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”!

weekly planner for Spanish learning

Spanish-learning weekly planner!

Make a Spanish-learning weekly planner and maximize your language learning

Speaking to several language learning friends I’ve come to the conclusion that nowadays most of us are self-learners and are learning languages on our own through different means. Some of the various activities self-learners do to achieve their language learning goals are:

 

  • Purchase self-learning language books
  • Install a language learning app on their mobile
  • Download podcasts
  • Listen to music on the target language
  • Exchange conversation with native speakers
  • Follow Facebook pages with language resources

And many more…

 

But how can we make the most out of this experience? Some people end up abandoning because they don’t know how to organize their learning and make progress, instead of getting stuck in basic vocabulary and grammar.

 

These are some ideas for you to organize your week and maximize your Spanish learning in a methodical way. It’s recommended that you plan several study weeks in advance so that your can set a clear order of topics and you will later able to see your progress.

 

This is an example of someone devoting 4 hours a week for Spanish learning, you can later adapt it to your own schedule:

 

1) Grammar Day! Devote one hour a week to study Spanish grammar. Spanish grammar is complex and needs time to learn and get it right. Take at least 30 minutes to study a grammar topic, and another 30 minutes to practice it with some exercises. Here you can find some coursebooks we recommend as well as websites:

Complete Spanish Grammar (Book in digital and paperwork format with all explanations in English)

Basic Spanish  (Grammar book in a contextualized format, including vocabulary)

SpanishDict (Website with free grammar explanations and a final quiz to test your comprehension)

 

2) Reading and listening comprehension: One of the great parts of learning a language is to be able to truly understand the meaning of what you read and listen and start to feel connected to the story or article, etc. Take one hour a week to read a text in Spanish (you can alternate between reading a text or listening to a podcast or audiobook), underline all unknown words (for listening practice you can get the transcripts), look them up in the dictionary, take notes, and answer questions to check your understanding. It’s great if you can get texts or listening activities that provide both comprehension questions and the answers so you can later check. Through reading and listening you can also learn vocabulary and record them in lists for further study. Here we share two ideas!:

Spanish reading and comprehension (book that provides plenty of texts in different styles for reading comprehension practice)

Veintemundos (Online Spanish magazine with both text and audio + follow-up activities to check understanding)

 

3) Develop your writing skills: One thing you can do to work on your writing skills is to write your opinion about the texts or audios you’ve been working on during the week. Also, you can set some writing tasks for yourself, and complete them. Some examples are:

1) Write a letter to a friend telling them about your last holidays and inviting him/her to come to visit you next summer.

2) Write a film review on the last movie you’ve seen, and whether you would recommend your readers to see it.

3) Write a formal email to request information on a holiday package.

Another great idea is to have a language buddy with whom you can exchange emails or whatsapp messages in Spanish, and ask him/her for their feedback.

Once you’ve become more proficient you could have your own Spanish blog!

A book we can recommend to help you get started is this one: Spanish Sentence Builder  (A Book that helps you to write correct sentences in Spanish)

 

4) Boost your fluency: Once a week you can take a private tailored lesson with a native tutor. This hour of conversational practice will help you become more fluent; be corrected on the spot which will allow you to speak more accurately; learn first-hand views on current affairs in your tutor’s country; learn about your tutor’s lifestyle and traditions in his/her country of origin, and so on. Having a tailored class is a great way to learn what you’re interested in and what you really need. You can take the class as an opportunity to share what you’ve been learning on your own during the week and to get feedback on your self-learning.

Meet our tutors Clara from Spain and Monica and Marcela from Argentina and book a trial class for only 7USD.

 

You can download our Spanish-learning Weekly Planner from here.

Make your commute time a Spanish learning session with these 5 tips

Most of us spend on average 7-14 hours in public transportation a week. For instance, statistics show that an average of 1 hour a day is spent in public transport in most European countries. How many Spanish classes would you be able to take if you had that commute time available for class?

The good news is you can actually use that apparently wasted time and transform it into a tailored Spanish session. Want to know how?

These are the tips I have personally gathered through experience, and what I’ve learned from my own students. Check it out!

 

#1: Use downloadable podcasts in your mobile: There are many sites that offer free access to very interesting podcasts in which you can learn Spanish pronunciation and train your listening comprehension while learning new grammar and vocabulary. We recommend you start by trying one of these: Audiria (it offers great material for all levels with free worksheets and online activities to check your understanding) and Podcasts in Spanish. This last one offers all podcasts for free and only charges for the accompanying material like worksheets, etc.

Whenever possible try to download the recordings in advance into your mobile, and even the worksheets if they are available for download. This will allow you to have them despite of any internet connection problem while you commute.

