More Slangs to understand Argentines!

As you have probably realized from our recent posts Argentine Slangs you’ll never guess their real meaning and 6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina understanding Argentines is not an easy thing, if you consider the long list of lunfardo (slang from Argentina) words that people use everyday for conversation.

 

We have covered many so far, and in this new post we have compiled 6 more Argentine slang words or phrases for you to continue learning and becoming more familiar with the way true Argentines speak.

1. CHICANA

This word is used to refer to a trap, scheme or trick. It has nothing to do with the Mexican word “chicano”, as it comes from the French “chiqué”, which means trap.

In politics, it is used to refer to a speech that lacks content and whose goal is to attack the adversary.

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2. CANA

Although one meaning is “grey hair”, it is used to refer to the police. Nobody’s sure of the origin but it might be connected to the Italian word “incatenare” which means to imprison someone, or to the police from Verona called “canna” (referring to the color of their uniform). There’s another Italian expression called “mettere in canna” which means to put someone in prison.

Another lunfardo to refer to the police is “yuta” (sounding like “shoota”) that comes from a Spanish adaptation of the word “giusta”, which is an Italian word to refer to who applies justice.

Expressions with the word “cana”:

– ¡Ahí viene la cana! = There comes the police!
– Te van a meter en cana = They’re going to put you in jail
– Batir la cana / Mandar en cana = give away someone
– Araca la cana = Expression used to alert when the police is coming.

3. FLASHERO

This word “flashero/a” was at first used to describe people having hallucinations under the effect of drugs. Later, it started to refer to someone says something crazy, weird or that has nothing to do with what’s being said.

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas y texto

4. LA PREVIA

When friends get together, usually at a house, to share some drinks before going clubbing, it is called “la previa”. So if a group of friends have arranged to go out together they may ask: “¿Dónde hacemos la previa?” (Where are we doing the “previa”? The teens may do it to save money on liquor as buying drinks at the supermarket and sharing them in a house is cheaper than buying all the drinks at the club, or they may do it because they are still minors and they wouldn’t be allowed to buy drinks inside the club. Others just do it to share more time with their friends, as clubs in Latin America usually start very late (some people may get inside after 2am)

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, bebida y texto

5. POSTA

The expression “¿Posta?” is used to mean “Really?” when you’re surprised about something you’ve heard, and you want to confirm if that’s true. You can reply to this question by saying: “¡Posta!” which means Really! To confirm that what you’re saying is indeed true.

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, texto

6. CUALQUIERA

When you want to reject what someone’s saying because it’s stupid or doesn’t make sense, or just because you want to dismissively tell someone is wrong, you can tell them that what they’re saying is “Cualquiera” (it literally means “anyone” but in this expression it is more similar to “nonsense” or “whatever”)

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, sonriendo, texto

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post! 

Want to learn more Argentine Spanish? Book a class with a professional Argentine tutor from our school. 

 

Argentine tango

An essential element for becoming an advanced tango dancer

We all want to become an advanced tango dancer. Who doesn’t want to dance like the Argentine masters we watch in the festivals and on Youtube? Many of us would spend lots of effort and time in honing our technique and skill, but there’s one element that we often overlook which is crucial for us to become a real tanguero- Spanish.

 

Tango is a dance originated in Argentina, and with all the expressions, technical terms and lyrics in Spanish, it is impossible for anyone who doesn’t speak the language to fully understand the art.

 

In this video, Stella Missé, an Argentine tango master, will tell you why it is important to learn Spanish for tango:

 

There are at least 4 reasons for why learning Spanish is essential during your tango journey:

 

1. Jump-start your tango learning

 

 

I always remember how speaking Spanish helped in my earlier stage of tango: in the first month the teacher taught us how to do “ocho” and “lápiz“. Knowing the 2 Spanish words helped to form vivid images that sticked to my mind-“ocho” is the tracing of a “8” on the floor, and “lápiz” is drawing circles with your free leg imaging it is a pencil.

 

Later we were taught more complicated terms like enrosque and ocho cortado, and I saw that many other students had great difficulty memorizing them and they would stumble over the pronunciation even after years of dancing.

 

2. Essential for visiting Buenos Aires

 

Many devoted dancers would visit Buenos Aires-the mecca of tango, so to experience the tango culture and perfecting their skill. If you are one of them, then you should make sure you have learnt some basic Spanish before going.

 

Dancers who don’t speak Spanish often experience a lot of daily inconveniences traveling in the city: you would find everything – from directions in public transport to the menus in restaurants- are in Spanish. Most of the group tango classes would also be in Spanish. Even though some teachers may offer some English translation, it would usually be brief and not cover the whole teaching. Many times I would see  some fellow students coming to the class eager to learn, but left disappointed because they couldn’t follow the teaching.

