10 Ways to Help You Become Fluent In Spanish While Living in Buenos Aires

Argentine Spanish — By

If you are visiting or living in Buenos Aires, you probably are trying to learn or improve your Spanish.The obvious way to learn and improve your Spanish would be to take a Spanish course, and then make sure to speak as much Spanish as possible.However, there are many other ways you can improve you language skills, and many of them are free.Read on for a few different approaches on how to improve your Spanish, and having fun while doing so.

1.Spanglish

Have you ever heard of speed dating?Well, think of speed dating, but instead of meeting potential dates, you are meeting local Argentines with whom you can practice your Spanish.At the same time, they get to practice English, and it´s all in a fun, casual setting.

Here´s how it works: Depending on the night, you meet up in a bar.It´s a mix of locals and foreigners, and you are paired up for 10 minutes each.For 5 minutes, you speak English, and for five minutes you speak Spanish.After the 10 minutes are up, you rotate, and speak with a different local.Its very casual, lots of fun, and on top of improving your Spanish, it´s a great way to meet new people.Any age can go (over 18), and most nights you will find people of all ages.Cost is $15 pesos, and includes one beer, and something to snack on.For more information, visit: http://www.spanglishba.com/

2.Conversation Exchange

This is a website where you can be paired up with a native Argentine that lives in Capital Federal.You exchange contact information, and then arrange to meet whenever it´s convenient.The idea is to speak in both English and Spanish, so both people can improve.

You can also pair up with someone through online text or voice chat, which is great if you have less time, and can´t get out as much.The site is free, easy to use, and it works great!There are lots of Porteños who are willing to meet up, and not only will you get practice with Spanish, this is also a great way to meet people. Visit: http://www.conversationexchange.com/

3.Get a girlfriend or boyfriend that doesn´t speak English, or speaks very little

What better way to improve your Spanish than dating an Argentine?Far better than havingfriends that speak Spanish, dating someone who does not speak much English will help you advance very quickly.Not only are you forced to interact in Spanish, you will also be exposed to an Argentine environment – Argentine friends, Argentine parents, Argentine TV, Argentine books and magazines, etc.This is one of the TOP ways to improve your Spanish, and at the same time, you get to be surrounded by another culture!

4.Listen to Argentine music, and learn the lyrics

There is plenty of great music to listen to from Argentina, and if you study the lyrics, you will quickly learn new vocabulary.At the same time, you will be learning more about Argentine culture, and you will understand a whole lot more about the country.Find a style of music you like, then try to find the artists that are popular in that category.Once you find some songs you like, look up the lyrics on line.Type the name of the song, the artist, and the word “letras” (meaning lyrics) into Google, and you´ll get a list of sites with the lyrics written out.Look the words up that you don´t understand, and from then on, when you listen to the song, make sure to listen for the words, and think of the meaning.This method is great for comprehension and learning new vocabulary.

5.Chat online

This may not seem like an obvious method, but chatting with a native speaker is a GREAT way to improve your Spanish, especially if you are a high beginner or low intermediate.Chatting gives you time to think before you “speak.”It also gives you time to look words up online, and to see your sentence structure.You learn a lot by reading the chats of your friend, because you have time to see each and every word, and again, have time to look up words you do not know.I highly recommend chatting with Latin American friends as much as possible, you will learn quickly.

6.Read in Spanish

Reading is another great way to learn Spanish, and if you read magazines and newspapers, you will learn a lot of the common local expressions and phrases.Try to pick a publication that really interests you, and read it regularly.Every week, or every month if it´s a magazine.Don´t look up all the words, just the ones that you need to know to understand what´s written.

Books and magazines are usually better than novels, because the language will be much more colloquial, and the vocabulary won´t be so difficult.On top of that, you will be reading short articles, which is important when reading in another language.If you try reading novels, it is easy to lose interest too quickly, and you risk setting the book aside forever.

7.Join something

It could be a club, it could be volunteer work, it could be a sport, whatever.The important thing is you will be surrounded by Argentines, and forced to take part. Find something that you enjoy, that interests you, and happens on a weekly basis.It can be difficult at first, but will definitely pay off in the long run.

8.Live with people who only speak Spanish, or who speak very little English

BuenosAires is full of South Americans that are here to study or live, and that look for shared accommodation.If you are looking for a room in a shared apartment, try to find one that is shared with LatinAmericans.They often prefer to share with a native English speaker, so that they can also learn some English.This will force you to speak Spanish, and you will learn quickly.

9.Limit the amount of English speaking friends you have, and try to avoid English speaking activities

This is the number one biggest mistake that people make when they come to Buenos Aires, and hope to learn Spanish.They stay in a hostel, meet English speaking friends, go to activities with English speakers, and find it to difficult to break away from that.When you arrive in Buenos Aires, try to limit your group of friends to mainly non-English speakers.Stay away from expat groups, expat bars, and things that are geared to tourists.Although this may not work for everyone, if you are here to learn Spanish this is very important.

