A great way to practice your Spanish while studying abroad or volunteering here in Buenos Aires is to go to Spanglish!! Spanglish was designed for foreigners to practice their Spanish skills while giving porteños the opportunity to practice English. Not only is it a language exchange, but it’s also a cultural exchange. You can learn about Argentine culture from an Argentine, and also share your cultural anecdotes.
Here at Mente Argentina we believe that cultural immersion is the most important part of your trip abroad and participating in activities that facilitate this immersion will only make your experience here that much more meaningful, which is why we have added Spanglish night to our monthly activities.
How it works: people arrive and there is a 45 minute check in. This gives you the opportunity to chat with everyone and maybe grab a drink at the bar. You are given a table number and when it’s time to begin everyone goes to their first assigned table. Here you chat with your partner for five minutes in English then switch for five more minutes in Spanish. During this time pizza or other snacks are passed around for munching. Then it’s time to switch!
Spanglish events are always held in super hip bars in some of the coolest barrios in Buenos Aires. Last week we went to Klan Bar in Recoleta, right across from the cemetery. This is a well known area for upscale bars and restaurants with a fun vibe. Afterwards people usually go to another bar with their new friends!
At Spanglish I started with a girl who is studying to become an English teacher. She was about 20 years old and just so sweet! She has been studying for about two years and when I asked how long the program is, she told me that it takes about 10 years!! 10 YEARS! Wow, I couldn’t believe it. What a commitment! It didn’t seem to faze her though. As an American, I feel like we are all so eager to finish our studies as quickly as possible, hopefully having a degree by 22 or 23. But, in Argentina it doesn’t always work that way. They have other obstacles to endure, but they still hold their education as the highest of their priorities. This young woman was extremely dedicated and by going to Spanglish she is able to have one-on-one interaction with native English speakers. This is surely one of the few opportunities that she has to speak with natives, so it has become a vital part of her ‘studies’. By going to Spanglish you are not only improving your Spanish, but also helping the locals with their careers, which in turn may help them improve their social and economic status. All in all, it’s a win-win.
One suggestion that I would make is to bring some topics for discussion. Telling five to ten different people the exact same things about yourself will get dull really quick. Think of some interesting questions and conversation starters before heading over. Some ideas could include: dating culture in Argentina, food, best restaurants, best boliches (off the tourist radar), ideas for traveling in Argentina, ask about favorite vacations or an interesting fact about the person. We all know that people love to talk about themselves, so think of something you would like to know about the porteño sitting in front of you (no matter how random) and ask. They can be a great resource for some insight into the city and the Argentine lifestyle.
Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself into the bilingual community in Buenos Aires! Whether you’re studying abroad in buenos aires or doing one of Mente’s many internships in buenos aires you will benefit from a night with Spanglish!