 

3. Connecting to the mood of music

 

Many non Spanish-speaking dancers would find it easier to dance to instrumental tango because they have difficulty connecting to the emotion of a vocal tango. In fact, dancing to a song which you can’t understand the lyrics can be confusing. Some people may guess the mood of the song from the rhythm, but many times a rhythmical, seemingly lighthearted song may come with sad lyrics. So listening to the music without knowing the meaning of the lyrics may not always give the right judgement.

 

4. Crucial for interpreting of tango

 

What makes a performance by a couple of Argentine masters stands out from the others is often not only the technique, but the way how they interpret the song. In order to understand the sentiment of the song, you have to be able to understand the Spanish lyrics and sometimes the history and story behind the song.

 

This video shows Alejandra Mantinan and Aoniken Quiroga dancing to the song “Tormenta” (Storm). What makes their performance powerful and moving is that they have expressed the emotion of the song wholeheartedly through their movement and facial expression.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOfMquXfwy4

 

*“¡Aullando entre relámpagos,

(Howling between the lightnings,)

 

perdido en la tormenta

(lost in the storm)

 

de mi noche interminable,

(of my endless night,)

 

¡Dios! busco tu nombre…

(God! I seek your name …)

 

No quiero que tu rayo

(I don’t want your lightning)

 

me enceguezca entre el horror,

(blinding me in the horror,)

 

porque preciso luz para seguir…

because I need light to go on …

 

So how could we begin learning Spanish for tango?

 

One way to start is by taking Tango Spanish Skype classes  with Argentine teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires. They are experienced in teaching foreign students at all levels and would understand the special needs of tango dancers in learning the language.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Also check out the book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel tips” in which you can find a method tailored for tangueros to learn Spanish, as well as tips and useful Spanish phrases for your next tango trip!

 

*Lyrics and English translation adapted from https://letrasdetango.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/tormenta/

 

Money shopping Buenos Aires

Top 5 money and shopping tips for tangueros in Buenos Aires (2018)

Going to Buenos Aires soon and wonder where to get Argentine pesos? Want to know how to get discounts for tango shoes and clothes? And where to get cheap groceries? Read the following 5 tips about money and shopping from my recent tango trip in August, 2018!

 

1. Cash is king

 

Most travelers would bring foreign currency to exchange for pesos in Argentina. The most commonly accepted currency is USD, while some places may also take euros and pounds. If you are bringing USD, USD 100 notes would give you a better exchange rate than smaller notes.

 

Where to change your money for pesos? Changing at the airport would give you an inferior rate so we don’t recommend it. The best would be going to casa de cambio (changing house) in the city. When you arrive at your accommodation, ask your host for recommendations of changing houses near your place.

 

While it might be possible to use your bank card to cash out at ATM machines, there might be a pricey service charge so we don’t recommend this unless you are really run out of cash.

 

2. Can I use my credit cards?

 

 

A good news is that credit cards are now accepted in many shops and restaurants, even in some kiosks at the corner of the street. You would see some shops posting a notice explaining their obligation to accept credit card payment. There’s no minimum amount for payment with credit card if you see the notice, so this would be a good alternative if you are low in cash, or simply don’t want to go out carrying a large amount of cash.

 

Most shops would ask you to show documento (identity document) when you are using your credit card to prove your identity. While you can show your passport, they would also accept your ID card from your own country. They would also ask you to write down your document number while you are signing your receipt.

 

Spanish phrases you would need to know for using your credit card:

¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta?

Can I pay with credit card?

 

Su documento, por favor. (Usually by the shopkeeper)

Your document, please.

 

Firme (ud) /Firmá (vos) acá, por favor.

Sign here, please.

 

Escriba (ud) su/ Escribí (vos) tu número de documento, por favor.

Write (down) your document number, please.

 

Many shops would offer the option of cuotas (instalments) by credit cards. Unfortunately it’s limited to credit cards issued by Argentine banks.

 

3. Bargaining and discount

 

If you are shopping at street markets (e.g. The San Telmo Sunday market), or making an expensive purchase at a shop you may try to bargain for a discount.

 

When you are buying tango clothes and shoes, there is usually a difference in price between paying in cash and credit card (for example, a pair of tango shoes may cost 2500 pesos by credit card and 2100 pesos by cash).

 

Make sure to ask for the prices for credit card and cash before deciding on a purchase. Bring enough cash with you if you want the cash discount. If you are really low in cash, many owners would be willing to take a deposit for keeping your purchase, and you can pick it up later when you have enough cash.

 

Spanish phrases you would need for bargaining:

 

¿Podés hacerme un descuento, por favor?

Can you give me a discount, please?

(The literal translation of “hacerme” is “make me”)

 

¿Cúal es la diferencia en precio pagando con tarjeta y efectivo?

What is the difference in price paying by card and cash?