Once you have developed a group of Spanish speaking friends, and are part of a Spanish speaking community, then it is fine to seek out English speakers.In fact, it is important to spend at least some time with English speakers, to reduce the risk of culture shock.

10.Find a job where you need to use Spanish

Most foreigners come here, and end up working in a job where they only use their English.Try to find a job where you are working with native Argentines, and have to use your Spanish at least some of the time.It could be in a restaurant, an international company that operates in English and Spanish, a magazine, etc.This forces you to use your Spanish, and puts the pressure in you to do it well.

Bonus – 11. Play football with Argentines
This is a great way to practice Spanish, learn vocabulary for football (you will finally be able to understand the football commentators) and learn lots of Argentine slang and of course, how to curse. Its usually pretty easy to find people to play with, but if you are having problems, check out FCBAFA.

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9 Comments

  1. steve martin says:

    Awesome!
    This blog is very nice and 10 ways related to learning Spanish is very interesting. By reading it i know that they all are going to help me out.
    Thanks

  2. Adam says:

    Wow, that Spanglish idea is sweet. I wonder how many people use it as speed dating for gringos/argentines, lol.

  3. Colin says:

    ahh, but let’s not forget that there are some great Spanish schools in Buenos Aires that are great places to not only learn Spanish but offer other courses like tango lessons and activities like soccer championships, etc.. Great way to meet both foreigners and locals!!! I went to Expanish and it was great, lots of cool things to do!

  4. anotheruser says:

    I had a very nasty experience with Expanish . The sales rep, Michelle, was a pretty ‘full-on’ sales type of operator. She was very keen to sell me on the full eight week deal and advised that a one week introduction was a waste of time. Trusting her advice, I booked for two weeks with a view to see how things proceeded. She also said I should start immediatly because a weekly class had just started. After a hurried sign off of the form (small print in Spanish) and payement in USD only I was seated into a class that was already half way through. The lecturer spoke, only in Spanish and adhoc sign language. I seriously had no idea what she was saying. The other students were also pulling WTF type faces at each other.

    I apologized to the lecturer and explained that I was having difficulty catching up with the lesson. She snapped at me and said that I would just have to take a another lesson another time. I was angered and embarrassed to say the least. I then informed the administrators that I would prefer to cancel my lessons because I was so humiliated by the treatment and needed to start from scratch. They also informed me that some lecturers do speak english and some don’t.

    I offered to pay a $50 USD penalty for the hour that I was there. The sales ladiy’s response was aggressive and sharp.She promptly informed that that they do not give refunds. She informed me that when I signed the personal information form, (that’s what it was titled), I had also signed and agreed to their terms and conditions which are posted on their web site. The only option given to me was that I could do some private lessons for equal value or simply lose my $300 US. In other words, too bad, we have your money and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    After a very heated argument they finally agreed to refund half my money. The hostel that I am staying since told me that Expanish has a reputation of high pressure sales and that they would have advised mt to use a different company.

    I went in there trusting good reports from forums and ended up letting my guard down when it came to making an assessment. They even had a Lonely Planet logo in their brochure and guess what? When I got back to my dorm, I checked the Lonely Planet guide and Expanish isn’t even listed.

    Based on this incident, my advice is to tread very carefully when dealing with the sales representative at Expanish or any english teaching business in BA. Do not let them pressure you into a rushed decision or book more lessons than you originally wanted in the first place. Make sure that they give you a print-out of the terms and conditions (in English). Be sure to make sure that the lecturer assigned to your class actually speaks English rather than pigeon English and sign language – perhaps ask to met the lecturer.

    Remember that the English lesson market is very competitive Buenos Aires.

    Hope this advice proves useful in some way.

  5. matt says:

    I want to do some Spanish lessons and I have seen the website for ” The Royal Family” which is a gay and lesbian language school.

    Has anyone had any experience with this school?
    Thanks Matt

  6. julia says:

    EXPANISH Spanish School in Buenos Aires is really crappy! They just want your money……… nothing is worth it there…………. try other schools…..

  7. Markus says:

    Thanks for the article and thanks for the comments about EXPANISH. I will definately do some more research before giving them my money.

  8. Mariel says:

    I’m an argentinian who is interested in sharing some time with an english native speaker. I’m also interested in teaching spanish to foreigners, so it’d be a good opportunity to practise both my english fluency and my teaching skills. It’s totally free! I’m just interested in making friends from around the world and showing them about my culture and my city (BA). Please contact me if you’re in buenos aires. my email adress is mery_cool_91@hotmail.com
    Regards!

  9. Queste aste sono un tema molto interesante che e
    bene aprofondire. Molti non fanno bene al inizio pero
    dopo aver imparato e possibile divertirsi molto

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