La Loi 101" was passed in 1977 to protect the French language. It was, and still is, a highly controversial law - because the protection of one language inevitably means the restiction of another.

So road signs can only be in French, and stores can choose to include English on their signs only if the letters are no bigger than half the size of the French. There's an "Office de la langue francaise" that employs people to ensure the law is respected, and give fines as needed. The law also greatly restricts access to English schools.

I get why the law needed to be passed, but I disagree with the restriction of any language - ESPECIALLY when it is the main language of so many people who live there. That being said, though, there's no excuse not to speak French if you live in Quebec (or anywhere else where French is the main language, for that matter).

So what's my point...? Oh, yeah. Language protection and blaming France for being ungreatful of English-speaking countries are really two completely different things.

9. Posted by lordotis (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

By the way, I spent an extremely enjoyable evening in Las Vegas on Sunday night with a group of extremely nice Canadian girls and some of their boyfriends. It made me determined to make my next North American trip to be one to Canada. If you're all like those guys, I know I'm going to have a fantastic time!