Non-Spanish speaker in Valencia: A Survival Kit

Here you are. Freshly arrived in Spain, and not knowing much Spanish except No hablo español. Thankfully, the International Relations Office at CEU Valencia helps you from even before you arrive. But still, it won’t hurt to have in mind some useful stuffs to get around Valencia on your own. Here is a survival kit if you don’t know Spanish.


To start with, here are some tricks!

Get around the language problem: ¿Habla inglés?

As you will notice, Spanish is translated almost everywhere in Valencia… but in Valencian, the local language! First rule of survival: don’t panic and hold onto what you know: any other language. Ask ¿Habla ingles? You might be lucky and find yourself in front of an English-speaking Spaniards! If English doesn’t work, try all the languages you know until it does. And if not, keep on reading this article! 

Try as much as possible to infer the meaning

If you know any other “Latin” language (it will be easier with Italian or Portuguese; French works to some extent; English is already quite too far), you are lucky. Indeed, Spanish is one of the closest living language to Latin in terms of vocabulary and conjugations. With some thinking, you may be able to understand Spanish thanks to another language and their common Latin roots. Keep in mind that far-fetching can sometimes be key to successful inference! 

Hold onto what is written…

…because Spaniards speak really fast. If you can find anything written anywhere before you have to engage conversation, get as much info as you can. Indeed, expecting the words you might hear may help you spot them and understand what you’re told. Yes: the cocktail party effect also works in case of foreign languages! 

The Internet can save you

It is now your last resort: type exactly what you wish to say in a translator app and try not to max out your internet.  

And now, a list of words and expressions you might need… 

First contact

  • Hola, ¿qué tal?Hellohow are you? 
  • Me llamo X. My name is X.  
  • ¿Cómo te llamas?What’s your name? 
  • Encantado.Enchanté. 

Establishing you don’t speak Spanish

  • ¿Habla inglés? ¿italiano? ¿alemán? ¿francés? ¿chino? = Do you speak English? Italian? German? FrenchChinese? 
  • No hablo español. = I don’t speak Spanish 
  • Perdona, no entiendo. ¿Puedes repetir?Sorry, I don’t understandCould you repeat? 
  • ¿Puedes hablar más despacio?Could you speak slower? 
  • No entiendo. = I don’t understand 
  • No entiendo nada de nada. = I don’t understand anything. 

Getting practical information

  • ¿Qué significa la palabra “…”?What does the word “…” mean? 
  • ¿Dónde está la salida? ¿el punto de encuentro?Where is the exitThe meeting point? 
  • Perdona, nos hemos perdido.Sorrywe are lost 
  • ¿Puedes ayudarme?Can you help me? 
  • Estoy buscando la plaza de la Virgen.I’m looking for plaza de la Virgen.  
  • ¿Puedes indicarme dónde se encuentra en el mapa? = Can you show me where it is on the map 

I hope you feel able to go around on your own now! If you still don’t, check our tips for Spanish-learning in Valencia!


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