Miércoles, 02 Febrero 2011 09:25

The trials of learning Spanish in Buenos Aires

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After working for five years in London, I decided to come to Buenos Aires to experience a new culture and to help use what I had learnt from my job for a local organisation. I am currently working for Voluntario Global in their PR and Marketing team. Argentina has always appealed to me as a country to go to due to the extreme diversity of the culture and country. The one problem I have though is that I am not in any way fluent at Spanish. My Spanish is more the level of polite tourist, so that you can ask for things in Spanish such as directions, ordering food in a restaurant or buying food in a supermarket. None of these particularly useful for my placement! I felt that in order to make the most out of my time here it was important to at least attempt to learn the language.

Voluntario Global is affiliated with a few Spanish schools in Buenos Aires, and helped me enrol in one very close to my accommodation. Prior to enrolling you have to take an exam so that they can determine what class to put you in.

Each week is specifically dedicated to a certain tense or aspect of grammar such as learning the Gerund or Subjuntivo.

The first day of lessons was a bit daunting as I have not had to sit in a classroom for nearly 7 years! However, the teachers were very kind and welcoming, although right from the start everything has to be said in Spanish. We were in classes ranging from 2 to 7 and had 2 hours of grammar each day, which is then followed by 2 hours specifically dedicated to speaking and listening Spanish.

In the oral part of the lesson they try and make the context interesting and relevant by choosing subjects such as Argentinean culture to talk about. This was great as you were able to learn more about the country through discussing it, as well as picking up tips from the teacher. My passion is cinema, and the teacher told me lots of cool tips and things to do in the city relating to film. Often we would go off on a tangent and talk about other things though for the duration of the lesson.  You are put in classes with people from all around the world, so it is interesting to hear about different aspects of their culture. One girl I was in class with was from Brazil, and we had a very interesting discussion about the Favelas in Rio de Janerio and what the Government is trying to do to stop drug and arms crime there. At the end of my time at the school I received a certificate indicating what level I had achieved. Although I am still far from fluent, I feel that the lesson helped me gain confidence in formulating more complex sentences in Spanish. It was also a great way to meet people who are also staying Buenos Aires for a while.

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