Blog

By Aaron Hodges

If you're looking for a good spot to learn Spanish in 2019, then look no further than Buenos Aires! Not only does this city have some amazing architecture and crazy nightlife, it also boasts a budding food scene that will satisfy even the fussiest of foodies. And not just with their world-famous barbeque.

Dining out in Buenos Aires is an experience you don't want to miss, and an evening walk through the neighborhood of Palermo will reveal a host of tasty restaurants. Unlike many parts of South America, Buenos Aires offers a real variety on the cuisine you can experience -from Chinese to Spanish and much more. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a steak as much as the next guy, but there's only so much meat you can eat in one week. 

Fortunately, Buenos Aires does not let you down, and after a month there's plenty of places for me to try. So far, my favorite has probably been the variety of a night out wandering the tapas bars of Palermo, where the Spanish tradition has grown in popularity in recent years. Of course, the three meal special in a cocktail bar (which included a free cocktail) was also great, with the highlight being a main of roast lamb that impressed even this kiwi.

Of course though, you probably aren't going to visit Buenos Aires just for its sushi and dumplings. Let's face it. If you're making the trip all the way to Argentina, it's the steak you can't wait to try. Fortunately, the international food is just the cheery on top of the cake. This city is plenty of barbeque restaurants or parrillas as they are known here. If you're looking for the best asado on the market, then look no further than the restaurant "Don Julio". Located in central Palermo, this place offers a truly magnificent (and enormous) steak. And while you will be paying a little more than your average restaurant in the city, you might be lucky enough to be offered free bubbly at the door while you're waiting for a table.

Fortunately, if Don Julio is a bit expensive for your tastes, Buenos Aires also hosts a ton of other parrillas, offering options for all budgets. Though, of course, the cheaper a place is the less likely they are going to speak any English! But then, that's the same for for everything in any of the countries down in this amazing continent. If there's one thing that surprised me on my first trip to Latin America way back in 2015, it's how difficult it is to get by without the local language. Unlike South East Asia and Europe, English is not particularly common and even a week's worth of Spanish lessons could mean the difference between a good trip and a bad one.

Or in the case of your first eating out experience, just knowing the difference between carne and pescado!

 

 

If you are learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, you might want to stay connected to your family and friends back in your own country as well as to those new friends in the city.

As regards getting in touch with the locals, the first thing you might want to know is that Argentineans are very fond of WhatsApp. So be sure to download the app.

And as regards connectivity, most cafés and restaurants have free WiFi, which you will also find in the subway. Yet, a local SIM card (here called chip) will make things much easier as there are lots of apps to help you explore the city, as for example the one to visit Recoleta Cemetery, or the one to get you around the city. And if you're planning to be in Argentina for a limited time, the ideal chip is a prepaid one. Long postpaid contracts last for at least one year.

There are three local companies you can buy your chip from: Movistar, Personal or Claro. And although the chip can be bought in almost any Kiosco. Yet, ,  you will need to follow several steps to activate your chip, and if you choose to activate it by your own, instructions are in Spanish!  So I think it is better if you go to the offices of the company of your choice.

To buy the chip, remember to take your passport with you, and that your phone needs to be unlocked. 

 

 

 

 

By Aaron Hodges

There's probably a million reasons to learn a new language. Studies have found that learning a new language improves critical thinking, even if you don't get a chance to use it. And hundreds of cultures are able to interact because of second languages. But if you're like me, a native English speaker, understanding a second language is not exactly a common occurrence. If you ask me, that's our loss. And if you'd like to go against that status quo, I believe enrolling in a language school should be on the top of your list. 

Here's a few reasons why: 

1) Spanish is the second most spoken first language in the world

The first is Mandarin. English is third. I know, being a native English speaker sometimes it's easy to think the whole world speaks our lingo, from tour guides to baristas. They don't. Sure, if you stick to the well-worn tourists tracks you might be able to get by on English alone, but if you really want to experience and meet people from other countries, it helps to know a bit of the local lingo. And with its Latin base, you'll at least be able to link a few Spanish words to English ones -unlike Mandarin...

2) Travel the world

As I've said, there are a lot of countries that have Spanish as their local language —every country from Guatemala down to Patagonia (with the exceptions of Brazil and Belize, of course). And unlike SE Asia or Europe, there are very few people that actually speak English, even in the tourist industry. One of my funniest memories traveling South America was in Cusco, when a tourist office would only speak to us in Spanish! it is a good thing we had a bit of Spanish between us, because it was the only way to book the cheap but complicated $10 minibus to Machu Pichu, rather than taking the $100 train. 

3) Communicate with the locals

Some of my best experiences overseas have been conversations with random people on buses, trains or even just in the street. But that's a little bit difficult to do when you don't speak the language spoken by everyone around you. And if you're anything like me and have interest in local politics and history, that makes it even harder to get a gauge on the experiences of the average citizen.

4) Understand the menu

Yes, many places will be able to provide you an English menu, even in South America. You just might end up paying premium in some places for that convenience. And in my experience, often the best and cheapest local eateries might not even have a menu! In those places you'll need to know how to ask how much the meal is, and understand what they're saying when they ask whether you'd like your eggs revuelto o frito

All in all, speaking a second language is a skill all of us should aspire to ―and if you ask me, Spanish should be on the top of everyone's list! Even more so if you intend to visit South America, where even a week of Spanish lessons is going to save you a lot of strife!

 

 

 

Going abroad and learning the language of the country you are visiting is one of the smartest things to do: not only will you learn to communicate in that new language, but you will also understand the culture of the region you are visiting. Plus, you will be able to add a new skill to your resumé.

If you are planning to visit Argentina and learn Spanish, Buenos Aires is a very good spot to do so as there are Spanish schools that offer different kinds of courses, from private Spanish lessons to group courses. 

For your stay in Buenos Aires, keep in mind that:

Buenos Aires has fours seasons. It is very hot in the summer and quite cold in the winter, with bright sunny days in spring and autumn that can also be somewhat chilly. 

These differences in the weather will make your Spanish learning in Buenos Aires very exciting, yet you need to be prepared as you will need all types of clothes: you will need jeans, t-shirts, sweaters and one or two shirts. During the winter you will definitely need a jacket, it doesn't need to be too thick, and in the summer you might need shorts and a bathing suit. Yet remember: do not pack too much. You might want to buy something to remember your stay in Buenos Aires.

Here's a tip to take home something new: you can always buy leather goods. Belts, leather jackets and leather bags are a good choice for you to buy in Argentina. 

 

Xul Solar Museum is a museum dedicated exclusively to Alejandro Xul Solar (1887-1963), his work and life. Xul Solar was a painter, sculptor, writer, musician, linguist, inventor and astrologer. He was a friend of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinean writer. With so many interests and such a vast culture, Xul Solar was a multifaceted man.   

Our tip: whereas the museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 12am to 8pm, and o Saturdays from 12am to 7pm, we recommend you the guided visit. For a visit in English you can call the museum. And you only need to walk for about ten minutes to get from IW Languages to Xul Solar museum.

También tienen visitas en español para estudiantes intermedios y avanzados. Visitas en español: martes y jueves a las 16:00, y sábados a las 15:30.

¡Pueden practicar lo que aprendieron en la escuela!

 

 

 

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