martes, 5 de enero de 2010

¿Habla inglés?

So you have decided to visit Venezuela.

I have worked with several foreigners. Many of them decided on a whim to come to this country hoping to learn more about a nation known for its oil and, to some extent, its beautiful women.

Needless to say, culture shock is to be expected, but there are things you can learn to make your stay less daunting and a bit more pleasant.

¿Habla inglés? Do you speak English?

Several of my foreign colleagues were under the impression that people in Caracas (Venezuela's capital) spoke English. Some people do, but most of these people have a 9 to 5 job and they rarely leave their office. Some people work in language institutes.

Bus drivers, subway employees, cashiers, etc. do not speak any English.

Hotels employees are required to speak both Spanish and English, but it all depends on the hotel chosen. A Frenchman I recently met was shocked to learn the employees of a well known hotel in Caracas spoke very little English.

Hence, my first recommendation: before you decide to venture into this geographically beautiful and, at times, chaotic country, try to learn some basic Spanish. At the very least, you will be able to order something to eat and to ask for help.

Do beware though, Venezuelans speak very fast and we tend to omit certain letters.