Anyone looking to travel or move to Argentina will have to reckon with its unique version of Spanish, which, with its own vocabulary, slang, and Italian-flavored intonation, differs from what most people learned in high school.
There are plenty of resources that can help Spanish language learners get a handle on the basics of the language, among them many Spanish learning websites. Although no longer updated, the British Broadcasting Corporation hosts the excellent BBC Spanish website dedicated to Spanish learning. Similarly, the site SpanishDict has a list of conjugations for verbs, articles about grammar and interactive learning tools such as flashcards.
Language learning series, Rocket Languages Spanish program uses a process called ‘chunking’ to facilitate learning in small digestible chunks and includes games and flashcard app. Click here to get a coupon for $50 off the Rocket language Spanish course.
Offline, the best book to get a handle on Spanish verbs is 501 Spanish verbs – which provides all the conjugations for 501 verbs and now comes with an audio CD and CD-Rom. There are also apps online such as the free app Duolingo that allows you to study five minutes a day for free, with upgrades possible. After a few lessons you will find that you need accents on your phone or computer, so you will have to add a Spanish dictionary, and that is when you know you are taking a big step toward living the bilingual life.
But what if you planning to travel or move to Argentina and want to specifically study Argentine Spanish? You’re in luck. One of the best things about specifically learning Argentine Spanish is that Argentina is known for being a Latin American leader in producing high-quality entertainment including literature, movies, music and TV shows, so there is a lot to sink your teeth into on your path of learning.
Websites to Study Argentine Spanish
The website Porteño Spanish doesn’t have much content but it does feature a word of the day game, with uniquely Argentine words as diverse as milonga, which is a style of tango; ‘pete’ which refers to a sex act; and ortiba, someone with a bad attitude.
The online dictionary WordReference is very useful, because you can look up the definition of a word in Spanish, or English and the forums have a lot of information to offer about the differences of Argentinean Spanish compared to more neutral Spanish.
This forum thread discusses the slight difference in how ‘ll’ and ‘y’ are pronounced in different areas of the country and among different classes of Argentina.
Books to Learn Argentine Spanish
There are a few books out there that specifically cover Argentine Spanish such as Argentine Spanish: A Guide to Speaking Like an Argentine: The Complete Lessons.
The Spanish Street Slang series features slang from all over the Spanish speaking world. Argentina is featured heavily though, since it is probably the Spanish speaking country with the most slang incorporated into everyday speech.
When it comes to fiction, children’s books are great to learn but can get a bit boring for adults. This is where popular easy novels such as the Spanish learner series offered by Paco Ardit, aka Walter Frieberg come in handy. With titles such as, ‘Muerte in Buenos Aires’ (Death in Buenos Aires) and, ‘Tango Milonga’ these books are for those who want a little plot with their language learning.
* Click here to get a free trial of Amazon’s audible program where you can listen to many books, or watch movies in Spanish to improve your language skills. *
Learn Argentine Spanish with Youtube
Youtube is also a great free tool to learn Argentine Spanish. Those who want to dive deep into cultural reference points may want to check out the easy children’s songs of Maria Elena Walsh, one of Argentina’s most famous Irish Argentines, who every Argentine child grows up listening to.
More advanced learners may want to check out the many classic Argentine movies uploaded online such as, ‘Papa Se Volvió Loco’ (Dad Went Crazy) with Guillermo Francella, one of Argentina’s most famous actors. Francella is a physical comedian, so the movies and TV shows he appears in are great for learning Spanish. Another very popular movie of his that is online is, ‘Un Argentino en Nueva York’ (An Argentine in New York).
You can also check out popular Argentine TV shows on Youtube.
Peter Capusotto is a favorite who had a comedy show with lots of funny clips online such as ‘El Baile y La Seducción’ (Dance and Seduction) which also provides a funny, if exaggerated insight into the behavior of men in the ‘boliches’ (nightclubs) of Buenos Aires.
You can also watch live news out of Argentina on the 24-hour news channel Todos Noticas or a mix of news, lifestyle and chat shows and children’s programing on Argentina Public Television. You can check out all of the Argentine TV channels from sites such as Sintelevisor.com as well.
Those who enjoy tango and want to learn Argentine Spanish will find plenty of tango videos online, including one by Wander Argentina that has subtitles of the song, a version of ‘Tarde’ played by the tango orchestra El Afronte in San Telmo.
Learn while you Learn! Ted talks in Spanish
Ted talks are conducted in many languages and have subtitles in a variety of languages, which is a good way to learn by exposure. Beginners can watch talks in Spanish with English subtitles and, later down the learning path, using Spanish subtitles to read on screen what you hear. Ted talks can really help as a language learning tool because the content is often interesting and the speakers focus on being clear and concise in their speech.
Among the interesting Ted Talks from Argentina that will allow learners to hear the peculiarities of Argentine Spanish are, ‘Olor a Campeón‘ (titled in English: ‘How Argentina’s Blind Soccer Team Became Champions’). Another is an emotional talk by Daniel Cerezo (who previously held the interesting title of ‘Manager of Culture and Happiness’ for Buenos Aires) about his journey out of poverty called, ‘¿Qué es la Pobreza?’ (What is Poverty?).
Another interesting Ted Talk by Georgina Orellano is called, ‘Puta y Feminista: Crónica de una trabajadora sexual’ (Whore and Feminist: A Chronical of a Sex Worker).
Here’s a link to checl out all the Ted Talks in Spanish.
Finally! Learning Argentine Spanish in Buenos Aires
Once you’re in Buenos Aires, you can get on the fast track to getting a handle on Argentine Spanish mingling with the locals. The best and most affordable classes are the public school programs listed here, but there are many good private institutes as well.
To practice with others there are many language exchange activities such as those you’ll find on Meet Up. Mundolingo takes place three times a week at different venues around Buenos Aires.
The Mate Conversation Club has over 4,000 members and meets every Thursday in Buenos Aires. (If you are wondering what ‘mate’ is it’s Argentina’s most popular beverage. You can read all about the fascinating history of yerba mate → here.)
To find direct regular conversation partners on your own you can sign up on the web platform Conversation Exchange. Gals should be aware that conversation exchanges in Buenos Aires have a reputation as being popular with Argentina’s casanovas – so you may also learn the meaning of ‘chamuyo’ first hand.
Learning a language is an ongoing process that can involve humbling moments and many day-to-day victories.
There are so many great tools to learn online and in real life today that it is easier than ever, so you have no excuse.
Hopefully these suggestions will help make learning Argentina’s idiosyncratic Spanish entertaining. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be surprised with your progress at your next asado.