5 Years!

Come one, come all, to this Spanglish-style ball! This Saturday, November 30th, we are having our 5 year anniversary party at Spanglish! Come celebrate with us the amazing past years as we toast to the years gone by, to the years to come, to the people who have come and those who are yet to discover us!

Spanglish, just like language, is constantly evolving, from its roots as an informal gathering in Maya May’s house in San Telmo to the bars in Palermo we find ourselves in nowadays. We have gone all around Buenos Aires, we have done different events like brunches and pub quizzes, and we thrive on diversity, just like we thrive because of the different people who show up, from the local Argentines to our guests from all around the world. Even we, the staff, have come and gone throughout the years, giving Spanglish a constantly fresh face that smiles at you and checks you in!

Want to join the revelries as we toast Spanglish? Then head on over to this casual Spanglish session that will turn into a rocking fest. Check-in starts at 9pm as usual in ‘Tout Le Monde’ (Gurruchaga 1417), entry costing 50 pesos which includes free shots from 9-10pm, Spanish style appetizers, a free drink and… cake! Come on, who doesn’t love cake?

We’re planning extra special treats for you guys, including a photobooth where you can snap some pics with your Spanglish friends (old or new!), drinking games to really get into the spirit of Spanglish, and chill-out informal Spanglish-style conversations. It won’t be the usual Spanglish session because it’s a party!

We’re going to be taking loads of pictures (more than usual), so dress up if you want to look hot and snazzy (obviously we won’t demand a dress code because that’s how we roll at Spanglish).

So don’t forget, ‘Tout Le Monde’ this Saturday!

Viva Spanglish!

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What is this thing called Spanglish???

Come on over to practice your Spanish at Spanglish! Wait- What? You don’t know what Spanglish is? Let me tell you!

Spanglish was started in 2008 by Maya May, who would host informal language exchanges in her house. She came to realize that there were many people interested in studying and learning languages but with no way of practicing their skills in their daily lives, so Maya invented Spanglish!

The format of Spanglish is similar to that of speed-dating, but don’t worry, we’re not trying to force you set you up or anything! Basically what happens is that a native English speaker is sat at a table with a native Spanish speaker. They chose what language to talk to each other in for five minutes and then voila, one of our cool cat coordinators will come around and cry ‘language switch!’, so if you started the conversation in English you’ll switch to Spanish and vice versa. After another five minutes, a coordinator will come yet again and announce a table switch, sending one of the two participants to a different table. This happens five times, and basically you’ve met a bunch of new people, you’ve practiced your English/Spanish and helped other people practice their English/Spanish. Sounds cool, right? It gets better.

Spanglish is set up in a bar, not a classroom. There is no teacher setting the rules on what the conversation should be on, no one pressuring you to be instantly fluent in five minutes or anything like that. This is a relaxed, fun, and most importantly social event, and what location can be more social than a bar? Need a little Dutch courage? Get a drink! You are there to talk about whatever you feel like talking about, establishing a connection with another person by simply chatting to them and improving your language skills at the same time.

Before the event begins, we have a thirty minute grace period while registration begins so you can get to meet, if you so wish, the people you will probably get sat at a table witch, so you can get questions such as ‘what’s your name?’, ‘what are you doing in Buenos Aires?’, ‘WHYY Buenos Aires?’ and such out of the way before delving right into whatever you want to talk about when the event begins. We also have a ten minute break after the third round of switching tables for those who need a refill or would like to go outside for a cigarette.

At the moment we’re hosting three events a week, so if you can’t make the Thursday event from 8-10pm in Palermo, you can rock up to the Recoleta event from 9-11pm or even use the Saturday 9-11pm Palermo event to start off your night!

Depending what bar we’re at we get special prices on food and drink, and the standard fee for an event is 50 pesos (30 pesos if you’re a student!), so don’t be shy, we don’t bite (often), come over and meet some cool new people and practice your Spanglish!