 

Depósito

Deposit

 

 

4. Where can I get cheap groceries?

 

Throughout the city you can find many chained supermarkets such as Disco, Carrefour and Dia. If you are new in town and speak little/no Spanish, you may feel most comfortable shopping in these supermarkets as you can find everything in one place, and you don’t need to speak much Spanish for the purchase, but it would be the most expensive option.

 

Another option that would give you a better price would be supermarkets run by Argentine Chinese. You’d easily find them on the street. They are usually well stocked and have more or less the same variety of goods of major supermarkets, and the price would be clearly displayed.

 

The Chinese shopkeepers usually speak some Spanish (and Mandarin, of course), but you don’t usually need to speak much to finish the purchase.

 

If you speak some Spanish you may venture into grocery stores on the street, where you would usually find fresher products at better prices than chained supermarkets, but you would need to know how to ask for the goods and the price.

 

Spanish phrases you would need for shopping:

 

“¿Cuánto cuesta/sale …?”

How much…

 

Darme (the product), por favor.

Give me…, please.

 

¿Algo más? (Usually from the shopkeeper)

Anything else?

 

Nada más.

Nothing more.

 

5. Where is the line?

 

Ticket dispenser Argentina
Ticket dispenser in Argentina

Sometimes when you enter a shop you would see many locals waiting for service, but there is no line. In Argentina many shops would have a ticket dispenser by the door from which you can get a ticket with a number. The shopkeeper would call out the number of people who are waiting to be served.

 

Finally, it’s best for you to do all your shopping from Monday to Saturday, as most shops would close on Sunday in Buenos Aires! You may also want to avoid peak hours when the shops are crowded, which are evenings in weekdays, when people are off from work; and midday and nights on Saturday when people shop for family gatherings and asados (barbecues) etc.

 

Traveling to Buenos Aires soon? Book a class with our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras to help you to learn more Spanish and get more insider tips for the Buenos Aires tango scene!

 

Also read our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires tips”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

communicate with locals

6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina

Want to learn how to communicate with the locals on your next trip to Argentina?

If you’ve read our previous posts about Argentine Spanish and Tango Spanish you’re definitely aware of the importance of knowing some differences between Spanish from Spain and Spanish spoken in Argentina and South America. If you haven’t, this post will surely encourage you to learn how to sound like a true Argentine and to communicate with them!

I’ve compiled some easy-to-use expressions you can use on a daily basis while you’re travelling through Argentina.

Take a look:

 

1) ¿Cómo va?

This means “how’s everything going?” and it can be used any time you meet someone you already know, or you pass by an acquaintance, for example, a classmate at your tango school, your Spanish teacher or a friend from your hostel. Other phrases you can use are: “¿Todo bien?” (All good?); ¿Cómo andás*? (How are you?)

 

2) ¿Tenés* idea ….?

This is a very common informal phrase to introduce a question. Let’s say you need to find the nearest subway station. You can ask: “¿Tenés idea dónde está la estación de la línea C?” (Do you have a clue where the C Subway Station is?). After the beginning “¿Tenés idea…” you just add your question. It will make you sound more like a local. Other ways to say this could be: “¿Sabés*….?” (Do you know…?), “¿No me decís*…?” (Would you tell me…?).

 

3) Disculpá*…

The word “disculpá” means “I’m sorry” and we usually use it in these situations: before asking a question to someone, especially when you’re asking for a favor to a stranger, or to apologize for something (for example if you accidentally crash into a stranger, or if you’re a tango dancer, when you accidentally crash into another couple or when you step on your partner!).

 

4) ¿No me das…?

We use this when we need to ask for something, for example at a store. It means “Would you give me…?” and although it starts with “no”, it isn’t negative, it’s just a common way of asking that may sound a bit more polite than saying “¿Me das…?” but both would work, so don’ t worry if you forget the “no” at the beginning. An example of this could be: “¿No me das un paquete de galletitas Oreo?” (Would you give me a packet of Oreo cookies?). If you change the verb “das” for another, you can use this same expression when asking for different things: “¿No me ayudás?” (Would you help me?), “¿No me servís una copa de vino?” (Would you serve a glass of wine to me?)

 

5) Dale

The word “dale” in Argentina is used to say “ok”. So if someone asks you something and you want to say yes, just say “dale”. Especially if you’re being offered something or being invited to do something. Other options could be: “Bueno”, “Sí”. Sometimes after saying “dale” you may add another word to emphasize you’re happy with accepting. For example: “Dale, genial”, “Dale, bárbaro”, “Dale, buenísimo” (Ok, great). It’s the equivalent of the Spanish expression “Vale”.

 

6) Ni idea

What if someone asks you something and you don’t know? You can just tell them “Ni idea” (No idea). You can also say: “No sé” (I don’t know), or “No tengo idea” (I have no idea), and you start by saying: “Disculpá, pero…” (Sorry, but…).

Example:

A – ¿Sabés dónde está Café Martínez? (Do you know where Café Martínez is?)

