There are two aspects to language learning in Ecuador. First, life will be enormously more complete and easy if you learn Spanish. “One on one” lessons are $8 an hour here which makes it very economical to take long term lessons. It will be quite a challenge to learn Spanish well but, having been here for seven months, we have already picked up a lot though I’m sure it is quite crude. The pronunciation is the most difficult part as words similar to those in English are pronounced differently. As an example, our word “President” is pronounced “Pres eh den te.” It should be simple as there are about 850 words that are identical in both languages but it takes hard work. There are so many dialects, one for Guayaquil, one for Quito, one for Cuenca and others for people from Peru or Columbia or Argentina. All are so different that I personally have a much more difficult time “hearing it.” We will start our “one on one” lessons soon and, I’m sure they will make our lives even more normal and useful. On the other hand, there is the almost universal desire for Ecuadorians to also know how to speak English. Schools, both public and private teach English on some level. It is always interesting to find a family where the child is the one who does the translating for the family. Our child, Jonny is almost five and is in school with all Spanish speaking kids. He is beginning to use his Spanish at school but uses very little with us. Children, who hear Spanish all day in school, are bound to pick it up quicker than adults who have lost that “ear” for language.
A New Kind of Blog
There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.