Thousands of British and other English speaking people live or spend a lot of time in Andalucia. When first setting up home, the temptation is to make friends with fellow English speakers, rather than make an effort with the Spanish language. This is understandable, but studying Spanish is ultimately the best way forward.
If you need to communicate urgently, there are specific services that you will help you. There are telephone based companies who can set up a three way phone conference, translating back and forwards between you and the third party, to quickly solve a problem. Before you have mastered the language yourself, you may need assistance to get you through these difficult times. Once you are on your feet and have learned some Spanish yourself and a neighbour or friend needs some help, if you are too busy, you can always pass on the number to them!
It is important that you make an effort to speak Spanish, especially if your aim is to live and work here. Even if you spend vacation time in Andalucia, the experience will be greatly enriched by friendly communication with the locals. There are many good language schools that run many different types of courses, such as evening classes, weekend and summer courses. There are special courses for foreigners learning Spanish run by the Spanish Universities (e.g. Malaga, Granada, Seville, etc.).
In the last few years, the local town halls, especially along the Costa del Sol and also in some inland towns in Andalucia, have created Spanish classes for foreigners. This is usually run by the department called the 'Casa de Cultura' and the prices are usually very low, as they are subsidised by the Town Hall.
There are some excellent books, videos, CD's and tapes which give you a good grounding in the language. Repetition being the mother of skill, the best idea is to learn some phrases and vocabulary and then brave the storm outside and practice chatting to people in your everyday life.
The great thing about living in Andalucia is that the people are generally very friendly and willing to help - especially if they can see that you are making an effort.
Other ways of getting to grips with the language is to avoid as much contact with other English speakers as possible - especially when you first arrive. Instead of always shopping at the hypermarket, where you just pick products off the shelves, try buying from a local store to practice your Spanish. Join a tennis club where most of the members are Spanish and listen to the score when following a game. Watch Spanish TV and go to Spanish theatre, even if it's a musical. Avoid the English or Scottish pub and find a friendly local bar full of, well… locals! The possibilities are limitless and most of are great fun.
If you do make the effort, you'll find out much more about the real Andalucia and how they tick. You will be able to tap into the cultural heritage without always relying on and the English translation. The reward is worth the effort, especially when you consider that
Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world, with 380 million Spanish speakers. Make Andalucia your training ground and make the world your oyster.