B – Disculpá pero ni idea… (I’m sorry but no idea)

* All words marked with * are in the “voseo” form. Don’t know what “voseo” is? Check our previous post on the subject.

 

Traveling to Buenos Aires soon? Book a class with our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras to help you to learn more Spanish and get more insider tips for the Buenos Aires tango scene!

 

Also read our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires tips”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Stay safe in Buenos Aires

Top 7 tips for tangueros to stay safe in Buenos Aires

 

One thing that often holds tangueros back from visiting Buenos Aires is the safety concern. Indeed, many people would hear stories of theft and someone losing their phone or wallet during their tango trips. However, many of these unfortunate events are avoidable by being watchful all the time and being in the knows. In this blog post we have compiled 7 tips for you to stay safe, plus some essential Spanish phrases that you would need.

 

1. Choose a safe neighborhood for your accommodation

First rule of thumb to ensure your safety is to choose a good neighborhood for your tango house/hotel/apartment. In general you should avoid San Telmo and La Boca areas. Many first-time tango tourists would choose to stay in Palermo area which is a middle-class and relatively safe area and close to 2 famous milongas: Salón Canning and La Viruta.  

 

2. Take a taxi when you are going/leaving a milonga late at night

Always take a taxi and avoid walking on quiet streets at night. You may call a uber or radio taxi before leaving your home. When you are leaving the milonga, go to a main avenue to get one, or you may ask the organizer to help you to call one.

 

“¿Pódes llamarme un taxi, por favor?”

Would you call a taxi for me, please?

 

5 tips for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires safely.

 

3. Put your tango shoes in your own bag

Many tango shoes would come with a shoe bag with the brand name, and some people may carry them on their shoulders after leaving a tango shoe shop or on the way to a milonga/class. Don’t do this when you are in Buenos Aires, as you would be seen as a rich tango tourist and would easily become a target for criminals. Putting your shoes inside your own bag would also help you not to leave it behind in places like cafes.

 

4. Take only the money that you need for the day

Before you go out each day, make an estimation of the money that you’d need to spend (e.g. for the tango class, milonga, taxi, etc.) and take just a bit more of that amount of money for covering your expenses, so that if you unfortunately lose it you’d still have the big part at home.

 

5. Be alert when using your cell phone on the street

Recently there have been incidents of people getting their cell phones robbed when using them on the street. When you are using your phone you are also less alert to the surroundings and become an easy target for criminals. To avoid this situation you should minimize the use of your phone on the street as much as possible. If you need to check your phone, do it near a cafe or a shop. You can also reduce the need of checking directions on your phone by copying the information onto a sheet of paper before going out.

 

6. Beware of pickpockets

Apart from the cell phone your wallet is a sure target for thieves! Always keep your wallet close to you. Some people use a secret wallet which can be hidden underneath clothes. Some locals do without a wallet and put the money in the pocket of their clothes. When you are in a milonga, it’s best to put your bag under the table or chair when you go out to dance. During your mealtime in a restaurant, keep your bag close to you and do not hang it on the chair. If  you are in a crowded place, carry your backpack at the front instead of at the back.

 

7. Buy a good travel insurance

Before getting on your flight to Buenos Aires, make sure you are covered by a travel insurance! If your valuables are being stolen or robbed, report to a police office (Comisaría) within 24 hours and get a report. Report to your insurance agency as soon as possible once you have returned to your home country or online.

 

Some spanish phrases you might need:

 

Me han robado mi cartera/móvil.

My wallet/cell phone is being stolen.

 

Me robaron.

I have been robbed.

 

Quiero hacer un denuncia.

I would like to make a (crime) report.

 

Necesito un informe de policía para reclamar el seguro.

I need a police report for claiming insurance.

 

Traveling to Buenos Aires soon? Book a class with our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras to help you to learn more Spanish and get more insider tips for the Buenos Aires tango scene!

 

Also read our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires tips”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

milonga

Survival Spanish for milonga

Zabara Alexander from Moscow, RussiaNew Year in El Corte

 

Going to a milonga for the first time in Buenos Aires? There are a lot of códigos (hidden rules) in a milonga porteña that you’d need to know before the visit. We have compiled the following tips and essential phrases that you would need for a successful first milonga. Also watch our Youtube video to learn the pronunciation of the essential Spanish phrases!

 

survial Spanish for milonga

 

On Hoy Milonga website you can find a listing of milongas and practicas in Buenos Aires, with the information of addresses and hours. You can also check if there’s a class before the milonga. For some milongas their entrance fees would include  the class fee, so you may want to take advantage of it to learn some tango steps as well as to meet some new friends. There’s also a Hoy Milonga App for download on smartphones.

 

For some popular milongas (such as Cachirulo) it would be a good idea to make a reservation beforehand, so that you can be guaranteed a better seat. Sometimes milongas can get crowded, if you drop-in without a reservation, you may risk being offered a seat at the back or corner, and it  will be hard for you to perform cabeceo (the use of eye contact for dance invitation).

