Speaking Spanish in Argentina
Argentina is an excellent tourism destination. Buenos Aires, the capital city, is a bustling metropolis with excellent museums, beautiful parks, fine food, and great shopping, and the interior of the country has beautiful natural resources that extend nearly all the way to Antarctica.
Many travelers visit Argentina hoping to improve their Spanish skills and choose to take Spanish lessons in Buenos Aires. Although this is certainly one of the best ways to learn a new language, other methods to improve you Spanish skills include conversing with locals, watching Spanish language television or movies, and reading local newspapers or books written in Spanish.
It’s not hard to converse with Spanish speakers in Buenos Aires: you can attend pre-arranged language exchanges, which typically occur at bars or restaurants and often include a drink; find a partner online; or simply meet friendly locals out around the city. Even if you’re struggling with the language, new friends will likely be patient with you and will be impressed that you’re making a strong effort to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires.
If you are attempting to meet and befriend strangers in Buenos Aires, however, there are a few subjects that Argentines are somewhat sensitive about that you may want to avoid. If you are from the United States, you may need to be cautious when new friends ask you about your country of origin. Avoid calling yourself “American” many Argentines consider all people residing in North and South America to be “American” and some find it offensive when visitors from the States do not make the distinction that they are from North America. When asked about your nationality, you can instead tell people you are “norteamericano/a” or “estadounidense.”
If you’re British, you’ll likely want to avoid talking about the Falkland Islands or, as the Argentines call them, the Islas Malvinas. Argentina waged a bitter attempt to reclaim this territory from the British, and although it was technically unsuccessful, Argentines feel that the islands are rightfully theirs. In fact, all maps printed in Argentina call the islands the Islas Malvinas. While this doesn’t usually produce unnecessary animosity between Brits and Argentines, any visitors should probably steer clear of the subject of the Malvinas. If you don’t know a new friend’s feelings on the subject, avoid the topic.
Finally, a subject that is relevant to Argentine history but not often discussed in daily conversation is the Dirty War. Although evidence of the effects of the war are still present in Buenos Aires with the Thursday demonstrations by the Madres de Los Desaparecidos around the Plaza de Mayo and much of the graffiti displayed around the city, this painful epoch in Argentine history is still very controversial and uncomfortable. Unless you’re with a very close friend, you probably don’t want to discuss this subject unless an Argentine brings it up.