Do people in Ecuador speak English?

Ericka & Stefano

This is a frequently asked question by English-speaking travellers visiting Ecuador. And the short answer is NOT everyone.

If I had to estimate the percentage of Ecuadorians who understand and speak English, I would say less than 7%.

This does not imply that no one speaks English in Ecuador.

Although not very fluently, many people who work in the tourism sector (hotels, restaurants, etc.) do speak English.

Few citizens can understand and speak very basic English, but the typical Ecuadorian may not be able to carry on a lengthy, fluent English conversation.

Ecuador’s official language is Spanish, which is also widely spoken in its urban areas.

In certain regions of the Sierra and Amazon, there are additional languages and dialects that even we ecuadorians do not comprehend. For example Kichwa (Quichua), which is the second official language of Ecuador and is widely spoken in the indigenous villages of the highlands and eastern Ecuador, especially in Chimborazo and Imbabura.

So, excluding urban areas such as Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca, the vast majority of citizens lack English proficiency.

This number changes a lot based on whether you are in an urban or rural area, or if you live in an indigenous community (some of them don’t even speak Spanish, or their Spanish is not very well understood).

The more you go into rural areas, the fewer (or hardly any) English speakers you will find.

If you walk around wealthy places, you will find more citizens who do speak English.

See also:

What do I recommend?

To communicate with people in Ecuador, you must know at least a basic level of Spanish.

This will improve your experience in the country, particularly if you intend to stay for a long period, and it also demonstrates some respect for our culture.

If you don’t speak Spanish, you should be familiar with the following basic phrases and words:

  • Hola (Hello, Hi)
  • Gracias (Thank you)
  • Hermoso, bonito (Beautiful)
  • Buenos días (Good morning)
  • Buenas noches (Good evening, good night)
  • ¿Dónde está el baño? (Where is the bathroom?)
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta esto? (How much does it cost?)
  • Traigame la cuenta, por favor (Bring me the bill, please)

However, do not panic! Most Ecuadorians do make an effort to understand and help foreign tourists, even if is only through signs.

You can also learn basic Spanish if you stay longer in Ecuador. There are Spanish classes in some tourist places where a lot of foreigners live.

And personally, we think that, unlike other Latin American accents, our Spanish is clear and easy to understand.

At first, you might find it hard to talk to people because we all have our own accents. For example, the “costeño” speaks quickly and uses a lot of slang, while the “serrano” speaks more slowly but clearly.

But you figure it out. And I know this not because of me, but because of a former Australian teacher who arrived to Ecuador knowing no Spanish, fell in love with our country, and learnt to speak the language.

Here’s a YouTube video with some simple Spanish phrases to get you started.

I am aware that this is not a course, but it is a free video from a channel from which you can view more.

About the author

Hey there! We are Ericka and Stefano. As longtime citizens of this amazing country, we are honored to serve as your tour guides and offer our firsthand experiences, insider advice, and must-see attractions in Ecuador. So be prepare for an exciting journey through Ecuador’s unique treasures.

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