Ulaanbaatar - Post Report Question and Answers

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

Not much. A surprising number of people speak English in UB, especially the younger folks. Local language classes are available and affordable. - Jan 2024

While living in Ulaanbaatar, you can largely get by with English but using Mongolian niceties is greatly appreciated. Once you leave the capital, many people do not speak English and you need to use basic Mongolian language. Free Mongolian language classes are available to both employees and families members at the U.S. Embassy. - Aug 2022

We were told that English is spoken everywhere in UB, but that's definitely not the case. Most young Mongolians do have a basic grasp of English, which is helpful, but I have found it challenging for any interactions out of the ordinary to not have Mongolian skills. I do recommend the Post Language Program as it has been helpful to move slightly beyond the basics, though after a year, I still feel pretty inadequate in Mongolian. - Jan 2022

You can get by without the language. Knowing a few niceties will be appreciated but Mongolians do not expect you to know the language and will be surprised if you do. Many speak English and miming goes a long way. Many older people speak Russian so if you have that it'll help. - Sep 2020

One could get by in the city but it would be highly recommended to have a guide or language skills in the countryside. - Aug 2020

Thank you, goodbye, yes, no, basic numbers will suffice. The Embassy has Mongolian teachers. Most people speak English at coffee shops, restaurants, and popular places. - Jul 2019

You can take classes through the embassy. I took classes before we arrived and I was thankful to have an understanding of the alphabet and was able to hold very, very basic conversation (the Mongolian language is no easy feat). There is enough English spoken in UB that one can easily live here without speaking Mongolian. However, outside of UB it's a different story. Not many foreigners speak Mongolian even if they have lived here for many years. - Oct 2016

It helps enormously to know some basic Mongolian - this is not an English-speaking country, although many people nowadays do learn it. Even basic Mongolian skills will generate a great deal of goodwill which makes everyday transactions much easier and more pleasant. - Feb 2015

In Ulaanbaatar, foreigners can get away with no Mongolian. One would not be able to function in the countryside without the basics. Mongolian is a difficult language, but 2-3 months of study will provide that basics that will allow good daily interactions. One has to learn Mongolian Cyrillic to do that. Russian goes a long way with Mongolians over 35. German helps a little bit as well as Chinese and Korean. - May 2012

Basics. - Feb 2012

You need to know basic words and numbers just to get around Ulaanbaatar. Almost everything is written and/or spoken in Russian and Mongolian. - Feb 2011

Any amount helps alot and is greatly appreciated by Mongolians. You do not strictly need it if you stay in an expat bubble, but it helps. - Jan 2009

Not much, but a basic level will be good for out of city travel. - Oct 2008

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