EXPLORE THE NIGHTLIFE
If there is 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 will help ease the transition. People are so welcoming and friendly here that almost everyone you meet will be willing to help coach you through a simple Spanish conversation.
A few glasses of Malbec doesn´t hurt either…
Try Mundo Lingo, an event that caters to people looking to practice a different language, in order to guarantee a night filled with Spanish. Check out their Facebook page for the bar of the night.
One of the best ways to learn vocabulary is to go to a supermarket, an outdoor market, a fair, or any other type of shopping expedition. I guarantee that you’ll learn new vocabulary with each outing. Buenos Aires has a ton of open-air markets where you can buy everything from fresh produce to house products, to clothing. These places usually don’t serve yourself, which means that you’ll have to practice your newfound vocabulary right then and there.
Restaurants are also a great opportunity to continue practicing Spanish outside of the classroom. Usually, menus come filled with new vocabulary. If you’re lucky you’ll have a menu in English as well to help out, but I recommend looking at the Spanish menu and attempting to order in Spanish in order to practice both vocabulary and pronunciation.
San Telmo outdoor produce market on Saturdays and San Telmo Fair on Sundays (bonus if you try bargaining in Spanish).
JOIN A CLUB
Buenos Aires has many different options for clubs and sports teams around the city. Some are free and some you just have to pay a small monthly, weekly, or one-time fee to join. 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. There are also conversation clubs and meetups where people get together to practice Spanish.
BA Ciudad (http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/) is a great resource. They offer a range of free classes throughout the city for all age groups.
One of the most authentic ways to practice Spanish outside the classroom is to volunteer. There are many options around the city that all cater to many different interests. At Expanish we offer eight different volunteer options, but if we don’t have what you’re looking for there is sure to be some other organization that does. Usually volunteering in Buenos Aires revolves around children, and there´s no better way to practice Spanish in a comfortable and relaxed environment that while working with kids.
It may sound like obvious advice, but reading little articles can really help boost your Spanish. I find that if I wake up and read a bit in Spanish it puts my mind in Spanish mode. It´s easy to wake up immediately check your phone, scroll through Facebook, or respond to a quick text in English. I challenge you to pick up a book for 10-15 minutes in the morning a see what a difference it makes.
Bonus Challenge: Read out loud to yourself in order to practice both vocabulary and pronunciation without the pressure of class.
Here are a few options:
Kindle: Your Kindle has the unique option to highlight a word and it will give you the definition of said word. It does it all for you.
Newspaper: Take a quick peek at some events happening in Buenos Aires and also learn a few keys words to throw around in your next political discussion.
Magazines: There´s nothing like reading a little Cosmo in Spanish to really help take you to the next level…No but seriously, reading a simple article about a topic that you’re already familiar with (i.e. celebrities, movies reviews, fashion advice etc.) can teach new vocabulary in a familiar setting.
Children´s Books: This is probably the easiest way to learn new vocabulary, especially if you choose a book that you’re already familiar with.
Netflix: Make sure to take advantage of the fact that Netflix offers both subtitles and dubbing for many of their shows. Even just adding subtitles can help you associate Spanish words with their English definitions.
Movies: Watching movies in Spanish can drastically help expand vocabulary. Try going to the movie theater after you’ve watched a few movies in the comfort of your own home and have gotten a grasp of the speed of a typical movie. Often, subtitles can help a lot with basic understanding. Don´t miss the Expanish Film Club: watching movies after class with a teacher to help is a great start!
Any extra effort made outside of the classroom is bound to help you continue to improve. It´s all about those baby steps!
Suerte a todos! (Good luck everyone!)