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

Locals really appreciate you having a few words. Amharic is a fascinating language but difficult to learn (may be easier for those who speak some Arabic). - Aug 2020


Amharic is a difficult language. Knowing a few phrases is helpful, but the country speaks 80 different dialects. - Mar 2020


None, but it is considered polite to have basic greetings. Tutors can be expensive. I have seen math tutors ask for US$70/hour. Be prepared to negotiate prices, and walk away if the price is too high. - Feb 2020


Learning some basic Amharic can be helpful and opens up doors, people seem more willing to help. Many Ethiopian speak English. There are classes and tutors teaching Amharic. - Feb 2019


You will get a lot of praise if you speak Amharic, but you can get by without, although you will need to use gestures a lot. - Oct 2018


Little, you can find plenty of English speaker. - Aug 2018


You can get by without Amharic, but it is definitely helpful if you speak even a word of it. You can bring smiles on locals. :-). Classes and tutors are available. - Jul 2018


For shopping and getting around, you will be fine with English, but it is always very helpful to know a few phrases in Amharic. - Jan 2018


I speak no Amharic beyond pleasantries and rarely have a problem making myself understood, though taxi drivers may need some supplemental hand gestures. My housekeeper runs a lot of my errands for me, which helps a lot. Classes are available at similar rates to the U.S. - Sep 2017


Lots of Ethiopians do not speak English well or at all although it is taught in school (speaks directly to the level of education but that's another issue). I believe university is in English too although not totally sure. Where you will run into the most trouble is likely in the taxis b/c frequently, they have little to no English and with the lack of addresses? you can see where the challenges are. I think there is a "survival Amharic" class at the embassy. - Aug 2016


Purportedly you can get along in English here. English is legally the language of schooling from high school through university. But it's a measure of how low the general educational level is that English is not really common. Many speak a few words, but rarely do you find someone who really can communicate. From household help to restaurants and grocery stores, it's difficult. Amharic is not easy to learn, with its own alphabet and an unusual grammar. There is a post language program, but not consistently. I see signs for local classes, but unsure of quality. - Aug 2016


None, as long as your household staff speak English passably well. - Feb 2016


Amharic is a very difficult language to learn. It helps to have some but you can get by without it. Just don't expect everyone to speak English and even those who graduated from university (all high school and university is conducted in English) don't necessarily speak or read very well. - May 2014


English is fine. If you don't speak English, basic Amharic is necessary. - Jan 2014


None, really -- most Ethiopians speak English. - Nov 2013


Don't need much. - Jun 2012


Not that much, really, although it is really good for reaching out to know a modest amount of Amharic. - Aug 2010


Very little. Ethiopians greatly appreciate foreigners' attempts to speak Amharic or other local languages, but very few do. - Jun 2010


Knowing some Amharic is helpful. The more you learn, the easier it will be to get by. However, many foreigners who live here don't speak it and they manage. - Mar 2008


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More