Communication in Gran Canaria

Communication is a topic that is very close to my heart as I like to talk.

In this post I share my thoughts and experiences of communicating in a foreign country.

It is not just about the dance

Communication is such an interesting topic for me for many reasons. 

  1. Anyone who knows me already, knows I like to talk!!!
  2. My job has always been in sales so I need to talk and communicate effectively.
  3. I love people and am very interested in their stories and getting to know people, and for this you need to talk.

So… Even knowing the above about me, I still decided to go to live in Gran Canaria where I don’t speak the language! Hmmmm! So yes, this has been a very interesting experience for me.

As English people we often think “we speak English” and that is all that matters. We are the worst country of people for learning other languages and often expect everyone to speak in our tongue. I have to say I suppose I have also  been surprised by the number of people here who don’t speak English, but then why should they?

One thing that I read before I came here was, that to work here you only need English, but to live here you need Spanish, and this is so true. If you want to go to the doctors, the dentist, the hairdressers, the shops, make local friends, you most definitely need to speak Spanish. To work in the tourist industry here you only need to speak English. Luckily I have managed to find a sales job here, that does only require English. 🙂

Written Communication – Shopping

food shopping

My first experience of needing better communication of the written language was food shopping. Buying food was a very early necessity. Yes, I can see that they are olives, but olives in what? Yes, I can see it is a tin of tuna, but tuna in what? Herbs and spices, well, they could just be anything. I have to say google translate has come in very handy and food shopping at first was a very slow job. Over my 5 months here it has certainly got easier and quicker.

I bought a hair colour and whilst I could have bought my usual one for three times the price I opted to buy a local brand. It must have taken me 30 minutes of going through the instructions, with the help of google, to understand whether I apply the colour to wet or dry hair, but I got there in the end.

Non Verbal Communication – Dancing


We all know that dance in itself is a form of communication and this is my passion. Luckily to dance I have not needed any words and this has been my life line. It has helped me to laugh, to smile, to meet new people, all without words. What a blessing dance and music is!

All of my best friends that I have made here have come through my dance community, all based on a mutual passion and non verbal communication.

It is easier to get to know the men of course as you are mainly dancing with them, it is however more difficult to make friends with the ladies as for this you need to speak. I have been lucky enough to meet some girls who do speak some English and some who we merely communicate with a smile and two kisses on the cheek each week.

Text Communication – Emoji’s

smiley 1

In this modern world much of our communication is through messenger, text and here in Gran Canaria mainly Whatsapp. Emoji’s  have never held such an important part of my text communication. A gif image or smiley or other emoji is often the quickest, simplest and most accurate way to communicate a feeling or message. Thank you for emoji’s.

As most of my communication is in Spanish with my growing knowledge and help from google it is meaning I am learning fast.


Confused lady 2

Everywhere I go I hear Spanish, so listening is more important than ever. I have to admit that sometimes it becomes too much and I stop listening. But the more I listen the more I understand. I am starting to be quite amazed myself and what I do actually know and understand when listening to a Spanish conversation.

In my growing frustration to be able to speak clearly with my friends and the people here in Gran Canaria. I have now started a weekly private Spanish class  to guide my self learning.  My teacher only speaks Spanish to me unless she really can’t get the message she is trying to explain across to me. I have only had one hour so far, but that was so enlightening, and has really increased my desire to improve my knowledge and given me confidence to start to speak more.

The Language of Love

heart-hands (1)Just as most of us, I dream of finding love. One thing this has taught me here is that when two people have a connection, whether that has stemmed from a smile, a look, a touch or a dance, if they want to communicate they will. It is amazing how when there is a real desire you find a way.

It has also shown me that perhaps verbal communication is really not the most important. You can say so much to someone without even saying a word, just by a look or by the things that you do. Ok, you might not get the full intricate detail of the message than if you used words, but you would still get the message non the less.

Lack of communication and the need to rely quite heavily on google has also proved to not be a bad thing, it has meant I have laughed so much at the miscommunications that have arisen and laughter is such an important form of communication.

If two people laugh together, I think you get through anything.

Non Verbal Communication – Hand and Face Gestures


I have to admit that some days communicating here can feel very much like a game of charades, lot of hand and face gestures.

I have always been quite expressive but here I think that has become much more so. There can me lots of gestures, pointing and frowning going on. All very funny.

All in all every day here of trying to communicate continues to make me smile, happy, frustrated, but most of all determined to soon be speaking fluent Spanish! 

So that I can talk to my hearts content. 🙂 

One thought on “Communication in Gran Canaria”

  1. You are absolutely right, when we find communicating difficult, for what ever reason, body language can say it all. After all dogs manage to communicate feelings and tell us what they want very easily with body language alone.
    Good luck with the Spanish. I did ‘O’ Level Spanish but much preferred French and went on to do ‘A’Level French so I have forgotten a lot of the Spanish or I try and use the French word! I think I would pick it up reasonably quickly again if I needed to.
    Keep on with the blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

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