 

Reservation, ticketing and seating

 

To make a reservation you’d need to call the organizer and say:

Me gustaría hacer una reserva para una persona o dos personas.

I would like to make a reservation for 1 person or 2 people.

 

Then you will need to tell them your name and also surname:

 

Me llamo Ana (y mi apellido es Peréz)

My name is Ana, (and my surname is Peréz).

 

At the venue you’d need to purchase your ticket from the reception. You can say to the receptionist:

 

Quiero una entrada/ dos entradas, por favor.

I would like to have 1/ 2 tickets, please.

 

To ask for the price, say:

¿Cuánto cuesta la entrada?

How much is the ticket?

 

You may want to keep the ticket as sometimes in the middle of a milonga there would be a lucky draw (sorteo).

 

After you have purchased your ticket, you’d need to wait for the host to sit you. Do not just go and grab your seat! When the host comes to you, you may greet him/her by giving a kiss on his/her right cheek. Then he/she will lead you to your seat.

 

If you don’t like the seat being offered, you may request politely for a change:

¿Puedo tomar otra silla/mesa?

Can I take another seat/table?

 

In traditional milongas there would be separate seatings for men, women and couples. People who sit at the couple area would (usually) dance with their partner only.

 

In the milonga

 

In Buenos Aires people would usually change their shoes in the washroom. If you are new to the milonga and want to know where the washroom is, you may ask:

 

¿Dónde puedo cambiarme?

Where can I change my clothes?

 

Or

 

¿Dónde está el baño?

Where is the washroom?

 

In milonga in Buenos Aires, people use cabeceo, the eye contact, to invite people for dance. At the beginning of a tanda, a man would fix the gaze on the lady he wants to invite. If the lady is interested she would maintain eye contact with the man. The man may slightly tilt his head or nod as a gesture of invitation. The lady would nod her head for confirmation. Then the man can walk over to the lady’s seat and escort her to the dance floor. If the lady is not interested, she may simply look away.

 

Sometimes if the light is too dim it would be hard to perform cabeceo, then you may invite a lady by saying:

 

¿Bailás?: You dance?

 

But still one should use cabeceo as much as possible, as it is a custom to avoid embarrassment of both parties if one doesn’t want to dance with the other.

 

If you have accepted the invitation you should dance with your partner for the whole tanda (a set of 4 tangos/3 vals/3 milongas).

 

After you have finished the tanda with your partner, remember to thanks your partner by saying:

 

Gracias: Thank you

or

Un placer :A pleasure

 

But be careful not to say “gracias” too early! If you say “gracias” in the middle of the tanda, your partner would take that as you don’t want to finish the tanda with him/her.

 

After the tanda the man should escort the lady back to her seat.

 

Be aware of the last tanda! The last tanda, especially the song “La cumparsita” is reserved for lovers and couples. If you accept an invitation from a local, you may be sending him a wrong signal that you would want to go for a “coffee” with him after the milonga.

Tango Spanish: Flirting and coffee in milonga

 

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Going to Buenos Aires soon and need advice for planning your trip? Check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”! Also book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers, who are tangueras living in Buenos Aires, to learn more Spanish and insider tips!

taking a taxi in buenos aires

5 Tips for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires Safely!

One of the things we all worry about when arriving to a foreign country, and especially when we don’t speak the local language, is how to move around the city without being an easy prey for scammers. Today we’re focusing on moving around by taxi. When getting to Buenos Aires, you’ll see taxis everywhere. We recommend you read this post first, and learn some tips on how to take taxis safely and to beware of possible threats.

 

  1. Radio taxi companies

There are some taxi companies and drivers that are not the official ones, but look like them and might offer to take you from the bus station to the hotel or so. When trying to take a taxi, always look for the ones that say “Radio Taxi” on the side doors or on the top. Preferrably, try to call a taxi instead of taking them in the streets, so that you can make sure you’re taking a real one

2. Check the price beforehand

Before you take a taxi, for example when leaving a milonga, check with someone you know (your teacher, a friend, etc.) how much they think a trip like the one you’re taking may cost. This way, if when arriving to destination you see that the driver wants to charge much more than that, you can realize if you’re being scammed. What to do in this situation? Never argue with a taxi driver. You may tell him that you don’t have enough, and offer what you have (a similar amount to what your friend suggested) or if you feel threatened, you may ask the driver to wait for you to get some more money inside. If you’re staying at a hotel, you may ask the receptionist or a hotel employee to help you handle the situation.

3. Try to have change on you to avoid giving 200 or 500 notes.

When we are abroad, many times we get confused by the different currency. As you won’t be familiar with Argentine peso notes, try to keep your wallet organized and try to get change of 20, 50 and 100 notes. If possible, try to avoid 200 and 500 notes when taking a taxi. Why? Taxi drivers many times complain of not having change, and this is a way for them not to give your change back (or not to give it all back).

