When in Madrid, Make an Effort to Speak Spanish

I overheard a conversation today between an English guy and a waiter in one of the bars. The English guy had just finished his coffee and said to the waiter: "the bill – two coffees". When he handed over a 5-Euro note and received his change he said: "thank you".

BLOODY HELL! This sort of thing makes me mad. You go to the heart of Spain – Madrid, not the Costa del Sol – and can´t be arsed to try and speak in their language.

And the crazy thing is that most young people (he must have been in his early 30´s) in the Western world can say; "dos cafés" and everybody, I mean everybody knows how to say: "gracias". Any phrasebook – and let´s admit all tourists have one – will have phrases like "me dice cuanto es" or "la cuenta, por favor" to ask for the bill.

And I saw the same thing happen a couple of hours later with a young, American girl who again couldn´t be arsed and hot quite annoyed when people couldn´t understand her.

It´s one of the most wonderful things about Madrid – that many people speak English badly or not all – and that´s what makes it such a great place.

2 thoughts on “When in Madrid, Make an Effort to Speak Spanish

  • April 15, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I’m a Brit… I’m bad at languages but when I’m abroad I do try to make the effort – even if I only manage to learn 10 words, they can get you through most situations. I find that people are much friendlier and more helpful when I make the effort to respect that I’m in their country. But, sometimes when I’m daydreaming I muddle up my languages and revert to italian (because I know more than 10 words of Italian) doh!

  • December 4, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I was amused by the comment that one shd learn to speak Spanish. In India we speak 216 languages (excluding dialects) and we don’t expect tourists to learn them. Mexicans coming to USA insult the Americans by not learning English. Get on with it.

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