Mexico City - 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?

Language isn’t needed, but it’s appreciated and it’s nice to have some understanding. - Jan 2024

Spanish is really pretty important here, even in the more touristy areas of the city (e.g. Polanco). Even when locals speak English, they aren't generally enthusiastic about using it like in other parts of Latin America. This is also the only place I've been posted where local officials don't switch into English in work meetings. - Jul 2023

I speak about a 2/2 level of Spanish and I’ve found it VERY helpful if not totally necessary. Classes abound. - Apr 2021

Spanish can definitely make your life easier here, but there are also many Mexicans who speak English. From what I have heard, those who do not have any or much Spanish have appreciated the language classes at the Embassy or tutors they recommend. - May 2020

I think you need to definitely know basic Spanish. I have gotten by but definitely wished I had tried to learn more. I also rely on Google translate if I really need to communicate something and don't feel confident that I will get my point across with the little Spanish that I do know. I also find that many people know English, but will not speak to you in English, or have to really see you struggling to communicate before they reveal that they speak English. - Apr 2019

Some people speak English but most people don't. Having some Spanish will make a huge difference. There is an excellent language school through UNAM in Polanco (CEPE) that offers intensive courses. You can also find tutors or informal classes. - Apr 2019

I'd say knowing some Spanish is essential to enjoying your time in Mexico. From what I have seen, some locals speak English, but the majority do not. Classes are available for free at the embassy and many hire local tutors for between US$15-$25 per hour. - Jun 2018

You should try to learn Spanish. While some people speak English, the majority do not. - May 2017

You need a lot of Spanish. For such a sophisticated city, there is surprisingly little English. The more Spanish you have, the more enjoyable your time here will be. Mexicans are very friendly and love to chat, so you'll have more satisfying experiences if you speak Spanish. - Sep 2016

That depends on your work and your degree of socialization; I would say it's needed and useful. Most of the maids and security guards don't speak English. Neither do the people working at market stands and shops. Upon arriving here, I expected more people to speak English. But why should they? The burden is on us. But many young and people do speak English. Sometimes people will be shy using it, though, because they do not know it well enough to be comfortable with it. - Jun 2016

I arrived already speaking Spanish, and I imagine it would be difficult not knowing the basics. - May 2016

I think you need to learn Spanish. - May 2016

Depends on where you are. In Polanco, some of the restaurants have menus in English. Always assume in an Uber/taxi or restaurant that someone nearby speaks English, but don't expect it. In other words, watch what you say, don't be offensive, but don't expect people to speak English either. - May 2016

Some. I arrived with almost nothing and have picked up a LOT without classes; you do need to know some Spanish because hardly anyone speaks English. The Embassy has classes available for free to employees and EFMs. - Oct 2014

You really need Spanish to be able to get around. Hardly anyone speaks English so having at least the basics will go a long way. - Aug 2014

To survive, very little. But to really get to know people, a good amount. - Apr 2014

There are plenty of English speaking people here, however, most of the domestic service providers don't speak English so make sure you have some basics. - Mar 2014

You can get by without Spanish, but if you will be staying for a while, you need Spanish. I was surprised at how little English is spoken/understood. No cabbies spoke English to my knowledge. Museums, restaurants, no one - and if you plan on traveling anywhere outside of Cancun or Cabo, you'll need it, unless you're staying with expats or in a B&B owned by a foreigner. So, at the least, come with the basics. - Dec 2013

It's important to speak some Spanish. - Jul 2013

You do need to be able to communicate in the local language if you want to do some real shopping. The cashiers and store keepers do not speak English, except in the heavy tourist areas. For daily living, you need the local language to get around. - Jan 2013

The more Spanish the better, English is only spoken by the upper middle class and above. Most restaurants have English menus available if needed. - Jan 2013

I spoke Spanish before, improved during, and it is better to know the language, especially in the provinces. Most people speak English in the capital. - May 2012

Not much. Many Spanish words can be recognized by an English speaker anyway. - Apr 2011

A basic knowledge of Spanish is ideal, but you will find English speakers among younger people. - Apr 2010

A lot. It is very rare to find someone who speaks English here. - Feb 2010

More the better. Outside the wealthier areas, most Mexicans know little English. - Jan 2010

Very few people speak English. Makes your tour a million times more enjoyable if you can make some friendships with local Mexicans. - Mar 2009

You "could" survive on English only; however I would not want to live that way. It causes too much attention to be a victim of crime. Speaking Spanish does make life easier. - Nov 2008

This is definitely a must unless you have full time help that is bi-lingual (doubtful) and willing to accompany you everywhere. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You must have the language to fully appreciate this country and live comfortably. I took 10 years of Spanish, can understand it about 85% of the time, and can communicate about 40% of what I want to say. I find it terribly frustrating. If I had the time and money, I would take full-time immersion Spanish when living here. However, this is an expensive endeavor, and I have a full-time job that doesn't allow this luxury. - Oct 2008

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