The Best Ways to Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires
A park in Buenos Aires. A good place to hang out and talk with friends, in Spanish.
Hablas castellano? Yeah, me neither. Or I should really say “un poquito.” During a 3-month language vacation I took from April to July 2005, I experimented with many different ways to learn Spanish.
I must also admit that nowhere else have I been as intrigued and downright entranced by a language as with Castellano, the term used for the unique Italian twist to Spanish in Buenos Aires. For once the frustration
of trying to learn a new tongue did not stop me.
Once I decided to at least try and learn Castellano, I researched many options. I was living on a meager savings account during this 3-month period, so I was going to have to do it cheaply.
Thus when I heard that the Univ. of Buenos Aires (UBA) offered semester-long classes for about $200. I thought “excellente!” But I was one month away from the next session.
On to plan B: a search for intensive language schools and private tutors. After watching a few classes at some private schools around the city and meeting with even more private tutors, I found an intensive class in the Congresso neighborhood,
at the Ibero Language School, that I personally clicked with.
But then my budget forced me to give up Spanish classes during a 10-day gap between the intensive program and the UBA university program. This is when I looked for alternative ways to learn Spanish and posted a few
ads for language exchanges—first on neighborhood billboards, then a local student travel website, Asatej, which has an “Intercambio” bulletin board. Immediately the emails came rolling in. It was not easy with scheduling,
personality differences, geographic variances (Buenos Aires is as spread out as Los Angeles, if not more so), and weeding out the occasional man using this method as a dating tool. But I successfully teamed up with two semi-consistent language
exchange partners. It went so well that we continued to meet weekly even while I was studying at UBA.
After the energy and personal attention of my Ibero teacher, UBA was a shock. We had about 12 people in our class and the environment was not ideal to say the least. UBA’s language school is located on 25 de
Mayo, two short blocks from Plaza de Mayo, the place where near-daily loud protests either start, finish, or take place in their entirety. One day our teacher gave up trying to outscream the protest and gave us a written assignment to work
on until the noise had ceased.
All in all, considering the price and the quality of the class, I have to say that it was still the best buy in town for learning Castellano.
Ways to Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires
- Intensive language schools: Ibero, www.iberospanish.com
- UBA: www.uba.ar
- Private tutors: 20-30 pesos per hour; can be found in the Buenos Aires Herald, on bulletin boards all over the city, referrals from
other foreigners, or from expat websites
- Chatting with local friends: Free!
- Local girlfriend or boyfriend
- Homestay: Live with a local family where Spanish is the only language spoken. Most language schools place you in such homestays. Also, the Buenos Aires Herald lists many locals offering such a living
- Reading a local newspaper
- Listening to Castellano/Spanish music
- Watching movies and/or TV shows with subtitles