The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish and in some areas of the country, this is the only language that will be spoken. In tourist areas or industries there are usually staff members that speak at least some English.
The Dominican Republic was the first Spanish settlement in the New World, and became the center of their operations in the region in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. As a result, it is no surprise that the official language of this region remains Spanish. Visitors will find that inhabitants of the Dominican Republic who are not in the tourism and service industries very rarely speak English.
Staff at resort hotels, however, are more likely to know at least some English, and if visitors can also learn some Spanish phrases before visiting, communication will be easier and more pleasant. As with many countries, an attempt made at speaking the local language shows inhabitants respect and a sign of effort, and most will be accommodating and friendly to those making an attempt at communication. Between Spanish, English, hand gestures, and general friendliness, most English speakers are able to communicate and conduct simple transactions with native speakers.
It is not hard to learn a few phrases before traveling to the Dominican Republic. Simple things like hola (hello), gracias / no gracias (thank you; no, thank you), and por favor (please) can ingratiate you with local citizens. Señor and Señora or Don and Doña should be used when appropriate along with the usted (the formal 'you') form as a sign of respect.
Pick up a Spanish phrase book from your local bookstore to learn more. It will serve you well as you vacation in the Dominican Republic.
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