Language in Buenos Aires
Photograph by Greg Roden.
As a foreigner or extranjero, if you don't speak Spanish (called castellano and pronounced cass-te-Sha-no), you are not alone! Visitors can get by with few problems and it is possible to make your way around with nothing but a polite smile, a little help from savvy English-speaking locals, basic hand gestures, and friendly cognates.
Speaking even just a few words in Spanish is extremely helpful. Although English is spoken widely throughout the city; many hotels and restaurants offer menus in English and learning Spanish is part of the fun and challenge of visiting Latin America. Here you will find our tips for learning, studying, conversing, teaching, chatting, and surviving this great city with or without the gift of gab.
For visitors starting from scratch or that feel they need a solid grammatical and vocabulary basis in their learning of Spanish, a larger institute is probably the way to go. Most institutes offer a range of services and schedules, from private lessons and tutoring to small group classes and also vary greatly in price.
For those that have one foot in the Spanish speaking world and the other in the world of "I haven't spoken Spanish since the 8th grade!" private tutoring is a great option. Tutoring gives the benefit of conversation-heavy classes and is an excellent way to snag a porteño that will make you practice while allowing one-on-one learning.
The Universidad de Buenos Aires offers Español para Extranjeros (Spanish for foreigners) courses year-round. The University's Laboratorio de Idiomas (languages campus) is centrally located near Plaza de Mayo and there are several perks to taking Spanish here including availability of course levels, price, and intensive or regular course structure.
There are plenty of ways to obtain teaching certification here in Buenos Aires and it is relatively inexpensive compared with similar programs in the US. Once you are qualified, this is a great way to meet locals and get a hands-on working experience in Argentina.
Interested in obtaining your TEFL/TESL (Teaching English as a Foreign/ Second Language) certificate? Searching for private options will turn up a dizzying number of results so we have compiled a short list of institutes in Buenos Aires to help get you started. Courses are typically four weeks long, full-time (8 hours per day), and most institutes offering certification can assist with housing.
Here you will find our insights into the unique Argentine version of Spanish known as castellano rioplatense. Subtle pronunciation differences as well as the voseo or vos remind visitors of the still heavy Italian influence in the city. We have also included an introduction to the local slang known as lunfardo.