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how much spanish should i know

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean how much spanish should i know

1. Posted by TylerJames (Respected Member 333 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

i am thinking of going to south america and the only thing that is holding me back is the massive language barrier can i get by on little to no spanish?

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

My advice, originally posted in this thread along with some decent advice, is...

The important thing is not to be completely fluent in spanish, but to be able to have key conversations. I travelled Chile, Argentina and Bolivia with a basic knowledge of a couple of things, and was fine.

Learn how to carry on a short conversation - say hello, ask someone's name, ask where they are from and be able to answer these questions. Be able to tell them where you are going. This way you can talk to someone for at least a few sentences before launching into the "do you speak English?" question.

Learn the numbers. You can get by in almost any store by pointing and asking "how much?" As long as you can understand the answer.

Learn how to ask if a place has rooms available. Learn to ask about the room - Is there hot water? Does the room have a private bath? Learn how to tell them you want to stay for X nights.

Learn the names of common food and drink items. This will make ordering in restaurants easy.

I found things fine with these key things. You'll also be surprised how quickly you can pick up other vocabulary in Spanish. I never caught on to the grammar all that well, but it is amazing what you can do with nouns and pointing.

3. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

If you wish a far richer travel experience, not just nouns, numbers and pointing, there exist in every country in Latin America Spanish language schools, all offering immersion 4-6 hours a day in the language, 5 days a week, and including homestay and meals with a local family if desired, often volunteer ops as well. Usually one contracts with the school on a week by week basis unless it is a special program. As well at home you can start by purchasing a good phrasebook, a basic grammar and graded reader and CDs or tapes that will help with your pronuciation..also join 'Amerispan' and sign up for their newsletters another good resource is The price of schools, depending quality ranges from 60USD a week p.p. up including room and board, the really excellent institutes usually 125USD a week up offer same plus cultural, eco and ethno study & tours and volunteer programs included as well. Instruction is usually one on one or one on two if a couple. There are also schools in Latin America that specialize in 1-2 week courses for travelers in simple survival Spanish as outlined in the previous post. Often your Spanish teacher will accompany you around shopping and socializing in free time.