 

#2: Get a Spanish learning app: You’re probably familiar with Duolingo, which is a great language learning app also available for Spanish learning. It provides tons of activities to work on your grammar, vocabulary, listening, writing, etc. It is mainly chunk-based so you’ll be learning small chunks of language, but it is good for learning and reviewing specific topics. Another one is Memrise, which is mainly focused on learning through flashcards and  it’s great for beginners and also for more advanced learners in need of reviewing and memorizing words.

 

#3: Listen to the radio: A fantastic way to be exposed to authentic Spanish is by listening to the radio in Spanish. We recommend this practice for intermediate students and above, as it might be pretty difficult for a beginner to grasp the meaning of what’s being said, especially because the radio presenters might speak fast. In this link you can find lots of Spanish radios with internet streaming, and in this one there are tons of Latin American radios: (both for listening to music and for news updates).

 

#4: Buy an audiobook: There are many audiobooks at a very low cost available on Amazon that you can buy and have them handy for any long commute. These two have great Amazon reviews and are aimed at people that spend much time in public transport or driving to work, so that commutes are no longer boring and a waste of time.

This one, “Learn in your Car. Spanish: The complete language course” is a great option for beginners to work on vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. For intermediate levels and above there are plenty of audiobooks with short stories and adapted novels, to enrich your knowledge of Hispanic literature while learning Spanish. These are some options to consider: Spanish short stories for intermediate level + and  all audiobooks from Editora Delearte, which publishes Spanish readers, like this one  El hombre muerto (Advanced C1) + Audiobook + Activities. If you’re using public transport you can complete the activities too, and if you’re driving you can get all the listening activities done and leave the other ones for later.

 

#5: Commit yourself to some writing!: Writing is the most difficult part cause it will require a bit more effort on your side. But there are plenty of ways you can get some writing practice at any free time you have. One idea is for you to get a writing buddie through one of the many apps that connect worldwide language learners, for example HelloTalk. Another idea is to write all your daily notes in Spanish. Many of us use our commute time to organize our schedule, make notes, plan activities, etc. Why not make your grocery list, daily planning and personal notes in Spanish? One more thing you can do is to start a Spanish diary. Who knows, it could even end up being a great blog! To write, you can use any note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling for now. The best thing is to get your writing done, and then when you have time you can show it to your Spanish buddie or correct it in Grammarly.

 

If your internet connection is good and you’re commuting by public transport for at least 30 minutes, you could also consider taking a real Spanish class by Skype with a native teacher. You can use this class for speaking practice, pronunciation, and also for asking questions about all the things you’ve been learning on your own during the week by making great use of your commute time!

Tango Spanish

Tango Spanish: Flirting and coffee in milonga

There are all sorts of people in milonga. While many of us come only wanting to dance tango, there are indeed some looking for romance. In this blog post we will be covering some Tango Spanish on pick-up lines (piropos), some códigos (unspoken rules) about romance in milonga, and finally the “coffee invitation”, how to offer, accept or reject one.

 

This is something good to know even if you are not looking for a relationship, so that you won’t be shocked when you are being asked!

 

Note that here we are using “vos” instead of “” and the verbs are conjugated in “vos” form. (Refer to our blog post Speak Spanish like an Argentine for usage of “vos” in Argentina)

 

Some common pick-up lines or flirting phrase in an Argentine milonga

 

 

¡Qué lindo/linda que sos!

How handsome/pretty (are you)!

 

¡Sos una diosa!

You are a Goddess!

 

¡Qué facha que tenés!

What a good look you have!

(Be careful with this expression, a lady may look cheap if she says this).

 

¡Qué linda mirada/sonrisa que tenés!

What a good look/smile you have!

(Sounds a bit corny but could work)

 

Me encandilás con esos ojos.

I am dazzled by these (your) eyes.

 

After the initial flirting one might go further and ask:

¿Tenés novio/novia?

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

 

Coffee invitation in milonga

 

In an Argentine milonga, if someone invites you for dancing multiple times (or sometimes even several tandas in a row), this is an indication that he/she has an interest beyond dancing with you.

coffee after milonga
coffee after milonga

After dancing several tandas together, one might initiate a “coffee invitation”. Going for coffee together outside the milonga is in fact a subtle invitation to a love hotel (Hotel de alojamiento/ albergue transitorio/motel/telo).

 

¿Tomamos un café?

Shall we have a coffee?

 

¿Querés tomar algo después de la milonga?

Do you want to go for a drink after milonga?

 

¿Vamos a cenar después?

-Shall we go have dinner afterwards?

 

If you fancy your partner of course you can say “¡!” (Yes!). Then you should leave separately with your partner and meet outside the milonga.

