When looking into a location like Belize, it is important to know what languages are spoken there, so that you know whether you need a translator or not to order a cup of coffee. The main languages spoken are Kriol and English. English is the official language of the country and is taught in public schools. Spanish is taught in some primary schools and some secondary schools as well. In Belize, bilingualism is common and the literacy rate is around 80 percent.
The majority of the people in Belize speak English, Spanish, or Creole. Some populations speak German, Garifuna, Mopan Maya, or other languages. However, these are small populations compared to the whole. Belize used to be a British colony and that is why the official language is English. Public media outlets, education, and government use English as their primary language.
Digging Deeper into Languages in Belize
Many Belizeans speak English-based Creole or what can be called Belizean Creole in informal conversations. Around have of the Belizeans identify themselves as Latino, Hispanic, or Mestizo. Spanish is the native tongue of around a third of the population and is taught in the schools that don’t use it as a first language. In Corozal or San Pedro, a mixed form of Spanish and Belizean Creole is spoken and called “Kitchen Spanish”. More than half of the population is bilingual and several segments are also multilingual. This is strongly encouraged in the society because it is such a small area with many different ethnicities. Various indigenous languages still exist and are used by various groups. Some of these languages are near extinction and very unique.
The diversity of the languages spoken throughout Belize can make communication hard at times. However, large majorities of the population are learning enough of the other languages to be able to effectively communicate with one another. It is important when various ethnic groups are in this close proximity that they are able to effectively communicate. Especially when you are dealing with the traditions that push for social interactions with acquaintances. In Belize, it is customary for individuals to acknowledge those that they see throughout their day. It is customary to nod and speak to those that share your space and that is why communication is so vital to the lives of the individuals in Belize. In touristy areas, English is spoken mostly because of the large amount of individuals who speak English that visit the area.
It is interesting to be able to listen to the unique languages that are still apparent in various parts of Belize. It is way of looking into the past and feeling what life may have been like. It is a way to look at the world through the eyes of the individuals who have lived there for generations and with a large majority of people being multilingual, it won’t be that hard to communicate with them as well. Communicating in Belize may be easier than you previously thought.