If my family and I go to Barcelona or Madrid in Spain will we have to know how to speak spanish?

I do not know if people there will speak in English or just Spanish.


  1. You can travel in Spain speaking english.

    It’s true that a lot of spanish doesn’t know how to speak english, but it’s not a problem for tourists, usually in touristic places and hotel there are people who speak english ^^


    Yagami C.
  2. No.

    See…people have been traveling to places where they don’t speak the language for MILLIONS OF YEARS.

    You will get by! They do NOT (by and large) speak a lot of English, but in those two major cities, you will always be able to get by with a few people around who speak broken English, and you could get lucky and hit people who speak fluent English. While I didn’t need it, the clerk at the rental place in Barcelona was COMPLETELY fluent in English, as was the policeman we needed to make a report with.

    When you don’t speak the language well, a few key phrases will ALWAYS ingratiate you with the locals. They LOVE it if you can say hello, please and thank you…if you can ask how much…? (and point) Where is…? And point on a map, etc., you’ll find people extremely helpful.

    Broken, key phrases and a lot of sign language with a smile will get you through ANYWHERE.

    To be sure, concierges and desk clerks in any larger hotel usually have a few people on staff that speak English.

    You’ll do just fine. Think of any problems you might have with communication as ADVENTURES, and enjoy yourselves.

  3. To make thing more complicated for you, in Barcelona many people speak the native language Catalan, which is more similar to French, even if we all can speak Spanish as well.

    I know Chinese people who live in Barcelona and run shops who do not speak a word of Spanish or Catalan, but they are very closed communities who help each other.

    On the Mediterranean coast there are many Brits (ex-pats) who live there and who only speak English and do not care about the local culture because they are only interested in the beach and good weather.

    Same with thousan of Germans who live in the island of Mallorca: they have their bars, restaurants, real estate agencies, doctors, etc.

    The answer to your question: nobody will force you to speak Spanish if you and your family settle down in Spain, but at least you should learn a bit in order to make yourself understood, as not everybody speaks English and because it is stupid to live in a country and not speak the language.

  4. Spanish is not necessary. Millions of people go to Spain on holiday / vacation and most of them speak Spanish. It is not even necessary to know a few words. You will still be made very welcome.

  5. Not really. You will be surprised the number of languages people in each city can speak. Barcelona you will find people able to speak at least 3-4 languages (Spanish, Catalan, Arabic, English, Chinese). There’s always somebody at hand who can speak your language. Especially, if you are going to be doing something touristy.

    Steven D
  6. My first response was YES. In all my years’ experience with Spain, I have found the people very closed to the idea of learning or using any other language than the blessed Castillan Spanish. Many will criticize you and correct you if you use it improperly. As a student, I didn’t mind, but sometimes they took it a little too far (one day this elderly gentleman on the bus just turned to me out of the blue and told me to go back to America and stop speaking *his* language.) Gotta love rural Spain!

    In Barcelona, they speak Catalán, which is a whole other animal. It sounds like French and Spanish sloshed together. Signs and writing in the area are all Catalán, too. But Barcelona is extraordinary if you want to risk being the tourist with no language ability.

    All in all, English is not used AT ALL, unless you are in a very high tourist area, and it will only be servers in restaurants or people trying to sell you something who *may* know some. In which case you are really not getting any authentic culture, and all the prices are jacked up for foreign pocketbooks.



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