Speaking bad Spanish is better than no Spanish.
If you want to live in Costa Rica and you want to communicate with the locals, do not be afraid of speaking bad Spanish. Most people, when they are learning a new language, they are afraid of making mistakes. When I started learning Spanish, I used to make lots of mistakes but Ticos enjoy that. I still speak bad Spanish once in a while, says my wife…
It IS a fact that Ticos enjoy it when you are trying hard to learn their language.
In my own family, we are several with a pretty decent feeling for linguistics. We are all quite anal trying to pronounce everything right. Even more important to us is to get our writing without spelling errors. But we have others in our family who will never learn. They handle themselves well, with hands and feet. With a Spanish vocabulary that is full of mistakes. But they get the same results with bad Spanish like the ones who speak the language well.
Bad Spanish pronunciation and bad orthography work both ways; Ticos also make mistakes in English. Some make these mistakes because of lack of education and others because of lack of interest. Check the images on this blog “selling RAD FORD” and the name of the restaurant. I do hope you understand that there’s no lifeguard and you’re on your own!
You will find small restaurants in the rural areas trying to give a better service to visiting tourists by printing their menu in “English”. Just like the locals might write a word the way it sounds (see photos from Solo en Costa Rica) you will figure out Spanish if you just try.
I have learned a lot of Spanish by reading
- the signs on the side of the road,
- signs on the businesses,
- by reading the local newspaper (without understanding anything at all)
- and watching the 6 o’clock news.
Learn one word every day. THAT will help you a lot. You will be surprised how fast you can learn a language if you try.
At first, it starts with being all garbled and people will not understand a word of what you say and you will not understand a word of what they say. It becomes really fun when you’re in a room with people socializing all in Spanish.
But go for it, don’t be afraid of doing it all wrong.
I hope the above shows you that you don’t have to be afraid of trying to speak bad Spanish when you are communicating with the locals. In fact, the Ticos love to interact with you and see you try to speak their language. Go ahead, give it a good shot, that’s how I learned too.
If you’d like to learn more about the Costa Rican culture and how to prevent culture shock, do business with us. Contact us for any real estate requirements you have.