 

How about those who want to say “No”? Apart from a straightforward “No, gracias.” (No, thanks), you may want to soften your rejection by adding some excuses (excusas), such as:

 

Tengo que irme.

I got to go.

 

-Estoy apurado/a.

I am in a hurry.

 

-No me gusta el café.

I don’t like coffee.

 

No tengo hambre/apetito.

I am not hungry/don’t have appetite.

 

Some ladies would wear a ring on their ring finger even if they are single to avoid facing awkward situations.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Enjoy this blog post! Want to learn more Tango Spanish? Check out or book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”, or book a class with our Tango Spanish teachers!

Argentine Slangs you’d never guess their real meaning!

Argentine slangs are used all the time in conversations throughout Argentina. It's not only among the youth, but at any age. If you don't know their meaning, it's impossible for you to understand what an Argentine is trying to say! Many phrases are so well-known by locals, that they would always prefer the slang intead of the more formal word that you'd actually learn at school or in books. Ready to learn about the weirdest phrases and its origins? Once you learn the origin of the phrase, it becomes a bit easier to retain the meaning!

De cayetano

If a person tells you to do something "de cayetano" (in Spanish: hacer algo de cayetano) they want you to do it in silence, with a low profile. Although the word is the same as the saint (San Cayetano), this expression has nothing to do with the saint. It actually comes from the word "callar" (to silence). In Lunfardo words were sometimes changed so that if somebody else heard what they were saying they wouldn't understand. So instead of telling someone to do something quietly (hacelo callado), they would say: "hacelo de cayetano".


¡Andá a cobrarle a Magoya!

This Argentine expression literally means "Go charge Magoya!" and it is used when you want to tell someone that he/she isn't getting paid. The surnames Magoya and Montoto are always used in these phrases, meaning they are people you will never find. They are ways of referring to an inexistent person.

Perdido como turco en la neblina

This slang phrase means "to be lost as a Turk in the fog" and it is used when a person is totally lost or clueless. But the origin of the phrase is more interesting. In the times when the Moors invaded the Spanish, the Spanish would call the wine that was pure (the one that wasn't diluted with water) "Moor wine" or also "Turk wine", cause it was not "sanctified" or "baptized" like the Moors. From then on, they would refer to drunkenness as a "Turk". So if you're lost as a Turk in the fog it means you're lost as a drunk person in the middle of the fog.So if you have a friend that is acting a bit clueless or lost tell him/her: "¡Estás perdido/a como turco en la neblina!"


Versero

When you call a person "versero" you're saying he/she's a liar.
It comes from the slang verb "versear" that means to lie. It's not only used when talking about a liar, but also when a person tends to tell unbelievable stories and you feel they might be untrue!

Gauchada

The word "gauchada" comes from the word "gaucho" (and a "gaucho" is a South American cowboy, we explained this earlier in another post). A "gauchada" is a favour.
Some examples on how to use it:
- ¿Me hacés una gauchada? (Would you do me a favour?)
- Mi amigo siempre me hace la gauchada cuando lo necesito (My friend always helps me when I need him).


No caza una

When you want to say that someone doesn't understand anything at all, you can say that person "¡No caza una!". The verb "cazar" (to hunt) has other meanings as well. One is "to understand something easily".


Sos Gardel

When a person tells you that you are Gardel (¡Sos Gardel!) they are trying to say you are at the top, you are the one in the best position, you're lucky, you're the envy of everyone, etc. For example, if you have air conditioning on a very hot day, you're Gardel. (We're sure you're aware of who Gardel is, but just in case, he's the most famous Argentine tango singer of all times).


La verdad de la milanesa

When a person tells "la verdad de la milanesa" (the truth of the "milanesa"), it means this person is is telling the real deal, an irrefutable truth. "Milanesa" is one of the most typical dishes in Argentina. There has been a lof of debate on the origin of this dish (whether it comes from Vienna or Milan, or somewhere else), and so when a person has "la verdad de la milanesa" (the truth of the milanesa - referring to the fact that this person knows the true origin of the dish) it means this person is telling the truth, knows a lot about what he/she is saying, etc. Or, in other Argentine words, "la tiene clara" (knows the real deal).

Hacer gancho

This expression is used when someone is trying to play matchmaker. "Hacer gancho" is to help two people to meet and maybe start dating.
- No me hagas gancho con Juan, que no me interesa.
(Don't arrange me with Juan, as I'm not interested).

Cara rota

If a person is "cara rota" (literally "broken face") it means this person is shameless. Other words for this are "caradura" and "careta". There is a very famous tango song by Gardel called "cara rota" that describes this type of person very well, saying he tries to get things for free, take advantage of friends, etc. 

 Which one is your favourite? Comment below! Or check our blog posts below for related articles.