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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finally Starting Spanish Lessons

After being here a little over a month, I took the plunge on Monday and went down to IBL to register for Spanish classes. I made the mistake of walking in and speaking in English when I arrived -- a habit I developed at my office. If I know someone speaks English I just start talking to them in English and not in Spanish.

Well, they pegged me as a beginner and handed me a placement test. Thirty minutes later I had finished the test and turned it in. It was the "level 1" test and so I scored a perfect score. Seeing that, they gave me the test for level 2. This time I had 2 or 3 errors. They apologized again and brought in the test for level 3. This time I managed to get only about 50-60% of the answers right -- putting me level 3 territory.

After they started going over my incorrect answers on the level 3 test, the teacher stopped herself and said, "Wait a minute, you are taking a level 3 test, we should be talking in Spanish." Well, the moral of this story is -- when you go in to a language school, try to speak as much of the language as you know -- otherwise you'll be spending an hour and a half taking language tests.

After being here a month, I've been amazed at just how little Spanish I've actually been forced to use -- much less than the average tourist or immigrant. Here in Argentina they have English-language TV, an English newspaper, and English menus in restaurants. In addition to that, I work with English-speaking coworkers who are focused all day on selling services to English-speaking customers. It just so happens that all my friends here speak English as well. When I go see a movie this weekend, that'll be in English too.

So, here come the Spanish lessons. It looks like I'm going to need to make a concerted effort to actually learn Spanish while I'm here. It's not just going to arrive in my brain through osmosis. Darn, and I thought it was going to be so easy!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hola... i invite you to try an online immersion you may enjoy. this will really help build your skills. go to and try the "free demo" section.

I am enjoying your site. I will be arriving in buenos aires next week... and staying until august 18...


6/29/2005 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

El Expatriado,

I know exactly how you feel. I planned on taking Spanish classes for a good year or so. I only had time to take lessons about 3 months when my business exploded and I had to put studying Spanish on the backburner. It sounds kind of funny but I too have little opportunity to speak Spanish.

ALL my employees speak English, all my clients speak English, my lawyer speaks English, my real estate lawyer speaks English, my accountant speaks English, my realtor speaks English. The only way I am studying is that I only date girls that do NOT speak English. I've learned a lot that way. I'm totally conversational but I hope to be fluent. Hopefully I'll have time to study.

The way to get fluent is to either date someone that doesn't speak English or force your friends to talk to you in Spanish. Still, there is an unwritten rule around the world. People seem to speak in the langauge that is quickest for everyone to understand.

Good luck.

7/02/2005 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Just thought I would add my two cents worth... I've only been in BA for a couple of months but I speak more than enough to get by (still get caught with the "vos" thing and the zha ("ll" and "y") accent gets me every time... but overall pretty good for not speaking one word before I came down other than taking one of those "corny" online downloadable courses (which wasn't sooo bad after all evidently, you can find it if someone wants to learn something before they come down or even if they're here already, it really helped me)... Thanks for your site, I really love it! I've learned so much about this country!

Take care!

3/14/2007 11:45:00 AM  

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