Spain leaves British tongue-tied

The image of the Briton abroad as someone who refuses to speak any language other than his own may not be that far from the truth.

    Spain is a favourite destination for British tourists

    A study of the British expatriate community in Spain has found that fewer than one in five can conduct a conversation in the local language.


    According to the Economic and Social Research Council think tank, half of British expatriates never read a Spanish newspaper, while a similar proportion only watch British television.


    A third, meanwhile, have no Spanish friends or work colleagues.


    More than 160,000 Britons have officially moved to Spain, although the true figure could be closer to half a million as many do not register officially.


    Spanish bureaucracy


    Attracted by sunshine, cheaper property prices and a culture made superficially familiar through summer holidays, large numbers of Britons have settled in Spain in recent years, mainly in the south of the country.


    Aberdeen University's Dr Karen O'Reilly, who spent two years in Spain conducting the study, said many British people had great trouble with Spanish bureaucracy.


    "People don't know there are regulations about car number plates, driving licences, registering with town halls, registering their children at school," she told the Independent on Sunday newspaper.


    As a result, only 9% of the expatriates O'Reilly spoke to had voted in local or European elections for which they were eligible to cast a ballot.



    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.