It’s no secret that to really get better at learning a new language you have to, well, speak it. It’s very easy to forget what you’ve learned if you don’t use it and I’m guilty of this myself.
Ever since I left Guatemala over 6 months ago I haven’t really been practicing my Spanish much and now that I’m here in Buenos Aires, my last stop in Latin America, I feel like I knew more Spanish when I was Guatemala than I do now. From time to time I did get to practice with locals while on the road, but often times they were quick/small conversations and usually the same topics.
While reading some articles online about Buenos Aires, I found out about this event called Spanglish Exchange. It’s a similar except to speed dating, but people are there to practice their English or Spanish (though no one’s stopping you to treat it like speed dating). You get paired up with a native Spanish speaker and you talk in English for 5 minutes, then 5 minutes in Spanish (or the other way around, depends on what you agree to start with first). You then switch tables after that to practice with other people. If there are more speakers of one language than the other, then at some tables there will be 3 people.
The event lasts 2 hours and scheduled at night: 8pm-10pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9pm-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. They set it up in bars/restaurants in the Palermo and Recoleta districts. The first 30 minutes is reserved for check-ins, loosening up by having a drink or two, and just chatting with other attendees. There’s a 15 minute break in between. You can decide to stay after the event if you like and continue the conversations, and many people do stay later.
You can pretty much talk about anything you want. Usually, though, conversations start with the same introductions such as “where are you from?”, “what are you doing here?”, “how long are you going to be here?”, etc. So it could get repetitive at times, but more interesting topics usually come up once the basic introductions are out of the way.
I’ve attended 3 events so far and I’ve really enjoyed them. It’s a good way to learn more about the city, the country, and its people. You can talk about travel, politics, professions, music, sports, celebrities, or even how to pick up Argentine women. By the way, if you don’t already know, Argentine women are considered to be among the most beautiful women in the world. An Argentine guy at the event actually mentioned this to me and I told him there’s a lot of beautiful women in New York City as well. He replied with something like, “Yes, but in New York only about 10% of the women are beautiful, here in Buenos Aires it’s about 50%.” I still have to observe this in NYC, but I have to say he’s right about Buenos Aires (Cordoba is another city in Argentina with lots of beautiful women, btw).
I’d probably go a few more times at the event to practice my Spanish. I’ve been in Argentina for about 3 and a half weeks now and I’m still not used to the accent and slang, so I could really use the practice. It’s definitely worth checking out if you visit the city and would like to meet people and practice. The fee is ARS 40 and includes pizza and sometimes a drink depending on the location.