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Halloween in BA

Have you ever gone to a costume party and someone shows up wearing ski clothes? And they think they’re hilarious, all like ‘Dude, I’m a skier’… And then you just want to punch them in the face. Or even worse: pyjamas.

I refuse to accept those outfits as costumes; they’re merely the product of some lazy idiot who couldn’t be bothered to dress in black and pretend to be a goth or something.

Sadly, this is often the case in Argentina. There is no real Halloween culture here. In some privileged gated communities, though, you do get organized trick-or-treat outings for little children organized by their ‘oh-so-cool’ young yuppie parents. Can you imagine if on Thursday someone dressed up as a zombie and went around Recoleta demanding candy? The police would most definitely be involved by the end of this hypothetical scenario.

What we do have, though, are club nights starting Thursday and probably continuing throughout the weekend that will be Halloween-themed, meaning in the right circumstances you will be able to don the zombie costume after all. No candy though. For girls, sexy outfits are okay, because as everyone knows “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” If you are a girl and do decide on wearing the R-rated version of some Disney Princess, be safe. If Sexy Little Red Riding Hood decides to take a shortcut through the bosques de Palermo at night a wolf would probably be last thing she should be afraid of.

Halloween parties are becoming more and more common due to the fact that American culture is spilling over into Argie, and many people host their own private costume parties. (If you do go to one of these parties and find the ‘skier’ or the ‘sleeper’… you know what to do.)

Here are a few original ideas for costumes that could bridge the gap between American and Argentine culture:

A Blue Dollar: Literally. Just dress up as a dollar-bill but paint it blue. If you don’t know what this means open a damn newspaper.

Black Tights: It’s kind of sad that most newspapers had headlines reading ‘The President wore tights’, but for me the scariest thing was that Kristina showed she had some rocking gams.

Pot and Spoon (couples costume): Ever heard of a cacerolazo? It’s one of Argentine’s national pastimes. If there’s something you don’t like going on just take to the streets or hold a pot and beat it with a spoon outside your window like a mad person. If nothing else, it really helps channel some of that pent-up frustration.

Lobizón: Check it out here

Gauchito Gil and Difunta Correa: Check it out here

Don’t know what to do on Thursday for Halloween? Can’t stay up too late? That’s fine, we have the solution! Come on over to Spanglish on Thursday from 8-10pm for a Halloween-themed event! Dress to impress (in a scary way would be cool).

If you’re looking for a decadent party to go to later, with actually decent production values, I recommend heading over to Club 69 for their Halloween bash. You might see things that might scar you for life, but, hey, it’s Halloween.

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Learn Spanish Slang in Buenos Aires

As many of you who have visited Buenos Aires know, the Spanish spoken here is very different than the Spanish spoken in Spanish classrooms in the United States.  Argentines are very inventive with the language and have some interesting and entertaining idioms.

One of my favorites is Quemarse la cabeza.

Translated literally it would mean that your head is on fire, as in the picture above, but in conversation it can mean either that it blows your mind or that you are burnt out.

Mala leche

Mala leche is literally translated as spoiled milk but in castellano porteño, it means bad luck. Running to catch the bus (or bondi as they say in lunfardo) and having the driver pull away while you’re banging like a maniac on the door? That’s mala leche.

La verdad de la milanesa

La Verdad de La Milanesa

It’s the truth of the breaded and fried beef…literally. It means the ”real deal” and while you’re in Buenos Aires it’s imperative you try one. If you want me to tell you la verdad de la milanesa, if you visit Argentina and you don’t try a milanesa then you might as well have stayed at home.

At Spanglish we teach the Spanish words you need to know.

These slang words might not be in your average Spanish dictionary, but they’re used pretty frequently in Argentina.At Spanglish you can learn Argentine Spanish from the experts – we teach essential Spanish vocabulary so you can make the most of your trip. Check out the Spanglish Exchange event schedule on Facebook.

