The 5 Hidden Costs of Only Choosing English-speaking Professionals

When you are not as fluent in Spanish as you would like to be, it is very easy to always seek out people who can speak English to help you. While this seems convenient, it can end up costing you in these five different ways.

1. Lack of choice

Obviously if you only choose from those professionals who can speak English, this is restricting who you can choose from. The problem with this can range from a minor inconvenience (finding a hairdresser who is not only good with your kind of hair, but fluent in English may take some more time, and may mean having to travel further) to an insurmountable problem (what if there is not an English-speaking emergency locksmith in your area when you lock yourself out of your home!). This can greatly increase the stress involved in the situation.

2. More expensive

Sometimes the only professionals in an industry which speak English will charge more. I chose my first bank in Spain because their ATMs would advertise in English and their web-site advertised a specific account for new arrivals and non-residents. The fees on this account were twice the fees on other accounts and there was no way of getting them waived!

If I had have used myAmigos’ friendly interpretation service to help me find and open a bank account, then it would have saved me money every month. In my defence, I hadn’t started myAmigos then. Now I don’t have that bank account any more.

3. Lower quality work

When I go to the dentist, I do not want them distracted by anything while they are drilling into my teeth! If they are struggling to remember how to say cavity, tartar, plaque, or gingivitis in English rather than concentrating fully on those scary tools in my mouth, then who knows what could happen! I also want to be able to choose the dentist based on the quality of their work, not how well they speak my language. This is probably over-sharing my dental health and phobias, but, hopefully you get my point. Whenever you need a professional’s help with a task and the quality of their work is important to you, you want them to be able to fully concentrate on their task and you want to be able to choose the person who is best at that job.

The one thing my amig@s who do the interpretations for us are surprised about, at first, is how much of a relief it is to the Spanish speaker they are interpreting for as well. Check out the video of Carla helping me out in person the very first time myAmigos was used on our youtube channel or on our sign-up page and you will see not only my relief, but that of the staff at the medical centre as well.

4. Takes more time

From the initial search, to the fact that that they may not be as conveniently located, or have as many appointments available, to the actual number and length of the conversations involved, restricting yourself to only English-speaking professionals can cost you much more in terms of time. These problems can be exacerbated if it is an ongoing relationship. Imagine how much time is wasted ensuring you and your building project manager understand each other exactly during the many meetings of a major construction project. If you find a great doctor who speaks great English, you may have to travel further afield to reach their clinic, wait longer for appointments, or take longer to make appointments with the reception staff to ensure clear communication.

In my case (again before myAmigos existed) my Spanish was good enough to get through making the appointment in person, but not over the phone. This meant every time I needed to make an appointment, I had to walk 20 minutes each way. Now, of course, I simply ask myAmigos’s friendly interpreters to make the phone call for me while I am on the video chat to answer any questions and check my schedule.

5. Reduced range of services available

I don’t know if you have noticed this, but, for example, some English-speaking lawyers web-sites list far fewer services on their English version than in Spanish. This might just be a translation or a marketing issue, or it may be that they don’t have the technical vocabulary to deal with some aspects of their practice in English. Or maybe you have some specialist electrical work that needs expertise over and above what a general electrician could offer. Maybe you cannot find someone to do that work and speak English as well.

Where this hidden cost was most noticeable for me was in finding somewhere to live. Again, this happened before myAmigos existed (you can see why I really want this service to exist and to continue!), so I needed to find an English-speaking real estate agent. I worked this out when visiting, non-English speaking ones and pointing to apartments that they had displayed in their window to express my interest, but failing to be able to secure an inspection time etc. After some time, and much stress, I managed to find an English-speaking real estate agent, which was a relief, but, of course, it now meant that I was restricted to choosing from their listings. I luckily found a great apartment that we are very happy with, but are paying slightly above the market rate for, judging by the other prices I have seen in other agents’ offices. During the process, including the signing of the contracts, I could tell that my lovely real estate agent was used to providing better and more information to potential tenants, as they kept apologising for their English level not being good enough to do one thing or another.

Having to use an English-speaking real estate agent to find somewhere to live meant I was exposed to all five of these hidden costs. Now that myAmigos exists, if I ever have to move, I can choose from a much wider range of real estate agents and avoid these problems.

The freedom to choose

Being able to choose to use English-speaking professionals or not is wonderfully liberating. Of course, depending on the circumstances, choosing an English-speaking professional might be the perfect choice for you. But by using myAmigos’ friendly interpreters you no longer have to choose that path. The tradespeople and advisors you work with can concentrate fully on their job, rather than communicating in a second language, so it can be empowering for them as well. By signing up to myAmigos we can start saving you time, money and stress.

The reason we exist is to help your time in Spain be easier, safer and more fun. If you have any questions about how we do that, or feedback about how we can do it better, feel free to email me directly, or comment below.

Nos vemos,

Michael.

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