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working South America


Oct 6, 2007
Lexington, NC
I am working on WAC and Canadaward (Canadian version of WAS) right now.
I am hearing lots of stations talking away in Spanish(OA4), PortugueseP(PY7), and Quebecois(VA2), but I can't work them because I don't speak their langauge.

My spanish is limited to: Donde el bano, comida, sena, and Mas cerveza? por favor.
French forget it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to conduct QSOs with these stations?
other than just waiting for somone to start speaking english.

A crib sheet of relevant words or terms that would allow a basic contact to be done?
A Special Spanish primer like VOA Specail English that they had years ago.

I worked TI8II and a Costa Rica station in english, but unfortunately these stations are in North America according to the DXCC list.

Any how, any ideas on how to conduct a QSO with those stationso_O


Premium Subscriber
May 18, 2008
Santa Ynez, CA
First of all, many hams in other countries speak some English. If you hear a station calling CQ, try calling them in English. The very first South American contact I made was on 10 meters and was located in San Francisco Argentina. He spoke excellent English. Also you can call CQ for a particular call area in English and hope for the best. After all, they want contacts too.
Jun 13, 2018
Colorado, New Mexico- and now in Washington DC
This is an interesting question, Ai.... Just how do you communicate to hams when you don't speak their language....?

I am going to suggest a few things, based purely on my own experiences and prejudices- for no-doubt there will be others that will have plenty of their suggestions too- and their criticisms.

Preface-- I speak Spanish.
I have lived and work'd in Central America where I spoke nothing but.
I have also been DX from many locations where I have been eagerly chased by non English/Spanish speaking hams. So I know well, the 'other side.'

Thus said, being on the other side of the 'chase,' -call it that term, if you like- Here is how to successfully 'catch' the me's.
Fortunately most of the scientific/technical world speaks some English. So don't be afraid to call these stations in English-

I'd first off, avoid any of the DX bands and their pile ups. Fighting those is a chore in any language-- so go looking for a conversation in the off-frequent'd bands and then Listen. Listen and Wait.
Hopefully this period will enable you to gather information about the Spanish speaking stations- like their callsigns, locations etc., but most importantly, the tone of their conversation- is it friendly ?.. Even if you can't understand them, are they the type of guys (or gals) that seem amenable to attempting a cross language contact ? Use your Sixth Sense on this one.
When you feel the timing is right, call them in both English and in Spanish- get your callsign down in Spanish ** and interject it in with your Short ! call. Remember, Latin culture is very polite; make your call accordingly.

"(Their callsign in Spanish, then Engligh) 'this is' (your callsign in Spanish then English) 'may I have a short contact ?.... ¿Puedo tener un breve contacto por favor?.. cambio"

You may be please if they answer you in English, or a mixture - perhaps in a halting mixture, but you have made contact... now you can take it from there.

Maybe something like;
"I have never spoken to Chille before...Nunca antes había hablado con Chile, quería saludar rápido ..."
("I have never talked to Chile before, and wanted to say a quick 'hello'...")

Once --(or If)-- you establish a repertoire, the words will flow, fear not. But keep your exchanges brief and use as simple a basic language as you can.
Maybe this is preaching to the choir- but I can't - won't- overstate the Politeness part.


Some Real Life stuff--
When I'm in the Pacific on rare little sand pile, I can create a pileup in a heart beat; Its then my most favorite Hams in the World are the Japanese.
So many will politely wait the longest periods of time to exchange a signal report- which I usually never let them get away with-- for I want to talk to each and every one at length- And in my horrible attempts at Japanese, we have a wonderful time.

Its important to keep a good sense of humour - and your perspective.
That is, I think my French is pretty good.......

Well, that's what I think.
My good friend and colleague is French. She thinks differently-------------------

"Goodness, Lauri-- you sound just like a Parisienne hooker !" :)

Lauri :sneaky:


Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation | SpanishDict
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Premium Subscriber
Jan 3, 2013
Dallas, Georgia
Unlike us, most foreign ops know more than one language. Give them a call in English and see if they respond. You also need to know if they QSL at all, many now do not. QRZ is a good reference for all that info,

15 and 10 meters have a lot of South American stations on when they are open.