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E3 Art of Networking in English – Q & A with Bridge Argentina Director Carlos Pizarro

The Art of Networking in English

Launches January 28, 2013 :: 6:30pm at Urban Station (Microcentro)

The Art of Networking in English

Networking and making new business contacts is hard enough as it is, now imagine having to network in English when it is not your native language.  Often language barriers in the business world limit the business professional’s ability to develop productive business relationships here in Argentina and abroad. If you’re learning English in Buenos Aires you’ve probably taken a business English course either in-company or on your own time. Studying English formally is an excellent way to gain English skills for the business world.

However, mastering English also requires practicing with native English speakers – so Bridge Argentina and Spanglish Exchange have collaborated to create E3 – Networking in English. Launching in January 2013, E3 is a networking event that combines a challenging English curriculum inspired by relevant situations, guided activities with native English speakers and conversations with visiting business professionals. In this interview about Business English, Spanglish Exchange Director Maya May talks to Carlos Pizarro, Director of BridgeEnglish Argentina about the challenges Argentines often face when trying to improve their business English skills.

Carlos Pizarro

Carlos Pizarro, Director BridgeArgentina

Maya May

Maya May, Founder and Director of Spanglish Exchange

Q. Are Argentine business professionals prepared to use their English in a dynamic and professional setting such as conferences abroad?

A. Many Argentines have done a lot of language studying during their lives. However, when attending conferences or going abroad, they find they lack the fluency needed to sound natural.

Q. What is the biggest challenge for non-native speakers when immersed in all English business situations?

A. Most of our business skills have to do with our personal way of using our native language. This native intuition leads us to sound natural and convincing. Hesitation, using the wrong word, or even words that are not wrong but aren’t as effective in other languages, are all things that stand in the way of effective communication.

Q. Many students study English with private tutors or at language institutes such as Bridge. What’s the main difference between business English and colloquial English?

A. The structure is the same, pronunciation is similar. However the words we use and the contexts we deal with change drastically. There are also specific areas such as writing emails, telephoning, or giving presentations that deal with some very specific aspects of language that are not used in our everyday speech.

Q. Any recommendations for advanced level English students to achieve native proficiency?

A. Never lose your passion for learning. I have seen several students feel they “know enough” and of course, the learning process stops the minute you lose your motivation.

Q. What is the best way for professionals to improve their business English prior to a business trip abroad?

A.   Come and join E3, of course!

Enhance your English at networking events designed for busy professionals.

Enhance your English at networking events designed for busy professionals.

The first E3 will be held at Urban Station (Microcentro) – Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6:30pm. Space is limited – you can reserve your space online for AR$225.

E3 is brought to you by Bridge English Argentina and Spanglish Exchange.

About Spanglish Exchange

As featured in Fortune Small Business, Forbes Argentina, Buenos Aires Herald and La Nación, Spanglish Exchange has brought together more than 17,000 language learners through its events in Argentina and Spain since its inception in 2008. Spanglish Founder Maya May was listed as one of “50 Entrepreneurs Breaking the Mold” in the April 2012 issue of Apertura.

About BridgeEnglish Argentina

BridgeEnglish Argentina is part of Bridge, an international company founded in 1983 dedicated to providing innovative services in language, education, and travel. Every year, Bridge’s centers in Chile, Brazil and the US provide quality language instruction, teacher training, and professional development to thousands of people across the globe and has been featured in iEco, Cronista and La Nación.

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Gracias al éxito de nuestra promo de 50% off en el pase anual, te damos una última oportunidad de obtener un año ilimitado de Spanglish con descuentos para que conozcas más gente con la que SI quieres conversar.

Promo escalonada de fin de año.
555 pesos – hasta el 12 de Diciembre
666 pesos – hasta el 19 de Diciembre
777 pesos – hasta el 24 de Diciembre

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Celebrating 4 years of Spanglish Exchange – Buenos Aires!!

The pics from last Friday’s Spanglish Exchange – Buenos Aires 4 year anniversary party are finally up! Thanks to all who celebrated with us one more year of buenos amigos. Tag yourselves and don’t forget to stop by the same place this week to help us keep growing.

