If you're moving to Panama or already live here and can't speak a word of Spanish, you should really make an effort to learn some. I mean, you don't have to be completely fluent but being able to have a basic conversation does go a long way. Even a survival level of Spanish will gain you smiles, respect, better service and even friends.
So do your part, get out there and start practicing! A Spanish speaking friend and some classes will do wonders. Habla Ya Spanish Schools in Boquete and Bocas del Toro have this special Spring promotion for those who sign up during the entire month of September.
You'll basically get a 50% discount off any Spanish course of over 60 hours. One of Habla Ya's most popular courses for expats is their 10 week course (6 hours per week) at only $250 per student (that's just a bit more than $4 per hour at Panama's top rated Spanish school). This is only for expats that live in Panama so come and grab yourself a deal before they fill up!
If you don't live in Bocas or Boquete (they still don't have a school in Panama City, take 3 or 4 weeks for a Spanish learning vacation in the Caribbean or mountains of Chiriqui and do a more intensive course by taking 20 hours a week (4 per day).
You can find more info about the the promo here: http://www.hablayapanama.com/blog/2014/08/50-off-spanish-lessons-for-panama-residents-september-expat-course/
Editor's Comment: One day, many years ago, I was at the Arrocha pharmacy on Via España buying (whatever.) I was waiting to pay for my purchases when I heard some sort of kerfuffle at the other cash register, next to where I was standing at the front of the store. There was this old cranky pissed-off gringo there. He was about 6' 4" tall and about 75 years old. I don't know what his problem was, but when I looked over he was towering over the poor young Panamanian girl who was working the cash register - and with a very loud voice and threatening posture he yelled "... why don't you learn some GOD DAMNED ENGLISH!"
When I looked over, the first thing I saw was the cashier - pulled back in fear - afraid this great, big gringo was going to hit her or something. I interjected myself between him and her immediately. I mean, I physically placed myself between the guy, and the cashier. I quickly told him "hold on, let me talk to her for a second..."
Then I spun around and told the girl (in Spanish) "I apologize for this idiot. I have no idea what happened to him, why he's having a bad day, or why he's yelling at you. But obviously, that's inappropriate. If anything should learn anything, it's him and he should be learning some Spanish. You don't have to be afraid of him because he's not going to hurt you. I'm going to talk to him now. Are you OK?"
Her face melted in relief. She relaxed, and said "thank you, very much..."
I then turned around to face the idiot. I started with "listen, moron. I don't know what crawled up your ass, but you are WAY out of line. Do not come in here, screaming at these poor women who are working for minimum wage - they don't make enough money to put up with your bullshit. What's more, she doesn't understand what you're yelling about anyway. And if anyone should learn something it's you. Why don't you learn some GOD DAMNED SPANISH!" And at this point I was nose-to-nose with the geezer. He grabbed his shit, and huffed his way out of the door.
The Arrocha employees gave me a standing ovation as the moron departed the premises.
Living in a foreign country where English is not the primary language can be difficult, frustrating, and challenging. Learning Spanish can go a long way to ease your path, make you feel much more comfortable in your new adopted home, and reduce your frustration level. I'm fluent in Spanish (speaking, writing, conversation) - learning another language will pay dividends for the rest of your life.