The new Channel 4 dating programme The Language of Love sees a group of Britons and Spaniards pairing up despite not speaking the same language. I have always been rather amazed at the limited Spanish spoken by many expat Britons. My own parents lived on the island for 30 years and didn´t speak a word but they still managed to enjoy Mallorca and go about their everyday lives.
Spain is a hospitable country and the Spanish do their best to understand you even if you don't speak their language. But I do remember a former British ambassador to Spain saying that speaking the language would improve your quality of life and this is certainly the case. I would say that these days understanding the language is more important than ever as a result of all the paperwork which is needed to reside in Spain. It can all be done online but if you don´t speak the language you are in big trouble.
Spain has changed dramatically since my parents first moved to the island. Spaniards do have a greater level of English but while the Brits are bottom of the class when it comes to speaking Spanish I would say that Spaniards are not shining examples when it comes to speaking English.
British tourists have been coming here on mass for almost five decades and really Spaniards should have a greater level of English. And of course so should British expats! It says a lot for Spain but little for the language skills of the Brits that you can live here for 30 years without speaking a word.