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4 years of bringing people together. It’s time to celebrate and we want YOU to join us!!

We’re celebrating four years of Spanglish. We couldn’t pick a better week to show how thankful we are to have so many loyal Spanglishers! In honor of our anniversary, we decided to share some footage, from the archives, of Spanglish in it’s early years…Enjoy!

Spanglish after our first month of business…

The beginning of our second year of language exchange…

So if you haven’t been to Spanglish yet, let us show you what it looks like after four years of growth and progress:

What Spanglish is like these days…

Don’t forget to one of our events this week starting tonight at Club Serrano (8 PM).

Join us at the events, especially our ANNIVERSARY PARTY on Friday at AZCUÉNAGA BAR (Vicente López 2190) at 10pm. We’ll have open bar until 1am and free appetizers for only 120 pesos, includes the after party at LIV-Together. A party not to be missed!!

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Más Spanglish, por menos. Te regalamos el pase anual a 50%off!

Nuevas experiencias con nuevos amigos de todo el mundo durante todo un año.
Llevate tu pase anual a 50% OFF. Spanglish para todo un año a tan sólo 444 pesos. Disfrutalo en cuotas con Mercado Pago en www.SpanglishExchange.com/Promotions

Adquirila antes de la fiesta de aniversario y te regalamos 4 pases para que lleves a tus amigos a Spanglish Exchange.

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Last minute costume ideas for Halloween!

Trick or Treat, be Bilingual this Week!!

If your busy schedules have kept you from spending any real time to think about your costume ideas for Halloween and you can’t find a costume shop open, here’s some help…

1. If you fold some cardboard long ways you can make wings for anything from The Fly to a cute bumblebee!

2. Bathing suit, tights, boots, towel.  Add some masking tape and you can be a super hero!

3. A lot of charcoal and a little patience can go a long way.  You can be a homeless person with the help of some mismatching shoes, a little newspaper and a trench coat.

Now that you have several ideas, there’s no reason you shouldn’t come to Spanglish Exchange this Wednesday and celebrate Halloween (with or without costume).  At 8pm, we’ll be turning the terraza of  Club Serrano into an awesome party place where you can meet friends from all over the world while you enjoy free -all you can eat- pizza along with the perfect Halloween atmosphere.  Check out our event for more details!

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Tricks to help improve your Spanish!

After asking the native English speakers at Spanglish Exchange what they struggled with the most while learning Spanish, we found these two areas to be the most commonly mentioned.  Here are some consejos that should help you get a grip on these tricky topics.

1. Prepositions

These seem to be hard in any language because they’re so distinto in every idioma.  While there are a lot more, we found these to be the most commonly used.  Here are the contexts they can be used in:

A:  To- Vamos a Spanglish.  We are going to Spanglish.

At- Vengo a las nueve.  I am coming at 9.

By means of- Viajamos a pie.  We are traveling by foot.

De: Of- El folleto es hecho de papel. The brochure is made of paper.

From- Soy de Missouri. I’m from Missouri.

Indicating possession- Prefiero el trago de Javier. I prefer Javier’s drink.

En: In- Ella está en Caballito. She is in Caballito.

On-  La guita está en la mesa. The money is on the table.

Para: For- La etiqueta es para usted. The sticker is for you.

In order to- Practico mi castellano para chamuyar con las chicas. I practice my Spanish in order to flirt with girls.

Por:  For- Gracias por el consejo. Thanks for the advice.

By- Fue escrito por Johanna. It was written by Johanna.

2. Gender

Identifying masculine and feminine words can be difficult for English speakers since everything is neutral en ingles.  For the most part you can look at the ending vowel.  If it ends in -o, it’s masculine and if it ends in -a, it’s feminine.  There are exceptions however:

Words ending in -a:

Words that end in –ma like clima, tema, problema, etc., are actually all masculine.

Professions and roles that end in –ista or –eta can be either gender, depending on whether the person is male or female.  This includes words like el poeta (male poet) and la dentista (female dentist).

