Bamako - 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?

It would be difficult to get around without at least survival French. Very few expats speak Bambara, but it would also be useful. - Apr 2021

You need a basic level of French to do most things in Bamako. There are French tutors, as well as Bambara (the local language) teachers available at the Embassy and on the economy. - Apr 2017

Educated Malians speak French otherwise Bambara is spoken throughout. You will need to know some French to get anything done. - Aug 2014

Very little English is spoken. French is the business language, but on the street very little French is spoken or understood. Bambara is what you need to get things done outside of work. You'll wonder why you worked so hard to learn French when you can't even buy tomatoes on the street in French. - Jul 2011

You must speak French. In the capital most of the people speak French, but outside the capital a few speak French. If you want to speak to their 'heart' though, you should try to speak some basic Bambara: basic greetings, etc. - Jul 2011

For professional interactions, French is essential. I would recommend learning some Bambara for interactions with individuals who are not well-educated (and therefore unlikely to speak French). - Oct 2010

none, but it helps. French is very crucial if you want to talk to the locals. Not many speaks english - May 2010

I think French is an absolute must. NO ONE speaks English. Knowing the greetings in one of the local languages is not necessary but goes a long, LONG way with not much effort. - Sep 2009

Having some French will allow you to get by without a problem. - Apr 2009

You'll need to dust off that high school French, mes amis. - Feb 2009

You need French. Hardly anyone speaks English. - Feb 2009

English is very rarely spoken, so you really need to speak some French. The locals love it if you try to speak a few words of Bambara. - Jan 2009

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