Learning Spanish: Begin By Listening - Part 1

I remain convinced the primary reason why so many Americans are attracted to Mexico is in the Gringolandias, or Gringo Expat Enclaves, they will never be faced with what seems to be the overwhelming task of learning Spanish. The British, I am told, do the same thing in the south of France. An intricate and well-organized expat infrastructure awaits the would-be retiree and alleviates the fear of having to master the language. Everything is organized around the monolingual Gringo and negates any need whatsoever to learn Spanish.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is not within the scope of this series, "Begin By Listening." I think the point is, and most of my readers would agree, if I am going to gripe and complain why something called a "Gringolandia" should even exist, then I should provide an answer or solution instead of criticizing all the time. I have been writing for years about how to go about overcoming the fear of learning Spanish. However, it wouldn't hurt to go over it again, perhaps in a new and different light.

Two important advantages of learning Spanish, if you plan to retire to Mexico, are:

You could significantly increase your social standing and sense of community if you were able to socialize with more than the other gringos in the Gringolandias. In Southeast Asia, the locals used to call this phenomenon "Social Incest." The Americans, mostly those in the Foreign Service, would live in American enclaves and only socialize with one another. Their ability to mix with the locals was non-existent because they didn't know the languages. Unlike their then cold-war counterparts, the Russians, the American Foreign Service workers were then, as they are today, not required to have any language fluency nor develop it onsite. The Russians arrived onsite with bilingual and bicultural fluency. Fluency before arriving in the country—imagine!

Without the language, your social involvement is severely limited to only those who speak English. That can and should change, in my view.

The other reason is that in the Gringolandias, the real estate for residential housing can cost much more than in your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mexican neighborhoods. Not always is this true, but you will have an ability to ferret these deals out if you are bilingual.

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