Words ending in –ion:

People tend to give words that don’t end in a vowel a masculine article (el/un).  This is a good approach to take as long as the word doesn’t end in –ion.  These words are always feminine.  For example: la nacion, la pasion, la cancion.

There’s one other thing to watch out for:

There are a few feminine nouns that are preceded with el/un in singular, but change to las/unas when pluralized.

Too confusing?  Don’t trip, I’ll explain…

If there’s a word in between the article and the noun, the article becomes feminine.

Example: la gran aguila.

If the first syllable isn’t stressed with an accent then the word is preceded with a feminine article.  In other words, if the noun begins with a- or ha- it will use la or una.

Examples: La habilidad, la asamblea.

Keep in mind that this rule only applies for nouns, not adjectives.

While it’s advisable to take notes on this, the only way you’re really gonna improve (even if you come up with a neumonic device to remember) is to practice applying these rules.  I honestly can’t think of a better place to do it while having fun than Spanglish Exchange.  You have four days a week you can practice with natives.  You can find the schedule of all the weekly events at our website as well.

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The Importance of Knowing Slang

In the past four years we’ve had the pleasure of meeting such a variety of people from all over the world.  Unfortunately, about half of them leave, after a short period of time, to continue their travels.  Luckily, we’ve been able to stay in touch with all of them!  In celebration of our 4-year anniversary (which is coming up) we figured we would see how some of our Spanglish vets are doing.  This week, we got in touch with Dan McKay, who used to be a regular, and had a quick Q&A session with him about his Spanglish Exchange experience…

Q: Do you remember the first person you talked to at Spanglish?

A: Actually, I don’t remember the first person, I remember the first night, it was a Koh Lanta in Feb 2011, I was in Buenos Aires for a couple of weeks and I had seen this ‘Spanglish’ thing on I think the travel channel and thought I would give it a go. I still have friends from that first night that I keep in touch with, so that says a lot.

Q: What’s the most interesting conversation you remember having at Spanglish Exchange?

A: That is kind of an unfair question, because I had so many interesting conversations, and the topics varied so wildly because there is such a wide spectrum of people that partake in Spanglish. I remember discussing building codes and regulations in BsAs (not as boring as it may sound), I remember talking to one girl, and I know this sounds bad and it is not typical, but her focus was on getting a US visa or passport, I remember talking about such a wide range of topics it was great for my Spanish vocab. 
Going back to the first question, on my first night I tried using some slang from Spain, thinking that it would be the same in Argentina, how embarrassingly wrong I was. I made sure to learn lunfardo after that.

Q: The effects of a few beers on your Spanish?

A: One problem that a lot of people find learning a second language is getting over the fear of making a mistake so often they keep their mouths shut and limit their own learning. Having a beer or two can help give us ‘dutch courage’ and we become less focused on making mistakes, which is exactly what you need to do if you want to improve your Spanish. Not every sentence you say is going to be correct, but getting over that fear or concern is very important if you want to improve your Spanish. One nice side effect is that by gaining more confidence speaking among a group of friends carries over to when you are in the street for example. At Spanglish, that person on the other side of the table knows what it is like to learn another language and they are helpful and understanding.

Q: What gave you the idea to write “Quién me llama?”

A: After I left Argentina, I ended up in Colombia for a while and although I spoke Spanish well I was having a hell of a time having a good conversation, and I noticed this especially when talking to taxi drivers. So, I spent a week or so learning the slang and then suddenly life was so much easier and a lot more fun. You just cannot underestimate the importance of the slang in each country. Anyway, then I ended up here in Lima and I found myself with the same challenge, it was like I was missing a big part of the language. So I started studying the slang, and I was looking for a book to make my life simple, it did not exist, at the time. So I thought why not just write one this time. So that is how it came about. My local friends in Peru are impressed with the amount of slang I know and it has really given me a different experience here. I think one of the successes was watching a Peruvian movie in the cinema here which was heavily laced with slang, I had no problem understanding it, whereas a friend with the same level of Spanish but without knowing the slang found it a real struggle. The bottom line is no matter how good your Spanish is you still need to learn the local slang wherever you are if you want to really enjoy the place and get the whole experience.

