Spanish: The Key to Authentic San Miguel Living

Maybe I’m slightly, if not very, biased when it comes to this subject, as I’ve worked as a foreign language teacher for the last 20 years. However, I believe this has given me a fortunate insight into the importance of speaking the native language of the country you choose to live in—even if it’s just the basics.

Personally, I’ve always loved languages, even though I struggle on a daily basis to learn them! I wholeheartedly understand that this process is not for everyone, and for those who choose not to pursue this path or simply find it too frustrating or difficult, I get it; there’s no judgment here.

But just consider this: if you’re thinking about moving to San Miguel de Allende and the one key that can unlock a world of authentic experiences and deeper connections is learning the local language, would you give it a shot?

Just to persuade you a little more, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of speaking the local lingo.

The Benefits of Speaking the Local Language

  • Immersive and Authentic Experiences: Speaking the local language allows you to dive headfirst into the culture, traditions, and everyday life of San Miguel de Allende. You’ll be able to understand the nuances of conversations, appreciate the humor in local jokes, and truly become a part of the community.
  • Appreciation from Locals: When you make an effort to speak the local language, you show respect for the culture and the people. This effort doesn’t go unnoticed. Locals will appreciate your attempts to communicate in their language, leading to warmer interactions and a more welcoming environment. 
  • Improved Treatment: As you learn to converse in the local language, you’ll notice a shift in how you’re treated. You’ll be seen as someone who appreciates and respects the local culture, rather than just another tourist.
  • Boosting Confidence and Brain Power: Learning a new language is a fantastic way to challenge your brain and boost your confidence. As you master new words and phrases, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and your cognitive abilities will also get a workout.
  • Making New Friends: Speaking the local language opens up opportunities to make new friends, not only for you but also for your children, and engage in local communities. You’ll be able to participate in conversations, attend local events, and form connections that might not have been possible otherwise.

My personal experience: The myth of speaking ‘perfectly’

I’ve been told on a regular basis that I speak Spanish ‘perfectly’. This simply isn’t true, in fact it couldn’t be further from the truth. I constantly mix up tenses and masculines/feminines will forever be a mystery to me. But I think that the compliments stem from the fact that I make an effort in Spanish, rather than just assuming the other person speaks my native language. In my humble opinion, it’s not about grammatical perfection, it’s about communication, respect, and a willingness to put yourself out there. 

Learning the Language: Where to Start

Try ordering food from delicious street stalls to learn new vocabulary and gain confidence.
  • Local Language Schools: San Miguel de Allende has several language schools in a range of neighborhoods offering immersive courses where you can dive right into learning. These schools offer a place where you and your classmates can stumble, laugh, and learn together. It’s structured, sure, but it’s also a whole lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet new friends.
  • Private Tutors: For a more personalized learning experience, consider hiring a private tutor. They can tailor lessons to your pace and provide one-on-one attention, take you to some of their favorite local hang-outs, and offer great San Miguel insights.
  • Talking in Shops: Don’t underestimate the power of everyday interactions. Simply speaking with shopkeepers, waitstaff, house staff, or your neighbors can provide valuable practice and help you pick up colloquial phrases.
  • Online Courses: If you prefer learning at your own pace, online language courses can be a great option. They offer flexibility and a wide range of resources, all in the comfort of your PJ’s. Just don’t forget to step outside and chat with real people – your home office can’t give you that!
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Trust me, consistency is key in language learning – a little goes a long way! Just like this friend I met the other day – she moved here, switched her phone to Spanish, and bam! Now she’s schooling me in tech-talk in Spanish. So, keep at it, a few words every day, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you pick things up.
Local social events are a great way to practice
Kids are sponges when it comes to learning languages

Learning the local language when relocating to San Miguel de Allende isn’t just about communication—it’s about immersing yourself in a rich culture, forming deeper connections, and truly becoming a part of the community. So, as you plan your move, make language learning a priority. It’s a decision I promise, you won’t regret.

List of Spanish Schools in San Miguel de Allende

Here’s a quick list of recommended language schools in San Miguel de Allende, in alphabetical order. Please get in touch with us if you have any other suggestions for schools, private tutors and alternative language learning resources. 

We’d love to hear about your language learning experiences, faux pas, and achievements in the comments if you feel like sharing.