Tips for practicing Spanish outside of the classroom
Learning Spanish abroad in Buenos Aires is a very exciting, memorable time for many students. Most dream of foreign adventures like exploring new cities, trying new foods, and practicing a new language. In addition to attending a program at a qualified school and learning how to speak Spanish, students may wonder how they can practice their new language skills outside of the classroom. Not to worry! We’ve collected some tips on ways that students can engage with the language and speak Spanish when not at Expanish.
Explore the Nightlife
If there’s ever a time to take advantage of the nightlife scene, it’s when you’re trying to learn a new language. Speaking Spanish can be intimidating when you’re outside the classroom, but the social scene in Buenos Aires can help to ease the transition. Locals are very welcoming and friendly, almost everyone you meet will be willing to help coach you through a simple Spanish conversation. However, a few glasses of delicious Malbec doesn’t hurt either… There are meetup groups in the city as well as international language exchanges that meet for drinks and a night full of conversation.
Suggestion: If you’re already in the city and are looking to get involved, check out MundoLingo. It’s a group that hosts language exchanges throughout the city and they usually have multiple events every week.
Shop, Shop, Shop
One of the best ways to practice the Spanish language is to speak to locals in everyday situations. Go to a supermarket, an outdoor festival, a fair, or any other type of shopping expedition. You’ll learn new vocabulary with every outing! Buenos Aires also has a multitude of open-air markets where you can buy everything from fresh produce to house products to clothing. Most places aren’t self-serve, so you’ll need to know your vocabulary or be prepared to use a lot of hand gestures.
Eating at a restaurant is another great way to continue practicing your Spanish outside of the classroom. Typically, menus are filled with new vocabulary that you may not learn in school. Instead of opting for an English menu, challenge yourself to order from the Spanish menu and you’ll find yourself quickly learning new vocabulary in no time.
Suggestion: San Telmo has an outdoor produce market on Saturdays and the famous Fair on Sundays. Bargaining with the vendors is a great way to get a deal and practice your Spanish!
Join a Club or Sports Team
Buenos Aires has many different options for clubs and sports teams around the city, some are free while others have a small joining fee. There is a range of activities and you can get involved in anything from a club soccer team, a Saturday morning aerobics class, or a photography club. These clubs are great opportunities to meet porteños as well as practice your Spanish with locals. There are also conversation clubs and meetups where people get together with the specific intent of practicing Spanish.
Suggestion: BA Ciudad is a great digital resource; it offers a range of free classes throughout the city for all age groups. Consider signing up for a class and practice your Spanish in an organic setting.
One of the most authentic ways to practice Spanish outside the classroom is to volunteer. There are many options in and around the city that cater to many different interests. Volunteering in Buenos Aires usually revolves around children, and there’s no better way to practice Spanish than in a comfortable, relaxed environment.
Suggestion: Ask an admissions advisor at Expanish for help identifying volunteering opportunities in the city. They have a list of organizations that past students have volunteered at and had positive experiences.
It may sound like simple advice, but reading little articles can really help boost your Spanish level. Here are a few options for getting in some Spanish literature:
E-reader: An e-reader has the unique option to highlight, translate, and define a word, all in the palm of your hand.
Newspaper: Take an interest at events happening in Buenos Aires and Argentina. This is the perfect opportunity to learn new political vocabulary.
Magazines: There’s nothing like reading Cosmo in Spanish to really help take you to the next level. Reading an article about a topic that you’re already familiar with (i.e. celebrities, movie reviews, fashion advice, etc.) can teach you new vocabulary in a familiar setting.
Children’s Books: This is probably the easiest way to learn new vocabulary. Choose a book that you’re already familiar with and enjoy learning the new sayings and phrases.
Suggestion: Spend the first 15 minutes of your day reading in Spanish. Whether it be a book, newspaper, magazine, or other literature, it’ll help jumpstart your mind and your Spanish language.
Watch TV or a Movie
Watching a TV series or movie in Spanish will greatly improve your Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary. When watching Netflix, adding English subtitles to accompany the Spanish audio, or vice versa, will help you associate Spanish vocabulary with English definitions. In addition, going to the movie theater to watch a movie in Spanish will drastically improve your Spanish language skills.
Suggestion: Watch a few movies at home before attempting the movie theater as you’ll be able to enable subtitles and get accustomed to accents and speaking speed.
For all Spanish students, practicing the language is an integral part of learning to speak and understand fluently. Any extra effort made outside of the classroom is bound to help you continue to improve. Our last suggestion: it’s all about those baby steps! Make every moment count.