Learning Spanish in Buenos Aires

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Universidad de Buenos Aires LogoI am sitting in the classroom that time forgot, trying desperately to correctly conjugate my verbs into the past imperfecto and indefinido. My classmates are a diverse group of visiting Brazilians, Chinese youth whose families have relocated to Buenos Aires, and older men with Argentine girlfriends. The cracking paint, the moldy walls, the broken desks, the dusty…everything; in truth the location leaves something to be desired, although it does have a certain old world deterioration and charm. But that is not why I am here, I am here to once and for all learn Spanish. The intensive Spanish classes at the University of Buenos Aires’ Instituto de Idiomas on 25 de Mayo in the Microcentro, are not glamorous or glossy, but they get the job done.

You miss so much if you can’t communicate in the local language, and while you can survive in Buenos Aires with minimal Spanish skills, you are only doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least make an effort to learn Spanish. Luckily for all of us visiting Argentina, there are several ways to study the language. Whether you are a true beginner or you border on fluency, there is a Spanish class in Buenos Aires for you.

If you have the time, the University of Buenos Aires has intensive month long courses during January, February and June, and full semester courses in the spring and summer. The classes are about half the price of what you would pay at a more touristy language institute, 700 pesos for one month at three hours a day five days a week. The classes are bigger and classrooms duller, but nevertheless the teacher s are qualified and friendly and the learning intense. As with most institutes they will have you take a simple placement test when you register in order to determine what level you are in. Check out their website and click on Español para Extranjeros.

If you don’t have the time to sign up for a long-term program there are several private institutes that organize week-long classes. The Buenos Aires center, has several programs including a 25 hour ‘Survival Spanish’ course, and themed Spanish courses such as Spanish and tango, or Spanish and Polo. They also offer free conversational Spanish meetings on Tuesday nights, and volunteering or homestay programs. The center is located one block from the Obelisk in the centre of the city at 833 Sarmiento. Another popular insitute is IBL, which offers 20-hour intensive week courses for 120 dollars. Most institutes offer morning or afternoon sessions, meaning most of your day is still free to check out the city and have fun.

An alternative to the group setting at institutes and schools, are individual lessons with private tutors. The advantage is the one to one attention and the flexibility, you say when you are available and where you want to meet, but be prepared to pay between 20 and 40 pesos per hour. Buenos Aires is crawling with qualified Spanish teachers eager to get new students, so ask at your hotel or hostel reception for recommendations or check out private language institutes for professional teachers. You can also post your search on several websites, such as craigslist, and you will receive many responses. Often you can find people wanting to exchange Spanish for English, or free conversation partners. This can be fun, but these are rarely qualified language teachers and unless you have a good level of Spanish already, you probably won’t learn much.

Speaking Spanish isn’t easy, but it is rewarding when you can finally communicate with the not so friendly waiter, or the cutie you meet in a bar, or the stranger on the street who can hopefully give you directions back to your hotel. It is worth the effort and the time, even if you are on vacation, to learn the basics, or polish up your pronunciation.  For a more inspiration, check out Rob’s 5 tips to learning a language abroad. So sign up for an hour or sign up for a semester and start breaking down the language barrier in order to truly enjoy your Argentine experience.


[…] Each week, a guest musician also takes the stage, and this evening it is a bearded saxophonist who later offers some beat poetry. I would perhaps say he should stick to the saxophone, for his improvisation was excellent, while the poetry was, perhaps, faux-profound but still a good opportunity to practice my Spanish. A very short hour and a half later, the performance ends, leaving me exhilarated and ready to move the party to the courtyard, but the security personnel quickly clear everyone out, so there is little opportunity to stand about and chat. Fortunately the snack vendors are outside the gates as usual, giving the hordes of us a chance to firm up our night’s plans while munching on a delicious pancho. […]

[…] The fortress now forms part of the University of Buenos Aires and has become a popular attraction. During the low season it can attract 350 people a day whereas high season (generally Argentinean school holidays) sees 1,000 or more people treading the antique paths. This means between 100,000 and 300,000 people visit every year, enabling the restoration process to continue and keeping the grumpy llamas well fed and fat. […]

Spanish lessons on October 16, 07

Learning the language of the country you are visiting is always important. Even if it’s just a few words so that you can show you are trying and respect your hosts. If you can do it in a country where the language is spoken it can help you really learn the language well if you make an effort.

However, I’ve known people who have lived in countries for several years and still speak the language horribly. It’s all about attitude and effort.

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