Naomi’s tips for learning Spanish in Buenos Aires
When I moved to Argentina nine months ago, I thought I would learn Spanish in a heartbeat and be a an absolute pro by now. Well, as we say in Dutch, ‘Ik kwam van een koude kermis thuis.’ (Literally translated as ‘I came home from a cold funfair’). Which means that things went a little different than I expected.
About the cold funfair
Before I arrived in Buenos Aires, I thought that I would hear Spanish all around me and be forced to speak it myself all the time, as I believed that not that many people speak English in Argentina. And even though I was forced to speak Spanish in daily situations like going to the supermarket, taking the bus or ordering a coffee, most people I met, and especially the friends I made, preferred to speak English to me. How am I going to learn Spanish if I only take classes but can’t really apply it to my daily life, I thought?
Foolish or funny?
I now understood my friend from the UK who has been living in Amsterdam for over 7 years, but doesn’t know how to speak any Dutch…….But I decided that wasn’t going to happen to me. So I told my Argentinian friends, my colleagues and random people in the cafe or supermarket, what I tell my own Dutch Flowently students: ‘habla Español, solo Español, tengo que practicar’. For the Netherlands that would be ‘Sorry, I don’t speak English’. And no, I didn’t understand everything they said, and yes, I made many, many mistakes. But, after a while I also noticed that I was making progress. Everything I learned in class, I was able to apply to real life. It was definitely scary at times to completely immerse myself in a new language, but I learned it is totally worth it.
I really don’t speak English at all, hey!
That first time when someone asked me in surprise ‘wait, you are not from here?’ because it took them a few minutes to realize I am actually not a native speaker. Or that time when I passed by my two neighbors on the street and understood their conversation… Those are the moments that remind me why it is so much fun to learn a new language and make me want to continue improving, so one day I will be that pro in Spanish!
By Naomi Halfhide