The other day, I was doing some minor research on tax issues in Latin America for an upcoming article that I am planning on writing soon.
I posted some question in a Facebook Expat group asking how do people handle their taxes while living in Mexico.
At any rate, someone posted a separate comment referencing what I posted but asking for advice on any “English speaking accountants” to handle their taxes in Mexico.
While basically everyone gave some good advice and recommendations for specific English speaking accountants, one individual started a storm of an argument.
The question ended up getting deleted by whoever but the person who responded negatively to the question was getting really bitchy about the “English speaking” requirement for an accountant.
But it basically boiled down to a “if you’re in Mexico, you should speak Spanish. No need for English speaking accountants.”
And you can imagine anyhow how the argument carried on forward from that.
Those defending it saying “not everyone speaks Spanish” to “even if they do, they’re more comfortable with English.”
And some chick, being as smart as she was, decided to advertise her “English” accountant services during the argument in a comment.
At any rate, it brings up a valid point for life in Latin America.
A small point but one that I’ve thought to myself before whenever I’ve considered establishing deeper roots down here like buying a house, maybe getting a tax accountant if I ever make enough money for that or whatever else.
That point being in regards to scenarios where, even if you speak Spanish well enough, you still might desire business for certain interactions to be done in English.
Considerations for English
Of course, it doesn’t have to be English.
If your native language is anything else like French, Mandarin, German or whatever, then the point is still the same.
Though, as we all know, there’s more folks out there who learn English as a second language for business interactions than most other languages.
Still, despite how good your Spanish gets, I do think there are reasonable moments where one would probably prefer to go back to their native language.
First, some do so for romantic reasons.
Let’s say you have a local girlfriend or wife and she happens to speak English quite well.
Granted, my last girlfriend spoke English to a point that she could understand anything in English without problem but we never spoke in English to each other.
But I get why someone would, in that scenario, prefer speaking English if her English is so good that it’s almost native level.
I wouldn’t say her English was “almost native” level as she had an accent in English but it was as damn good as you could hope for.
The only times I’ve ever actually spoken in English consistently with someone, that I can remember, is with some Argentine chick named Tami.
Her English was so good and without an accent that she could’ve passed as someone from Iowa by just how she spoke English.
No question about it.
The only other time where I’ve spoken in English consistently with someone was some Mexican chick named Ale like 6 months ago near the end of my time near Copilco area.
She showed up to hookup.
We sat down by a table first in my apartment having a drink and just chatting before getting to it.
Initially, we were speaking in only Spanish without any communication issues but, at some point, I realized she spoke English as good as you could hope for.
And, perhaps being a bit curious about how good her English really was, I figured “fuck it, let’s switch to English” and she held her own without any problems.
Outside of those two scenarios, I can’t remember speaking English with some chick consistently on a date.
Either way, you get the point.
If you’re dating someone, you might switch to English if their English is damn good.
The only other point to make here is that, when dating some local chick, your Spanish is going to improve pretty fast if you two do speak Spanish often.
As I wrote here, it’s one obvious way to really improve your Spanish by dating a local chick in Latin America who doesn’t understand English and only speaks Spanish with you.
But what about a friend?
Second, you make a friend who is either a native English speaker or a local who speaks English damn well.
Nothing is funnier than hanging out with another gringo who is hell bent on speaking broken Spanish so he can “practice Spanish” but yet you both can converse so much easier in English.
Now, if the other dude speaks Spanish well enough, it might not be as much of an issue.
But these scenarios tend to involve two gringos where one or both don’t speak Spanish well and the conversation is very broken and sounds like that of two students doing a oral Spanish exam in school.
Either way, the point here is the same as the first. You got two people who would probably have a better conversation in English if we’re being honest.
Third, as I’ve tried to think of different scenarios where a gringo might prefer going back to English, there’s one scenario that just came to mind that I’ve never lived before.
That’s where said gringo has a kid born and raised in Latin America and he wants the kid to grow up being bilingual in both English & Spanish.
As a result, he might find himself speaking some English at home.
Fourth, as I don’t find myself speaking English to local chicks ever except maybe one every 3 years but have hung out with the rare gringo from time to time where we speak English, I don’t find myself speaking English much at all because of the last two reasons.
However, being honest, there is one scenario where I probably would strongly prefer speaking English no matter what my Spanish skills are.
And that is when doing business on anything that would involve something very important like handling taxes with an accountant or buying a house.
Truth be told, I never learned much vocabulary related to handling taxes or the legality of buying a house.
I do know the words for taxes and house though in Spanish but I can only imagine that there’s a lot of legal vocabulary in the contracts and documents involved that I’ve never learned.
And I’m only speculating here.
Maybe I’m wrong and the documents I would have to read before signing aren’t too technical.
But, as I’ve contemplated my future down here, I have thought about the topics of taxes and buying a house.
And, simply put, I’ve always thought that there might be a bunch of legal jargon in Spanish that I would have a harder time understanding.
Unless I plan on attending a Spanish class where they teach me specifically legal terms that I would need to know for doing taxes or buying a house, I would probably go for the English speaking accountant like the person mentioned way above in the start of the article.
Though, being honest, it would probably depend on the money involved also.
If it costs a considerable amount of extra money for the English speaking accountant, I would definitely just do the Spanish speaking one because why spend the extra money if it’s not necessary?
It’s really just about making the process a little bit smoother for me if any contracts have too much legal jargon.
But as I’m just speculating here about the process of hiring a tax accountant or buying a house in Latin America, I’ll just leave it at that.
Point is still the same that, even for the Spanish speaking gringo, there are obvious reasons for why he would prefer doing business in English for something so much more important like buying a house or doing taxes.
Both of which are a little more complicated and important than conversing in Spanish with another Tinder chick or ordering a hamburger at a restaurant.
Either way, there are probably other scenarios where I could understand why a Spanish speaking gringo would prefer to go back to English for the conversation at hand.
But, above all else, while I definitely think any gringo living down here should learn Spanish for obvious reasons, I don’t think they should be shamed for wanting to switch back to English for specific situations.
Anyway, drop any comments below.
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Thanks for reading.