Bogota - 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?

A lot. This is a difficult post without Spanish skills. The local population is not proficient in English. Spanish classes are available and are relatively affordable. - Aug 2023

You NEED Spanish here. You can’t get by with out it. 1 + is recommended just to get by anywhere in Colombia. There are lots of options for classes and tutoring in person or online. - Feb 2021

Spanish definitely helps. - Jul 2020

Spanish is very helpful. I don't speak Spanish, but get by with my few phrases. Lots of language schools and tutors are available. - Feb 2020

You really need Spanish. Unlike other U.S. embassies I have worked at, Spanish is the working language for most offices even inside the embassy. You'll want some level of Spanish for nearly all interactions, and the people who have the hardest time here are the ones who came without any Spanish. - Nov 2018

You really have to have Spanish and the more the better. You can get a private tutor for about COP $50k/hour. I've taken classes at Universidad Sergio Arboleta that cost about US$220 for a month of classes that run two hours a day. There are many other options that I see posted on Facebook groups. - Sep 2018

Not a whole lot of English is spoken, definitely not in grocery stores, pharmacies or most restaurants. You can, of course, find professionals (doctors, etc) who speak English. I know very very few expats who don't know any Spanish at all. Lots of great schools and tutors available at very low prices. I did a full-time program for two months when we arrived and it helped me acclimate much faster. - Aug 2018

Native Spanish speakers (and their spouses) will have a different experience and quality of life here than those of us who are still learning Spanish. Very little English is spoken, since there has not been a lot of tourism here historically. The 3/3 Spanish level is really essential for quality of life here. Most of the service industry (restaurants, shops, telephone/internet providers) does not speak English, so Spanish is essential for getting basic services. There are local language schools and classes available (with varying prices). Lots of personal tutors are also available. - May 2018

It's not absolutely mandatory, but life would be most easier and you'd enjoy your time much more if you spoke some Spanish. - Apr 2016

English is not too common, but a working level of Spanish help you get get along. - Aug 2015

You absolutely need Spanish to function. - Aug 2014

English is found in the more touristy areas but a small level of Spanish is needed for daily living. Spouses and family members can get by with limited vocabulary for shopping, transporation, and numbers. - Jun 2014

The more the better. Many Bogotanos, especially younger ones, have some English. Cab drivers generally have none, so it's good idea to write down the address that you want. - May 2013

Depends on who you integrate with. Try to have at least enough to order at a restaurant. - Oct 2012

This is a post where knowing Spanish will definitely help you. - Jul 2012

It's essential to have a good grasp of Spanish, although, unless you are a Native speaker they will peg you as a foreigner anyway and you will pay double for anything that is negotiable. - Apr 2012

Knowing Spanish makes a big difference in your ability to connect with locals and explore the local culture. - Dec 2011

Lots of folks speak english, but I think it helps to have a basic level of spanish here. It is hard to get anything done with out it. - Jul 2011

You need to speak fluent spanish to survive. Not even the preschool teachers speak english. - Nov 2010

I find it very rare that anyone speaks English. I highly recommend you come here knowing some Spanish. - Sep 2010

You should expect no one to speak English to you. - Aug 2010

I don't see how anyone gets along here without Spanish. It would be really hard, although some people do it. - Aug 2010

Spanish is essential for survival. The more you know, the easier it gets. - Aug 2010

You definitely need spanish to survive here. There are some people here who speak only english, but most people speak at least some spanish. - Jun 2010

You can't live there without Spanish and expect to have any kind of life. - Jan 2010

You really need some Spanish to get around Bogota. Very few people speak English. - Sep 2009

I've actually come across more English speakers outside Bogota than in Bogota. Regardless, Spanish is indispensible. It can be a problem especially for spouses, even when dealing with FSNs at the embassy. - Dec 2008

Spanish is required to live comfortably. - Dec 2008

Yes, let me tell you, you need Spanish like you need to breathe, if you don't have it life will be extremely difficult and frustrating. So take some classes before coming here other wise don't come. - Nov 2008

A lot; educated people speak English, but many street folks do not. - Nov 2008

You cannot live here happily without Spanish. There are only a handful of people who speak English none of whom work at the preschool, work as a maid/nanny. It is extremely difficult for my spouse here who has no Spanish. I enjoy it immensely but I'm about at a level 3 Spanish. - May 2008

You need a lot of Spanish. - Apr 2008


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