We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is English widely spoken?

Pelham, Canada
Level Contributor
291 posts
70 reviews
33 helpful votes
Is English widely spoken?
Save

Hi all, we are Canadians looking to travel to Southern Spain in September, considering Malaga due to the history and ease of getting around. We could order a beer in Spanish, but not much else. Would this pose a problem?

Arroyo de la Miel...
Level Contributor
24,696 posts
179 reviews
71 helpful votes
1. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

I dont think you will struggle really. Most of the coastal resort towns speak enough English for you to get by. Less so in Malaga city, but again most places will have English menu` alongside Spanish. The costa del sol gets loads of English visitors, many of which dont speak a word of Spanish. You`ll be fine.

Pelham, Canada
Level Contributor
291 posts
70 reviews
33 helpful votes
2. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

Thanks for the response. I had been wondering if we would be better off in a more touristy area and then do day trips to Malaga. We really enjoy history, architecture, local pubs, as well as some beach time. What area do you think is best?

Arroyo de la Miel...
Level Contributor
24,696 posts
179 reviews
71 helpful votes
3. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

Any of the "tourist" towns along the railway line connecting Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos to Malaga. Trains run every 20 mins and are cheap to use.

Aberdeen, Scotland
Destination Expert
for Aberdeen
Level Contributor
12,179 posts
58 reviews
49 helpful votes
4. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

It really depends on your preference, and how you will spend most of your time.

If you want most of your time by the beach (or pub) with occasional trips for history then consider one of the " tourist towns mentioned, or maybe Marbella.

If you think you want daily visits to the historic and cultural sights, and prefer a city vibe, then choose Malaga. Malaga would also have easier direct access if you want a few day/ overnight trips to the likes of Granada, Rhonda or Cordoba.

Down the coast a bit in Marbella, it is easy to visit the likes of Rhonda, Tarifa, Granada by bus.

You'll get by language wise wherever you choose, and you can practise a few basics before you travel.

Malaga, Spain
Level Contributor
83,163 posts
3,805 reviews
3,579 helpful votes
5. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

JMH:

English is spoken widely in Malaga. Most of the waiters in restaurants will understand you. Many restaurants have menus in English.

Malaga, Spain
Level Contributor
5,171 posts
4 reviews
5 helpful votes
6. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

Many people working in the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants) are used to deal with foreign people who don't speak the language, so don't worry, you won't have any problems.

The English skills of your average Malagueño are not something to brag about though. Younger generations intensely study the language during primary and high school, but since we dub movies and TV shows, while many younger people will be able to communicate they will have a hard time trying to understand your accent.

I speak English to my kids, we take them to a bilingual school, and have a lovely American woman who comes home twice a week to give them private lessons, and still it is hard that they make progress in the language.

Torremolinos, Spain
Destination Expert
for Torremolinos
Level Contributor
6,987 posts
102 reviews
178 helpful votes
7. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

There are several problems. I can make myself understood in Spanish but have great difficulty in understanding the reply which can be embarrassing, I often have to pretend to be hard of hearing! The accent here is very thick but then I have difficulty with a Glaswegian or a Geordie speaking English.

Then if the Malagueno wants to learn English there will be a battle royal between me trying to practice my Spanish and him practising his English. They usually win but again I may not understand so deafness comes in. If I ask them to speak more slowly that works for a couple of words and then back to rapid Spanish, mind you the English are just as bad when a Spaniard tells them they are speaking too quickly ( cultural difference, the English ask, the Spanish tell!)

The one bit of common folklore I have yet to find is that the Spanish appreciate you trying. They have a wonderful way of showing their disdain and will show immediately that there is no point in speaking in anything other than their English,whatever the level.

It's fun, enjoy.

Edited: 10 years ago
Pelham, Canada
Level Contributor
291 posts
70 reviews
33 helpful votes
8. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

Thanks, we look forward to the experience!

Ian
Leeds U.K.
Level Contributor
13,375 posts
49 reviews
64 helpful votes
9. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

The local train runs Malaga to Fuengirola, staying on this route will allow you to visit a number of areas. A lot of trains/buses start from malaga to Granada, Antequera, Nerja etc., so staying close to Malaga makes sense, unless you will for ever be coming back to Malaga to start off a day trip.

You should not have problems with the language, the Spanish love to show off their language skills.

Aberdeen, Scotland
Destination Expert
for Aberdeen
Level Contributor
12,179 posts
58 reviews
49 helpful votes
10. Re: Is English widely spoken?
Save

I was stopped one day in Malaga, by a 5' tall little Berlisconi type Italian guy, with his brassy blonde Russian girlfriend- both well past their prime ( but no one had told them yet!) He was raging at the lack of English spoken in Malaga, as no one could tell them where to find the discos- on a midweek afternoon!!!!!!!,

Get answers to your questions about Malaga
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in United Kingdom. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.