4. Check your change before descending.

Many times, as we want to get off the taxi, we just accept the change given and get out. Be careful, many times they may give the change quickly, and may be giving a lower value note without you realizing. If you can’t see properly as the light is sometimes dim, ask the driver to turn on the light (Say: ¿Puede prender la luz, por favor? = Can you turn on the light, please?). This way you can check your money before getting out of the taxi.

It’s very important for you to remember that $5 an $500 notes are very similar (they are both green). There are many stories of people that got confused, and gave a $500 note instead of a $5. There might be honest people that will let you know, but others may take advantage.

5. Be confident

If you show the driver you’re not sure of where you’re going and you hesitate on the destination or how to get there, they will take advantage of that and tour around the city before taking you to your place. A good idea is to ask a friend the names of the streets you will be crossing, or the way to go to your destination, so that you can tell the driver, for example, “Agarre Avenida 9 de julio” (Take 9 de Julio Avenue) and show them you know where you’re going.

If you’re still hesitant about taking taxis in Buenos Aires, remember Uber is available, and you may feel more familiar with their system. But it’s important to know how to take a taxi, especially as you might not always have internet access to call Uber.

 

Check out our video on how to take a taxi in Buenos Aires, and practice how to say the most useful expressions:

 

If you want to know more, book a a class with one of our Argentine tutors.
Tango Class

Tango Spanish: Survival Spanish for tango class

If you are going to Buenos Aires, you would find most tango classes are in Spanish, so some basic knowledge of Spanish would be essential for your learning.

 

In this blog post we will be focusing on asking questions in the class. However, you may wonder what if after asking the question, you can’t understand the Spanish explanation from the teachers?

 

The good news is that tango is a corporal activity, and  very often steps and techniques can be explained in body language and movement. But if you can’t ask the right question, the teachers wouldn’t know about your doubt and help you to work on it. So asking the right question is important for your learning, and it’ll help you to make the most out of the class instead of taking the questions with you back home.

 

Don’t know how to say the questions in Spanish? Don’t worry! We have a Youtube video to help you with the pronunciation.

video

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for Tango Class

 

To begin there are a few essential words you’d need to learn:

El paso (The step)

La secuencia (The sequence)

Marcar (To lead)

La técnica (The technique)

 

How to ask essential questions in Spanish in a tango class:

 

In the class we may be unclear about how to do a step or sequence, so we can ask:

 

¿Cómo se hace este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to do this step/this sequence?)

 

For example:  “¿Cómo se hace un boleo?

(How to do a boleo?)

 

For the leader they may want to know more about the leading, so they can ask the question:

¿Cómo se marca este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to lead this step/sequence?)

 

For example: ¿Cómo se marca un sandwich?

(How to lead a sandwich?)

 

Usually when the teachers teach a new step or sequence they would demonstrate, but if you didn’t get it and want to see it again, you can ask:

 

¿Podés mostrarme el paso/la secuencia, por favor?

(Would you show me the step/sequence, please?)

 

Sometimes we may take a private class so to receive more personalized suggestions on improving our technique, and you may ask the teacher:

¿Cómo puedo mejorar mi técnica/el paso/la secuencia?”

(How can I improve on my technique/the step/the sequence?)

 

If you get lost in a class or don’t understand the teaching, you can say:

No entiendo.”

(I don’t understand)

 

You may also ask the teacher to repeat the explanation by saying:

“¿Podés repetir, por favor?”

(Would you please repeat?)

 

Are you going to Buenos Aires soon? Book a Spanish class with our Argentine Spanish teachers to prepare for your tango trip! Our teachers are tangueras from Buenos Aires and will understand your Spanish need for tango.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Also check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips” which contains many useful advices on going milongas, accommodation and transportation, staying safe and saving money!

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for milonga

 

vocabulary

How to make Spanish vocabulary lists that actually work

Since we were kids, teachers have always instructed us to make vocabulary lists for better remembering words being learned. However, many students claim to find them useless or not to know the best way to record that many words.

In this post we’ve gathered some of the best tips that will help you collect Spanish words in a practical and useful way, for you to better remember and review them.

These lists are durable as you can continue adding more and more words after every lesson or when self-studying, to enrich your vocabulary.

 

1) Prepare your categories of words in advance:

Have you ever made a list after a class, to later realize you don’t know how to classify or record those words for later study as they’re only related to that lesson? When recording words, think of them as words you’re planning to recall and use later in time. One good way to do this is to have special categories of vocabulary set prior to any study. Then you can keep adding new categories and subcategories if needed!

Think of inclusive categories (go from the more general words to the more specific ones).