Q: What do you miss most about Spanglish?

A: You Maya  haha, ok seriously then, I guess the fact that there is such a diverse group of people that you get to meet. I have met people that I would not normally ever come into contact with, so beyond improving my Spanish in a relaxed social setting I get to learn more about different people, their outlooks, their experiences. Really, I have fond memories of Spanglish.

We have fond memories of you too, Dan!  If you’re interested in buying a copy of Dan’s book feel free to order one here.If you want to share your past Spanglish Exchange experience with the rest of us feel free to contact us on Facebook and let the rest of the world know what they’re missing out on!

Posted in Buenos Aires, Language Learning, Language Travel, Spanglishers from Buenos Aires and Beyond, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Spanglish Exchange at NYU in Buenos Aires

Once again, we had an amazing turn out at our NYU Orientation for the Fall Semester 2012!  Both English and Spanish speakers said they had a great time practicing their second languages with the people they interacted with.  Click on the picture to see the album on Facebook and see all the fun we had!

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The game of language exchange

Just like you have to exercise the muscles you use to move, it’s important to exercise your speaking muscles too.  When learning Spanish, act as if you’re an athlete and Spanglish Exchange is your training ground. You practice with three different people, take a drink break to refuel on Liquid Courage and finish strong with your last two partners.  Be prepared to impulsively speak Spanish after getting sucked into the conversation—not to mention the beer you very well may be drinking at the event.

For most of our lives, we’ve been told not to speak before thinking.  This is usually a good consejo to follow, but when it comes to speaking Spanish our brains can sometimes get in the way. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t let your fear of saying something in the wrong order keep you from expressing yourself.  You’ll get another chance to correct the mistake after the next table rotation.

After all, if you were doing training drills for a partido de futbol would you stop to think how to shoot the ball if you momentarily forgot? The more you speak the more chances you have to correct your speech and improve it in the next drill.

It doesn’t take a special skill to learn a foreign language. It takes practice.  You can improve your Spanish by practicing the same way Lionel Messi and Luciana Aymar improve their skills: repetition.  You have to force yourself to speak until your phrases become non-conscious.  Don’t worry about saying “Hola, todo bien? De donde sos?” several times a night. Repeating the same thing helps improve your muscle memory, which will lead you to speak more naturally and even impulsively. It will also do wonders for your accent and pronunciation.  You’ll notice the difference the next time you start up a conversation with the mina who is eying you on the colectivo.

Like a sport, language learning is a commitment that you have to dedicate a lot of time to on a regular basis.  “What if a baby only spoke once a week? It would take ten years for it to learn to speak,” explains Spanglish Exchange Founder Maya May.

Attending as little as three times a week, for 2 hours at a time, the average attendee is exposed to an unparalleled quantity of native speakers – over 50 different native speakers in just 30 days.

Aside from speaking regularly, what benefits does Spanglish Exchange bring to learning Spanish?

Dynamic Contact: Contact with over 50 native speakers of the target language in just 30 days.

Relaxed environment: Recreates real life conversations and relationships so students won’t fear taking their skills into the real world.

Active Listening: Real life environment requires learners to focus intensely in order to carry on a conversation, which heightens how much information they retain.

Multidimensional: 15% of communication is speaking. Students learn more when they see hand gestures, contextual references, etc.

This is why Spanglish Exchange is the perfect training camp for Spanish learners.  Regularly hablando Castellano improves your Spanish speaking muscles so you don’t have to stall when it’s time to shoot the ball.

Like all athletes, it’s good to stretch before practice or a game.  Here’s a good trabalengua that can help you warm up before going to Spanglish Exchange.

En la población de Puebla, pueblo muy poblado, hay una plaza pública poblada de pueblerinos.

