...although Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional languages are still spoken by some people in some areas.
You may be a little surprised, however, at the number of Mexican people who speak English, especially in the major cities and tourist areas. That’s because English has been taught in private schools in Mexico City at least since the 1950s, so most of the middle to upper class people in the major cities speak English. In private universities in the bigger cities, students are required not only to know English, but also other languages like French, which are also taught there. In some high schools, you need to get 500 points in the Toifel Exam to be able to get in. The Toifel Exam is an English Exam that is used internationally. It is used as a standard in all the schools and sometimes as a requirement for a job.There are many schools in the area where English is a prominent part of the curriculum. The American School Foundation in Guadalajara is celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2008. There are high schools that are Bilingual, Bicultural and International. The Francis Bacon School in Guadalajara, which is ranked as the best primary school in the Guadalajara Municipality, only teaches English in its Kindergarden.Still, considering that most of the Mexican people that live in the Lake Chapala Area are lower class, you might think that they don't speak English, but there are several places where they can learn English, as an example, the Lake Chapala Society gives free lessons. On the other hand, the children who have the option can attend one of the four private bilingual schools in the Ajijic Area.
Though you can “get by” without learning to speak Spanish in the
tourist areas and the larger foreign settlement areas, learning Spanish
can be compared to learning to read. If you learn Spanish, you will be
open to lots of possibilities understanding the vast and wonderful
culture of the people and the country, as well as what is going on in
the area and the country. Also it is a lot more fun and interesting if
you learn Spanish, because the Mexican people are very friendly and fun,
and you can miss a lot of nice experiences if you don't understand what
they are saying. You do not need to be fluent but it helps if you can
speak at a conversational level and the Mexican people really
appreciate it if you try to use their language; even if you do get some
words wrong (usually elicits a nice smile). Try it, it's fun!
Having said that, I can tell you story after story about the trouble I
have gotten into with my Spanish, or rather – lack of it. A number of
years ago we were just moving into a rental property. We had just sold
our condo and were building a new house which wasn’t going to be ready
for some months. I decided I needed to have all the dishes in the
kitchen cupboards washed, even though they were obviously already
clean. I didn’t know how long the house had been vacant and I can be a
So I was in the kitchen trying to tell the maid what I wanted. When
she thought she understood what I was “trying” to say, she got very
excited. I thought she must be happy at washing clean dishes – no
trouble at all. Fortunately, Ray listening in the other room came into
the kitchen and asked me what I thought I was telling her. When I told
him “in Spanish” what I had said to Olivia he laughed and said, “no
wonder she sounds happy; you just told her to take all the dishes in the
cupboards and throw them away.” Olivia wasn’t quite as happy when Ray
properly translated what I wanted.
I can also tell you, from experience, that it really helps to use
charades (body language) to reinforce what you are saying in Spanish. I
have had a lot of good laughs with the maids and gardeners trying to get
my point across. They do really appreciate my trying, however.Nevertheless,
we recommend that you make your own commitment to learn the Spanish
laguage to get the full experience of another culture. Read "Shooting
There are many opportunities to learn either in group settings or
through private lessons at very reasonable costs. And if you want to
get really serious, you can go to Guadalajara for more intensive
training and live with a Mexican family during your training. We, at
Focus on Mexico, have lots of contacts we can recommend to you, at
whatever level you are considering.
One way to jump start the process and also is great for continued
learning, is to buy some Spanish tapes or CDs. As long as you are
listening, you are learning, and although some are better than others
(Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone) – at the beginning, all of them are good.
You will be amazed at how quickly you can get the basics and ask simple
questions and even understand some of the answers. Learning to listen
is harder than learning to speak. The more you listen, the better you
will speak, and before you know it, you’ll be carrying on actual
Travel guides and phrase books are helpful and allow you to practice
asking questions. They do not, however, prepare you for the response
when a Spanish-speaking person fires foreign words at you at a very
rapid pace, especially as you get better with your speaking than your
One observation I have made is it seems to be easier and faster for
people with an ear for music to learn to speak Spanish. And, of course,
if you speak other languages, it is easier to learn a new one. Children
are like sponges and can also pick it up very quickly. They aren't as
inhibited as we are and therefore aren't afraid to try.
Just to give you a little head start, here are some simple greetings
that are easy to learn and you will find you will use often.
Good morning/Good DayGood afternoonGood evening/Good NightGood-byeHelloHappy to meet youMy name isHow are you?Very well, thank youSee you later
Buenos díasBuenas tardesBuenas nochesAdiosHolaMucho gustoMi nombre es/Me llamo¿Como está?Muy bien, graciasHasta luego
A Quick Guide for Spanish Students - Here
are 10 facts about Spanish adverbs that will come in handy to know as you learn
An adverb is a part of speech that is used to modify the meaning of an adjective,
verb, another adverb or an entire sentence. In other words, adverbs in Spanish
have basically the same function as they do in English. 2.
Most adverbs are formed by taking the singular feminine form of the adjective
and adding the suffix -mente. Thus -mente is usually the
equivalent of the "-ly" ending in English.
otro" for "another":
I think English speakers make this mistake by mentally
dissecting the word "another" into "an" "other."
But in Spanish, it's always "otro" or "otra" and NEVER
"un otro" or "una otra." Here are some examples of correct
Can you learn a word a day? We think you can. Like our Facebook Page, and
you will get a Focus on Mexico Spanish Word/Phrase of the day with practice
sentences. Here are a couple of little tricks for learning a new language.
If you’re planning on dining out in a
Spanish-speaking country, don’t miss this. Vegetarian? Not
what you ordered? No problem! After this article, you’ll be ordering from
the menu in Spanish like a pro, and impressing your Spanish-speaking
friends with your Spanish language skills.
The three choices are aquí, roughly the equivalent of
"here"; ahí, roughly the equivalent of "there" when
speaking of an object or action that is close to the person being spoken to;
and allí, roughly the equivalent of "there" or "over there"
when speaking of an object that is distant from both the speaker and the person
being spoken to. Note also that ahí is sometimes used to refer to something
emotionally close rather than simply physically close to the listener, so allí
can suggest emotional as well as physical distance.
Expressing likes and dislikes in Spanish is challenging for English speakers, because Spanish does not have a verb which can literally translate as “to like.” Instead, you must use the verb gustar goo STAHRR, which means “to be pleasing” to someone.
Tener is one of the verbs in Spanish that can be combined
with several prefixes to form new verbs. Like many other common verbs, tener
(which usually means "to have" in the sense of "to
possess") is irregular; fortunately, all the verbs derived from tener are
conjugated in the same way.
Although tener doesn't have a cognate (an equivalent word
with a common ancestor) in English, the verbs derived from it do, and they are
among the English verbs ending in "-tain." Thus detener has the same
origin as the English "detain," mantener is related to
"maintain," and so on.
If you want to indicate that something is obvious — just as
you would do in English with the phrase "of course" — here are some
words and phrases, some of them from the lesson on adverbs of affirmation, that
you can use. Of course, when translating such sentences to English, you aren't
limited to the phrase "of course" or those used here; depending on
the tone of the conversation, you can also use words such as "obviously"
Focus on Mexico publishes a Spanish Word of the Day on our Facebook page. Here are all the months that have been published so far.