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Cairo



How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need a little bit for taxis and the market but I don't use it as much as I thought I would. The embassy offers language classes both in Modern Standard and in the local dialect. There are also local tutors that are affordable (about $10/hr for private) - Jan 3, 2018
The embassy has a language program open to staff and family members, which many people take advantage of, many have had positive experiences with the program and the instructors offer classes during the work day and after hours. Many Egyptians speak some English, given the previous prevalence of tourists. Of course, knowing some Arabic will enrich your experience. You can survive in Cairo without Arabic. - Sep 9, 2017
Arabic is helpful for getting around and negotiating at markets. Most people in the expat areas and at tourist sites speak *some* English, however. - May 25, 2017
Very little, but many classes available. - May 16, 2017
It helps to know basic directional words and numbers for taxis and shopping. That's about all I learned and I was fine. Most educated, wealthy Egyptians speak English. Where I missed out not speaking Arabic was in interactions with people other than these. Like anywhere, you get more out of it if you speak the language. However, I still was able to have a fulfilling time without it. - Jan 30, 2016
Some for taxis, grocery shopping. Most educated Egyptians speak at least some English. - Jan 29, 2016
It's nice to know common greetings but so many people speak English here. - Oct 8, 2014
It's definitely a strong advantage, but a lot of people speak English well enough and we can get by. - Aug 19, 2014
Some,but English is widely understood in the expat areas. - Aug 19, 2014
Arabic helps a lot - for taxis, green grocer, etc. - May 28, 2014
It's useful to know enough to ask for directions and give directions to taxi drivers. - Apr 2, 2014
It's very helpful to have some Arabic. - Mar 27, 2014
Not a bunch. People appreciate you speaking it, but you don't really need more than 5 or 6 phrases to get by. - Jul 23, 2013
Some taxi Arabic is extremely useful (left, straight, right, stop, and numbers). The American commiunity is quite large and it is possible to not really interact with Egyptians over the course of a given day. On the flip side, if you don't want to go overseas just to talk with other Americans, some Arabic (especially Egyptian dialect Arabic) is a must. - Jul 17, 2013
The more the better. Those who don't speak arabic seem to have a harder time adjusting. - Jun 16, 2013
Knowing Arabic has definitely enriched my experience here and made me feel more comfortable. However, many do not speak any Arabic and they are doing just fine. - Jun 7, 2013
Not much. It is helpful to know your numbers and directions for cabs. Also grocery store stuff, such as weights and names of foods. Time is also another good one. Many Egyptians in the expat and tourist areas speak a little English. - May 22, 2013
I recommend speaking Arabic (Egyptian-dialect Arabic) if you are going to live here. - May 12, 2013
It is not really needed, but it is always helpful. Shopkeepers have basic English. Arabic for taxis is helpful. - May 12, 2013
Far less than you would expect. Egyptians are very welcoming of any effort to try to speak Arabic (most realize that it isn't an easy language), and I have found that many people speak at least the basics of English. It helps to have basic "taxi Arabic" - things like left, right, straight ahead - and to know your address. It also helps to learn the basic bits of politeness! I know many expats who have been here for years, never leave the expat bubble, and have gotten by with almost no Arabic to speak of. Despite my efforts, my Arabic is very weak, but a few after-work classes have given me enough to get by with the basics. - Feb 1, 2013
If all you ever do is interact with expats, and if you have a driver who speaks Arabic, then you can get by with little. You'll also feel very restricted and claustrophobic. English is not as widely spoke here as one might expect. Not having any Arabic is a handicap and will impact morale. - Feb 14, 2013
Basic Arabic is useful. - Mar 31, 2013
It would be unsafe to come here without Arabic. - Mar 26, 2013
A lot more than people tell you. You will feel pretty isolated if you don't have some level of conversatinal ability, and everything will cost three times as much. - Feb 13, 2013
You need some basic Arabic -- some Egyptians will try and speak English to you, but then it's usually some type of scam. - Jan 18, 2013
It is a bit helpful to know numbers and directional words (left, right, straight). Pleasantries are appreciated. :) In Maadi, at least, many know English. - Nov 27, 2012
Very little. However, many signs aren't in English. - Sep 20, 2011
Depends on the neighborhood. Generally, Cairenes speak better English than I do Arabic. - Aug 4, 2011
It makes all the difference. - Aug 4, 2011
None. Most shopkeepers, cab drivers, and offices will be staffed with at least a few people who can speak enough English to complete whatever transaction you need. However, you will have a much richer experience if you try to learn some spoken Arabic. It makes people happy if you try. - Jul 19, 2011
A bit. English is prevalent. But in a taxi or most stores you need basic Arabic. - Jun 5, 2011
You can get by without learning Arabic, but you'll have a much richer and rewarding experience if you obtain at least a basic understanding. - Sep 22, 2010
I speak no Arabic and have had no issues except at the airport. - Jun 26, 2010
Most people speak at least a little English, but knowing some Arabic goes a long way towards building relationships with Egyptians - they are thrilled beyond belief when foreigners can speak Arabic. - Dec 2, 2009
A little bit for giving directions and getting prices - basic shopping. - May 12, 2008