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Woke up this morning thinking en Castellano

As crazy as it may sound, one of the goals to improve my Spanish was to unconsciously think in Spanish (something I did regularly as a kid).  I knew that in order for that to happen I would have to start thinking consciously in Spanish first.  For a few months, I got really frustrated when my impulsive thoughts and inner monologues came out in English. After 3 months in Buenos Aires, I was starting to get skeptical about ever regaining my Spanish fluency from childhood.

“I thought you were from Argentina until I heard you speak” was a phrase that was steadily killing my spirit.  I guess I just expected to get my Spanish back with less effort.

I figured “as long as I’m living here I’ll surely get it back.”

WRONG!  I wasn’t counting on knowing so many U.S. expats and only needing to speak Spanish to order my daily fix of empanadas.

Not having time to take classes with LV Studio can make your speaking level stale once you get past the basic steps of learning Spanish.  Teaching English in Buenos Aires and working for Spanglish left me little time to proactively work on mi Castellano.

I was stumbling over my words at the weekly Spanglish events and struggling to retain the vocabulary I was learning. This happened until I started applying Spanish to my everyday activities.

Doing this keeps people from saying, “I don’t have time to practice my Spanish outside of Spanglish Exchange.”

It’s crucial to regularly exercise production and comprehension skills to maintain and improve your Spanish.  Here are some tips on how to do this throughout your day.

1. Reading

This should take the least amount of effort, while living in Buenos Aires, since every street sign and ad is en Castellano.  Also, try reading aloud so you can practice your pronunciation.  This is crucial when using long words that can be hard to say quickly, like familiarizado.  Practice situations you would use it in:

Si estoy familiarizado con Spanglish en Recoleta.”

2. Listening

If you’re not into local music—like cumbia, tango or Argentine rock—you can still listen to the news.  This helped me get used to keeping up with the fast pace at which Argentines speak.  It’s such an effective manner of improving your listening skills because it gives you a visual reference to what’s being talked about.  It also gives you more stuff to talk about when you go to Spanglish Exchange. This also helps you pick up new phrases. However, you may still need to keep a dictionary near the TV to look up words you’re not familiarizado with.

3. Writing

If you’re too busy to take a class, a good exercise to improve your writing skills is making your to-do lists in Spanish.  This can help you learn new vocabulary to explain to people at Spanglish Exchange what you do during the week.

Next time you go out to buy groceries, write your list in Spanish.  If you don’t know a word, use this as a chance to look it up and learn a new one.

Emails and texts should be done in Spanish as well.  You should make a conscious effort to enviar anything you can in Spanish (as long as your recipient understands).

4. Thinking

Even if you don’t know anyone else in Buenos Aires, and the only chance you get to practice speaking outside of Spanglish Exchange is at the grocery store and on the colectivo, you can always practice with yourself.  As crazy as this may sound and look—if you do it in public—you will notice the benefits next time you do speak with another person.  Don’t know what to talk to yourself about in Spanish?  You can start off with multiple step processes.  This can include directions, grocery shopping and cooking.  These all use practical vocabulary that you can use in A and B conversations.

Start saying your inner monologue in Spanish as well.  Next time you’re looking for something, instead of thinking:

“Where did I leave that damn pen?”

Say: “Donde deje esa maldita lapicera?”

Directions are easy to think of in Spanish because, even in English, you usually process them slower and more deliberately than more impulsive thoughts.  When you’re reviewing the directions to the new Spanglish venue at Maxim, do it in Spanish:

“Queda dos cuadras de Funes y La Maga en Borges.”

Doing math is something that we usually do pretty fast in our native tongue so you may want to avoid this until you’re thinking a little quicker in Spanish.   I’m still working on this step.

Remember to have patience with yourself.  This is no overnight process.  It wasn’t until about a month ago when I woke up and my first thoughts were:

“Toda via tengo que preparer la clase de Guillermo!  También tengo que enviar un email a mi jefa!”

I was tripping out so much over what I had to do that it wasn’t until I jumped out of bed that I realized:

“Estoy pensando en Castellano!”

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