Dakar - 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?

French is pretty essential. There is an excellent Institut Francais that offers language classes and cultural events, and many private tutors are available at reasonable prices. - Jul 2020

It is helpful to have French or Wolof to get around, but some locals do speak some English. Not cabbies, though! The Embassy offers language classes and tutors are available. - Dec 2019

You can get by without it, but life is waaay easier if you speak some French. - Dec 2018

A lot of people speak English, but French is recommended. Tutoring for free at that Embassy or for a fee downtown at the Institute. - Dec 2018

French is essential. The clearest indicator I see in whether my co-workers enjoy Dakar or not is whether they speak French. You can survive without it, but it will be a constant challenge. Household staff and people in the service industry don't speak English, and there is a large Francophone expat community who are happy to welcome non-native speakers, but won't accommodate people who don't speak French at all. I don't speak Wolof or other local languages, and have no problem without that. - Jun 2017

French. Wolof helps for negotiating for things like fruit and veg, but French will definitely get you by. - Apr 2016

English speakers are rare. French is needed if you plan to do anything outside the embassy. The Embassy is home to a lot of agencies other than DOS and I'm always amazed that so many people from other agencies are assigned here with no language training or skills. - Aug 2015

French definitely makes your daily life easier. Very few locals speak English, so speaking even the most basic French would help you get around town and negotiate with taxis. - Aug 2014

Wolof - The more you know, the better off you will be. Speak good French, at least! - Apr 2014

A lot. English is not spoken here -- nor is it understood. Come with French; you will need it. - Jun 2013

You need French. The more the better. - Mar 2013

No one speaks English. You can deal with most commercial establishments in French. If you want to go to the local market, you'll need Wolof (and an inhuman amount of patience). - Oct 2012

Some French is essential. Most people speak Wolof, Puular, or other native dialects, the educated speak French. Some people know English. - Mar 2012

French is strongly recommended. Wolof, the local language would be beneficial but it is not needed as long as you can speak French. - Aug 2011

French is pretty critical - there is very little English - Jan 2011

Plenty. Some basic french is essential and some basic Wolof goes along way. - Feb 2010

The more French and local language you know the better. - Feb 2010

Much better to know at least French and also some Wolof (10 sentences will make them very happy already) to enjoy your stay. - Jan 2010

French is the language of the country. Few people speak English. - May 2009

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