Panama 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?

Spanish is very important. Although many Panamanians speak English (with varying levels of sophistication), Spanish is required for non-work interactions. - Dec 2021

Definitely helpful to know Spanish. - Oct 2018

You don't have to have Spanish but it makes like much nicer. Plenty of opportunities exist to learn. - Sep 2018

Spanish is pretty essential. Many people do speak English, but your day-to-day needs will require Spanish. Many great Spanish schools locally - Habla Ya is highly recommended. Also, classes at the Embassy. - Mar 2017

Some. - Oct 2015

Some. - Jun 2015

Education First lists Panama as having one of the lowest rate of English-speakers in the world--very surprising given the U.S. controlled the canal until 20 years ago. I was shocked how few of my interlocuters in the Panamanian government speak even basic English, even in the Minsitry of Foreign Affairs. Not to mention the fact that the accent is very hard to understand. Spanish is essential here and life is very isolating for those who don't speak it. - May 2015

Some. - Sep 2014

You need Spanish. - Jul 2014

Spanish is definitely needed here. Hardly anyone you'd interact with on a daily basis knows even one word of English. Before I came here I was under the impression that Spanish wasn't required and that everyone knows English. That is DEFINITELY NOT the case here. Their dialect is hard to understand, too, so get used to highly-slurred Caribbean Spanish. - Mar 2014

The more Spanish you know, the happier you will be here. Many people speak English, but many don't, and when you're looking for that one thing at the store, or trying to order a pizza or make an appointment, it can be really difficult without Spanish. - Jan 2013

Panamanians speak English more than in other parts of Central America but basic Spanish will be helpful in supermarkets, taxis, etc. - Sep 2011

Surprisingly, given the time the US spent here, Spanish is very much required. Maybe it´s because we dont live in an embassy enclave. - Apr 2010

While it is possible to get around without Spanish in Panama City (although very difficult) it is impossible once you leave town - Dec 2009

You should know it if you want any kind of service. It is a fallacy that everyone knows English here. They have many Spanish course available as well. - May 2008

You need Spanish. The wealthy all speak English but for anyone else you need to speak Spanish. - Apr 2008

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