Arrived in Buenos Aires and realized you don’t speak a word of Spanish? Not to worry. The city is full of opportunities to learn and practice your “Rioplatense” Spanish. Porteños love to talk, whether it be with their best friend, cab driver, or doorman, so there is never a shortage of conversation in Buenos Aires!
The Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires is unique to any other spoken in the world. With a pronounced accent, fast dialogue and a love for local slang, visitors may find it hard to initially catch onto spoken conversation in the capital. Good thing that there are various ways to pick up the local dialect, many of which are free!
If you’re interested in learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, the first and most obvious step is to check out a few Spanish schools. There are dozens of Spanish schools scattered across the city, depending on what learning experience you are looking for. Schools range from small and academically focused to large and filled with international students. The three biggest schools are COINED, Expanish, and ECELA, which also offer weekly cultural activities to practice your Spanish outside of the classroom. Smaller schools, like Vamos Spanish Academy and Vos Culture Club, offer personalized programs in a closer learning community. Many schools offer a free or inexpensive “Spanish Crash Course” to learn basic expressions in a compact class necessary for travellers in Argentina.
Language exchanges promote cross cultural interaction and provide a place to practice language skills and share international culture. There are many throughout the city, often free or with a small cost that includes a consumption. The most popular are Mundo Lingo, Spanglish, and Buenos Aires Swap, which are held on various nights of the week at rotating bars or cafés. Some offer a specific topic of conversation to practice, and others simply let the conversation flow, so figure out which style suits you the best. Grab a drink and mingle with native Argentines and other foreigners practicing their Spanish in a relaxed, pressure-free learning environment!
Quickfacts on Rioplatense Spanish
No time for any of the above? Here are a few must know facts and expressions to use in Buenos Aires:
Accent: The most notable difference to other spoken Spanish in Latin America is the pronunciation of “ll” or y” which actually sounds like “sh”. Imagine calle (street) pronounced as cashee or lluvia (rain) pronounced as shuvia.
Speaking tendencies: Notorious for speaking very fast and blending words together, Porteños are actually very welcoming to non native speakers practicing Spanish if you ask them to speak slower. Take note of vos, which replaces tú (you) and comes with its own conjugation of verbs.
Some useful Lunfardo (Buenos Aires slang):
○ Porteño: Resident from Buenos Aires
○ Ché: Hey!
○ Copado: Cool
○ Bárbaro: Great
○ Boludo/a: Dude (bad connotation)
○ No dá: Unacceptable
○ Chamuyero: Smooth talker
○ Tano: Italian-Italian descent
○ Posta: The truth
○ Boliche: Dance Club
○ Colectivo/ Bondi: Bus
○ Subte: Subway
○ Quilombo: Chaotic mess
○ Re-: really, very
After a few days of keeping your ears open to the melodic sounds of the Porteño accent, you will be ready to take on and conquer the beautiful Spanish in Buenos Aires!