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Speaking the Language

Dominican Republic - Speaking the Language

The people of the Dominican Republic mostly speak Spanish. The local language is called Dominican Spanish and it is very similar to other Spanish vernaculars in the Caribbean region and Canarian Spanish. In addition to that, Dominican Spanish has borrowed some words from the local indigenous Caribbean languages of the island of Hispanola. The school system relies mostly on the Spanish educational model, having English and French as mandatory foreign languages in both public and private schools. The quality of foreign languages teaching in this country is still considered to be poor. However, there are some private institutes that teach other foreign languages, such as Italian, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese.

Other languages

The largest minority language in the Dominican Republic is Haitian Creole, largely spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. There is also a community of several thousand people whose ancestors spoke Samana English in the Samana Peninsula. This group consisted of descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans who arrived in Hispanola during the 19th century. However, only a few elders speak this language nowadays. When it comes to English, the motivation of Dominicans to learn it can be found in the influential wave of American pop culture, tourism, Dominican Americans, and the country's economic ties with the United States. Chinese is spoken by around 25,000 Chinese immigrants. These people are mostly refugees who left the country after the Chinese revolution.

In the late 20th century, a census was made in order to see which mother tongues were mostly spoken within the Dominican population. The results showed that Spanish was spoken by 98%, French 1.19%, English 0.57%, Arabic 0.09%, Italian 0.03% , while other languages were in the remaining 0.12%.

Dominican Spanish

Dominican Spanish is similar to Coastal Caribbean Spanish dialects and based on Canarian Spanish, but it also has huge influences from Western African languages. The interesting thing about Dominican Spanish is that it still uses some old Spanish words that are no longer used in modern Spanish.

In Dominican Spanish it is quite common to drop the letter "S". For example, the word "mosquitos" is "mosquito", and the phrase "donde tu esta?" is "donde tu ta?" There also some words that are completely different compared to other forms of Spanish. For instance, the word "guapo" means "handsome" in Spanish, but it represents "angry" in Dominican Spanish.

Dominican people tend to speak quite loud and fast, gesticulating a lot while while talking. It might be challenging for expats in this country at first, but with time, it all becomes easier.

Learning the language

For English speaking expats it is possible to survive in the Dominican Republic without knowing the local language. In these cases, expats just need to have someone close to help them deal with things such as bills. However, it can be quite difficult if expats speak no Spanish at all. It is always a good idea to learn some of the local language when moving to a new country. By learning a local language, expats will quickly notice that Dominican people really appreciate these efforts, even if it is just a beginner level.

There are several language schools and CDs, as well as various online courses, that can help expats in achieving this goal. In addition, there are always some Spanish speaking expats who are willing to help with person-to-person tuition, as well as some locals who speak English. Those who wish to work in this country must be aware that they should be fluent in Spanish, unless they work for foreign companies that don't demand any knowledge of the local language.

The daily newspapers in this country are all in Spanish. There are some online news platforms that translate the news into English. Dominican television is also all in Spanish, with English programmes dubbed into Spanish as well. Cable and satellite TV is largely available with channels in both Spanish and English, usually having Spanish subtitles for the English channels. When it comes to using foreign languages as a work tool, there are some expats who work in international schools and language institutes, some work in English speaking call centres, while some also work as translators and interpreters.

Language schools in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo Spanish School
Spanish Abroad Inc. offers students Spanish language studies in Dominican Republic. The school aims to provide high quality Spanish programs. They believe that students can benefit from the support that is offered before, during, and after the program.

Enforex offers three different language programs in the Dominican Republic. These programs are all made for students to have a focus on Spanish from the beginning to the end. Students take part in cultural activities and can choose from an array of Spanish courses that are offered throughout the year.

Instituto Intercultural del Caribe (Santo Domingo)

This school is located in the Zona Universitaria in Santo Domingo, facing the UASD, Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, the country's biggest and most famous university. The central location of the university is easy to seek and out and close to various places of interest.

Instituto Intercultural del Caribe (Sosua)
This school is located in a quiet part of Sosua, within the tropical garden, only 5 minutes from the beach. Lectures are sometimes held in the garden or on one of the terraces.

AmeriSpan offers students the chance to experience the Dominican way of life by living like a local and learning Spanish in the country. Participants can take up to four hours of comprehensive classes in Santo Domingo or Sosua. Some extra weekend activities are also offered in order to enable further immersion into the culture. All participants stay with a local host family during the program.

ISA international studies
Spanish courses are taught in Santiago and Santo Domingo, which are two of the most dynamic cities in the country. The ISA program allows participants to learn the language with other international students, and also offers them the opportunity to participate in a community development project.

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