Learning the Language: Spanish in Argentina- Carly T.

After spending a summer in Costa Rica, Carly decided she wanted to study abroad for a semester in another Latin American country where she could take classes for her language studies major and experience a different type of culture. Carly ended up going a non-traditional route by choosing the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina! She studied abroad for about four months during the spring semester of her senior year. Here’s what she said about the Spanish language in Argentina:

There were a few challenges I met when learning the language. It’s a well-known fact that Spanish is spoken differently depending on the country (accent, word choice, and so on). It’s easily comparable to the different varieties of English we hear used throughout the world. However, Argentina is a special circumstance.

Spanish in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, is NOT actually called “español” but rather “castellano”. There are some people who call it “español”, but be prepared to hear it referred to as “castellano”.

The second thing to point out is their pronunciation of the double L’s (like in castellano). The double L is pronounced “sh” instead of “y” like we were taught in school. This can take some time to get accustomed to but soon you’ll adapt and then you’ll be adjusting your accent to sound like them!


Another challenge is the fact that in Argentina, they use “voseo” instead of “tu”. I was never taught this form of conjugation until I arrived and it really took some getting used to. I still don’t know if I can confidently say I have mastered the “voseo” conjugation but I can recognize it. It is used quite frequently and it’s a great idea to grasp the concept before heading down there.

Something else that I never learned and was difficult to catch onto was their use of slang. Yes, each country, region, even city, has their own slang but chances are you’ve heard a couple phrases from Mexico, Puerto Rico, or even Spain. However, not many slang words from Argentina have made their way into North America.


One other aspect that I caught onto was the way political events and phrases worked their way into their vocabulary or even changed words. For example, “niño” means child in Spanish, but in Argentina, they use “nene”. When someone says “niño” or “hijo” they are referring to “los niños/hijos”, the generation of children that don’t have parents. This is a very important political reference but a topic that will be saved for another time.

Finally, they exaggerate and intonate their speech much like Italians do. Argentina (especially Buenos Aires) has a heavy Italian influence and their speech is much like the sing-song rhythm used in Italy.


The one thing I would recommend is if you choose to go to Argentina, keep an open mind about learning the language and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I studied Spanish for 6 years and when I arrived I felt like the language they were speaking wasn’t even Spanish. I was there for 4 months and had a great time. One of the best experiences was taking my Spanish language class. The program I went with gave you the option of taking classes at the university without having to take a language course. However, I strongly recommend taking a language course, even if you feel you are fluent. One of the reasons I recommend this is to help transition with one of the challenges I listed previously. The professors understand you are there to learn the language and don’t mind when you ask questions about pronunciation, accent, word choice, etc.


The second reason I recommend these courses is because this will be your one chance to be surrounded by speakers who are at the same level as you in terms of language knowledge. It provides an environment where you can practice and learn from one another. This also gives the perk of making friends and having new people to travel with!

Argentina is an exciting place, but it most certainly was not what I expected. I studied in Costa Rica for a summer term and thought there might be some similarities. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth! Go with an open mind and the intent to learn something new.

Chau! Saludos y benediciones!

p.s. “chau” is pronounced the same as the Italian farewell “ciao” and is used all the time.

Carly studied abroad through an affiliate company, ISA, from the beginning of March to the end of June at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There are other options of host universities in Argentina through our affiliates, ISA, CEA, and ISEP, so be sure to consider all your options to find your perfect program. We are now accepting applications for any spring 2017 study abroad program so with over 360 host universities to choose from, book an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor today to see which ones are best for you!

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