Example:

Category: Relationships

Subcategories:

1) Family –> Family members

2) Friendship –> Types of friends

3) Love –> Types of love relationships

4) Conflict –> Words for people you don’t like

5) Work –> Names of people at work, names for people you do business with

6) Expressions for conversation –> Expressing feelings / Expressing agreement/disagreement / Expressing interest

7) Adjectives to describe people

8) Idiomatic expressions related to relationships

9) Etc

 

In Spanish, it would look like this:

Categoría: Relaciones humanas

Subcategorías:

1) Familia –> Miembros de la familia

2) Amistad –> Tipos de amigos

3) Amor –> Tipos de relaciones amorosas

4) Conflicto –> Palabras para personas que no te gustan

5) Trabajo –> Nombres de personas en el trabajo / Nombres de personas con las que haces negocios

6) Expresiones para relacionarse con personas –> Expresar sentimientos / Expresar acuerdo/desacuerdo / Expresar interés

7) Adjetivos para describir personas

8) Expresiones idiomáticas relacionadas a relaciones humanas.

9) Etc

 

2) Organize your lists carefully!

If you’re more into handwriting, buy a nice folder that allows you to add pages in between sections. This way you won’t worry about not having left enough room for a category. You keep adding pages while you complete your lists. It’s recommended to use separators for better accessing each category. If you prefer to store things in your laptop or online, a good way is to create an online document you can access from your mobile so you can record words at anytime, like a Google Drive document.

 

3) What not to miss when adding a new word:

Every time you add a new word, think about what would be the most helpful way to understand and recall its meaning. For example, if the word is “abuela” (grandmother) you can write this simple definition: “la madre de mi madre/padre” (the mother of my mother/father). Then add a sample sentence. “Mi abuela cumple 80 años mañana”. This example sentence could also be related to your own life, for example if your grandma is called Margarita you can say “La abuela Margarita es muy simpática” (Grandma Margarita is very nice), to make it more meaningful to you. Also, if the pronunciation of the word is difficult for you, you might want to write the the way it sounds in your own language. Something like “a-boo-ella”. Ideally, if your vocabulary list is saved in your laptop or online, you could link the word to the pronunciation of it, for instance, at wordreference.org  

You could also add a picture of the word, if you’re visual and it helps you. And last but not least, don’t forget what part of speech the words is; in this case it’s a noun (or “sustantivo” in Spanish). Knowing the part of speech the word is will help you to use it accurately in a sentence later.

 

4) What to avoid:

If you follow the tips in #3 you can now realize why there’s no need to write the translation of the word. Translation is an obstacle (generally speaking) to your thinking in Spanish. You should leave this for those cases in which the word is abstract,  complex or in cases when you can’ find a way to explain it in Spanish, or you don’t have enough vocabulary to write a definition of the word in Spanish to help you later remember the meaning. For example, the word “brújula” (compass). To explain what it is might take lots of words and you may not know how to define it. Probably a translation is more practical in this case (But remember, finding a picture is even better!)

Another thing to avoid is to fill in the list with tons of words you already know. When you get to review it, it won’t be meaningful to you. Try saving the lists for new words you may have trouble remembering.

 

Ok, so, what do we do after writing down our new vocabulary lists? You might be thinking what the most suitable way to practice them might be. There are plenty of ways to review vocabulary. These are some you may like (and remember, I’m trying to provide tips that are actually easy to put into practice!):

 

1) Make flashcards.

I’m actually starting with the most difficult!

If you have written your lists manually, it might take more time to prepare them but if you have at least 15 minutes a week to do so, you can prepare 1 set of flashcards for a specific subcategory. For example, buy some nice, colored cardboard and write down the words for the subcategory “friendship”. One one side of the card you should write the word, and on the back you should include an example sentence or a picture. Save them in an envelope and put them inside your Vocabulary List folder for future practice.

If, on the other hand, you’ve written them in your computer, you can just print the words on the cardboard, and cut them out.

 

How to practice with flashcards? Take one, practice its pronunciation, try to remember its meaning and think of a sentence that includes the word. Then turn over the card and check if you were right.

After you have covered several subcategories among the same category of words, you can also work on classification. Put all the flashcards from different subcategories on top of a table, mingle them and then try to classify them by putting each word in the right envelope. When you’re not sure, turn over the card, check the example sentence or picture and decide which envelope it belongs to.

 

2) Play vocabulary games online:

 

There are several websites that provide interesting and fun games to practice your vocabulary. These are some of them:

1) Quizlet is a platform where you can create your own flashcards, but also, you can practice with the flashcards already created by others.

2) Red de Letras provides a free online Scrabble platform to play the game while practicing (and probably learning!) new words. You can check the word in a built-in dictionary the game provides.

3) Caja de Palabras is the boggle game. It’s very easy to use. You just need to type the words you can find and press enter. The program will tell you if the word is valid or not.

4) Memrise is a website that provides many game-like activities to help you practice and memorize words.

