🚫 Do not switch to English!

learning strategies Jul 21, 2022

Many people visit or even move to Spain hoping to practice Spanish non-stop. But then, they face a very frustrating and disappointing situation…

Despite their efforts to speak Spanish, they frequently get a reply in English straight away! 😓  

So they lose confidence, gradually stop trying and, in the end, they struggle to practice.

And without practice, one cannot become fluent.

Has this ever happened to you? If the answer is “SÍ!” then, it's important that you keep reading.

Because daily life interactions are a huge part of developing the confidence and fluency that you need to master Spanish.

You really need the real-world practice.

And sometimes Spaniards might just want to be polite and make it quick and easy for you… And sometimes, they may take it as an opportunity for them to practice English!


Either way, the truth is that if you want to become fluent, you need to get past this challenge.


But… How?

Well, once you get beyond the tourist places, you will find that knowledge of English is not widespread at all. This doesn’t have to be far. It could just be finding the areas in a town or city where the locals live, rather than the shops and restaurants by the beach.


Also, hotels, airports or touristy restaurants are not the best places to practice Spanish for several reasons:


  1. During the busy months, staff need to work under pressure and they just want to move quicker to the next person.
  2. Also, they probably got the job because they claimed they could speak English. So they may even need to show that they can indeed speak English! 
  3. And because of point number 2, some may be really keen to practise their English as well…


So, what can you do?


  • Avoid trying to practise in busy/touristy areas as chances to succeed will be much lower.


  • Rehearse the scenario. For example, if you’re going to book a table at a restaurant, make sure you’ve already prepared the key phases that you'll need (including your name, contact details, number of people, time, etc). Ex. Hola, buenos días, quiero reservar una mesa para 2 personas para el sábado a las 8 a nombre de… (Hi, good morning, I’d like to book a table for 2 people for Saturday at 8 in the name of…) The more confident you are able to say this, the more chances they won’t switch to English. 


  • Always have your “helpful phrases” ready. Even as an intermediate/advanced speaker, there will be times where you need to ask people to repeat, to speak slower, etc so the quicker you can access “these tools” from the beginning, the more chances the conversation will stay in Spanish regardless of your level.


  • Mastering Spanish conversation “fillers” like “claro”, “pues”, “bueno”, “venga”, “vale” will really help you with the flow and natural feel to the conversation.


  • Politely request to speak Spanish after someone has just replied in English (as many times as necessary!) “perdona, pero quiero hablar en español. Estoy aprendiendo y necesito practicar”(sorry, but I’d like to speak Spanish. I’m learning and need to practice) Add a friendly smile and most people will switch back 😉


Of course, the better your pronunciation, intonation and rhythm, the more chances of avoiding English. 

But above all, remember it’s nothing to do with you or your level, it’s just a common challenge that most people experience. So if it (or when) happens to you, take it as an opportunity to overcome it 👍

Want to get inspired on how to take action with your Spanish?

Subscribe and join our community!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.