One of our goals for our trip was to improve our Spanish.
Personal note: We live in Texas – I grew up learning and HEARING Mexican Spanish. The accent here is soooo different plus there are words that aren’t used here and vice versa! I’m still getting used to it, but it’s gorgeous!
So, here is the approach we took to learning and practicing our Spanish.
1) Group Spanish classes:
LOADS of Spanish schools here in BA. The cheapest one we found online and now that we’re here and have asked around by far is Ibero Spanish School. The guy who owns it is kind of a douche but the teachers are great. There are various levels and you do 20 hours of group Spanish classes a week.
The only thing I didn’t like was that they do give you an entrance exam so as to place you at the right level. But if they don’t have that class going on, they place you at the closest level. For example, I was supposed to be in Intermediate II in my first week but when I got there, they didn’t have other students for that class so I was placed in Indermediate I in the third (final) week. It worked out fine because it was a great review and most of the students in that class stayed in the class the whole month I was there. Ibero divides their levels in three week sections. We stayed for four weeks so I was able to get through the end of Intermediate II (learned up to present subjunctive and imperative; Samir took up to Intermediate I and learned up to preterite, imperfect and some of the perfect tenses). The biggest disadvantage of group classes is there is limited time to actually speak and if you’re a naturally shy person or someone who doesn’t like speaking up, it would be difficult to practice speaking. Though you speak during the formal exercises at a minimum.
2) Spanglish – https://www.spanglishexchange.com/
This was one of our favorite weekly activities. It’s basically like speed dating but for learning languages. You get assigned to a table and a person who wants to practice speaking English (generally someone local) is seated with a person wanting to practice Spanish (like us). You spend five minutes talking in one language and then they go around saying Language Change and you switch to the other language. It was a great way to both practice our Spanish and meet new people – portenos and other travelers alike. We pretty much always hung out with someone that we met at the event after the event. This event changes locations but is currently Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Palermo and Friday in Recoleta. Tuesday night is some kind of Argentinian trivia night – never went though. The events are 35 pesos (in July 2012) or 20 pesos if you have a student ID or are in one of the university programs that has ties with Spanglish. You also have the option of buying a punch card for 100 pesos that you can use 4 times and can share it with another person as well. Recommend getting! But, honestly only good once you have a basic level of Spanish. Most of the native people speak great English (we met so many that are studying to be English teachers or translators) and are willing to help you out, but there are some who have very basic English – that’s going to make a long awkward conversation if both people are at beginner levels.
3) Mundo Lingo – http://www.growinglanguages.com/
We unfortunately never made it to this Tuesday night event, but a couple of girls in our Spanish class recommended it. It’s less structured than Spanglish – it’s more of a happy hour (at 9pm) where people just mingle and talk to each other. You have a flag from you are from to represent your country. Another good way to meet people and practice your Spanish from what we’ve heard and it’s a totally free event.
4) Private lessons – this is probably the best way to learn since you get more specific attention and will have more time to practice speaking – but lessons at the schools are expensive (almost double group lessons). Come here and find someone local if you’re staying a while – you’re bound to meet another traveler who can recommend a good private tutor.
5) Practice anywhere – always practice speaking – watch TV in Spanish, listen to Spanish songs. Practice translating stuff on your own – it’s hard but will give you an idea of your vocab. Also, once you’ve gotten to an intermediate level, try take in a play – BsAs has a lively theater scenes. You may not understand even half of it, but always great to listen and pick up words! PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!