 

3) Use sticky notes:

Every time you find a new word that seems difficult to remember, write it down on a sticky note and stick it somewhere you’re definitely going to be. For example, on the side of your laptop screen. This way, every time you sit at your laptop, you can check this word. If possible, don’t write an isolated word (e.g. encourage) , but a chunk of words (e.g. encourage someone to do sth) or a sample sentence (e.g. I encouraged my friend to take his exam).

 

EXTRA TIP:

You can also classify the words in two columns: Words you’ll probably use / Words you’re uncertain you’ll use. This way, you can have the most useful lists handy, but still record the uncommon ones to enrich your vocabulary.

Milonga

Tango Spanish: 5 Things you should never say in a milonga

Photo credit: (Flickr) Gobierno de la ciudad de Buenos Aires.

When we’re going to a milonga we all want to get along and have a good time, but in a Buenos Aires milonga there are certain things you should avoid saying at all cost. Some of these are related to milonga etiquette; others are some Spanish words which carry a double meaning-usually with sexual connotation. You may at best make yourself look funny, or at worse offensing a fellow tanguero/a unintentionally!

 

1.Commenting on your partner’s techniques in a milonga

 

 

Milonga is a place for people to dance socially for pleasure, but not a place for giving or receiving feedback on techniques. Try to restrain your urge on making a negative comment or giving feedback on your partner’s dance technique, or you may ruin one’s night. Save the feedback for class/practica time!

 

There’s a saying that in Buenos Aires, if a woman wants to prevent a man from inviting her to dance again, the most effective way is to teach him while dancing with him in a milonga.

 

If you feel uncomfortable dancing with your partner because of problems in techniques (e.g. a painful embrace, twisting your wrist, etc.), you may say “Gracias” which signals to him/her that you want to end the dance and leave the dance floor.

 

However, it is OK to express your appreciation if you enjoy dancing with your partner. You may say:

 

Baliás lindo/linda (You dance beautifully).

 

Una linda tanda (It’s a beautiful tanda).

 

Un placer (A pleasure).

 

Bailás muy bien (You dance very well)

 

2.Concha

 

Imagine the follow scenario: you have just come back from a holiday, and you have picked up a beautiful seashell on the beach. You want to give it to a milonguero as a gift, so you say to him: “Tengo una concha para vos.” (I have a seashell for you). I bet he would probably be shocked.

You may wonder why “concha” (seashell), a seemingly innocent word, should never be said inside (and outside) a milonga ? The reason is that “concha” carries the double meaning of “pussy” in Latin America.

The most appropriate to say it to your friend so he’d get the right idea is “Tengo un caracole de mar para vos.”

There was an old tango song composed in 1884 called “concha sucia” (dirty cunt) by the violinista Casimiro Alcorta. The lyrics was about a prostitute called Enriqueta, who was teased for being dirty and unpresentable. Juan Andrés Caruso later rewrote the lyrics and created a “clean version” : “Cara sucia” (Dirty face). Francisco Canaro recorded the song and become the version you would hear in milonga nowadays.

 

Listen to “Cara sucia” by Francisco Canaro and Roberto Maida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywGi1r8Po2U

 

3. Montar

This time you have just come back from another vacation in the countryside, and people ask what did you like most about the trip. You may want to say:

“Lo que me encantó fue montar a caballo” (What I loved the most was to ride the horse.)

Be aware of this expression as “montar” on one hand means “to ride”, but it also carries the meaning of “to mate”, for example:

El toro montó a la vaca. (The bull mounted the cow.)

So sometimes people with dirty mind may associate this to a sexual act…

 

4.  Acabar

In many Buenos Aires milongas it is common to have a tango class beforehand. Your friend may ask you: “¿Tomaste la clase antes de la milonga?” (Did you take the class before milonga?). And you may want to answer “Sí, no iba a ir pero acabé tomándola” (Yes, I wasn’t going but I ended up taking it).

Watch out for this expression! “Acabar” means “To complete, to finish”. However, it is also used as a slang for “having an orgasm” (el orgasmo). So for a dirty mind you would sound like having an orgasm while taking the class!

The better way to answer would be “Sí, la terminé.” (Yes, I completed it).

 

5. Coger

 

Taxi

 

At the end of the milonga other milongueros might asked how you are travelling back home, and if you answer “Voy a coger un taxi.” (I’m taking a taxi), they may look at you in a funny way.

 

Coger” in European Spanish means “take”. If you are saying “Cojo un taxi” in Spain it’s perfectly fine, and people will get what you mean in the correct way. But in Latin America “coger” is the slang word for “having sex”.

 

So the next time you are in Buenos Aires,  remember to use “tomar” instead of “coger”. Say “¡Voy a tomar un taxi”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Want to learn more Spanish to prepare for your next trip to Buenos Aires? Book a Tango Spanish Skype class with our Argentine Spanish teachers, and check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”!