This article is part of our section “inglés in company” which provides help for Argentine professionals working in English. Click here to know more abour our offers or workshops (Next workshops : Tuesdays 17 y 24 of April, “inglés en el entorno laboral”)
Do you feel comfortable speaking English in a relaxed atmosphere, or casual work conversation? That’s great! But don’t get confused… That doesn’t mean you are ready for a job interview in ENGLISH! Today we will talk precisely about these differences to help you land your next English-speaking job!
In the third quarter of 2017, Argentina had a 15,4% rate of employed looking for work (u.e. the percentage between the employeed population looking for a job and the economically active population), of which 12,1% are located in the Greater Buenos Area. Looking for a job in Buenos Aires is not something so uncommon. Let’s assume you are looking for a job yourself : you might have to train for a job interview in English as the number of jobs for English speaking professionals is growing in Buenos Aires.
We can assume it was an easy job to do your resume or CV in English (if you need some tips, here are good links of Infoempleo or The Entrepreneur – links in Spanish). You now know the vocabulary you used in your resume. You may feel ready to do the interview in English.
Why is it a mistaken thought many people have?
Why is English for interviews different?
There is a big difference between speaking English in a relaxed atmosphere, or casual work conversation – and speaking English while being at a job interview. Avoid making the mistake of thinking you are ready for a job interview because you are good at speaking English in informal settings.
- Because the skills you will have to demonstrate, and thus the vocabulary, are not the same
- Because the way to introduce things, concepts, ideas, are different in English than in Spanish.
- Because you will need the confidence and attitude you would have in Spanish in English
Let’s break down these three ideas to see which area you should dig into to prepare yourself successfully:
1.The skills you will have to demonstrate – and thus the vocabulary- are not the same.
The HR and person conducting the interview will generally start by asking questions about yourself. The question “Tell me about yourself” can be a bit tricky because it’s easy to get lost into details “I went to school here, and I worked here for 2 years and there for 3 years”. Skip what’s not essential and try to talk in terms of skills learned. An example would be:
I went to school there – where I developed a strong capacity to teamwork. I further enhanced that skill while working at (name of the company). I was regularly working on projects involving international teams. However, in my second job, I developed other skills such as (name the skills). Today, I believe my profile is a mix of (name 3 essential skills/knowledge you have).
You might also be asked to conduct reflexion upon yourself with questions such as “What weakness can you convert into a strength?”. Think thoroughly of your weaknesses and strengths and how one can be turned into the other. For example, you might be inflexible sometimes -weakness- but that makes you an organized person capable of leading a group -strenght-. A very good reference on this topic of weakness-strenght conversion is this infographic.
Another question might be a reflection on your future : “Where do you see yourself in five years”. To answer that question, take the time to reflect on what you want to improve and for what work purpose. Don’t think it in terms of position but in terms of skills. It might be developing your management skills to be able to manage a team in the next years. Show your interlocutor that you want to learn and improve! The sky is the limit!
Finally, another type of question you might deal with is reflecting about you vs others. You might face questions such as “ What can you do better in this position that others can’t” or “How did you deal with past conflict situations with your bosses/colleagues”. Always think over it in term of positive outcomes and without criticizing others.
2. Because the way to introduce things, concepts, ideas, are different in English than in Spanish
In this paragraph, we wanted to emphasize what you have to do, absolutely have to do, in an interview in English. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do it in Spanish, but you might have to do it MORE in English 😉
First, stating that you’ve developed a skill without giving a supporting example will not make your point. For example; if you’ve learnt team management, you can give an example of a situation in which you had to take the lead. How did you do it and how did it result? A good way to make sure that you explain your thought through and in a relevant manner is to use the STAR method. The idea is to support your idea (“I learnt team management”) with an example structured in the way “Situation, Task, Action, Result”. An article that explains it thoroughly is this one (link in Spanish).
Secondly, try to use connectors and introduction words. Linking phrases together is nicer to hear and follow. For example, you could say : “I have 2 years of experience working in your sector. Furthermore/ On top of that, I believe I have the skills and attitude necessary to fit into the role and contribute to the thrive of the activity”. It give strength to your speech!
Finally, the salary topic. It might be sensitive and you might not want to talk about it during your first (or second interview). You can read on Glassdoor what people comment about the average salary. It will give you an idea of what to answer if the question comes up.
3. Because you will need the confidence and attitude you would have in Spanish in English
Well, for this one, it all comes down to one thing : practice, practice, practice.
We want to emphasize on this one, especially because group interviews get more and more common nowadays. What does it mean? That you’ll need the confidence to know you’ll be able to speak English in front of people – and maybe not just a HR.
What can you do at home to train ?
Wy is it worth it for you to train ?
No need to panic. It just takes practice.
How can we advise you to train beyond preparing your answers (following the advices we suggested above 😉 ) ?
Practice, practice, practice
In front of the mirror. With an English-speaking friend. If you want to practice with a native and you don’t have an English-speaking native friend, Conversation Exchange platforms are for you. This article lists some good ones!
However, to be honest, it will always be better to train face-to-face with a native. In lvstudio, that’s what we do in many different formats! Come for conversation class, take an individual class focusing on interview training or join one of our workshops!
Listen to podcasts
Below, we suggest some podcasts related to job interviews or the workplace in general:
Any other suggestions? Let us know!
Record yourself with a camera while doing the interview. Watch it and notice your weak spots, where you have difficulties and why. Watch out your body language, which is as important as the spoken language. Here is a good article about it (link in Spanish). Try to correct your vocabulary/sentences when they seem too complicated and confusing. Make them shorter, clearer – and don’t forget to smile!
4. Do personality tests
Do some personality tests to know more about your work behavior. These tests will give you hints about your weaknesses and strengths at work, your way to deal with pressure and workload, how you communicate with others or your relationship to hierarchy. Of course, a free test on internet is never 100% accurate but it might give you some ideas, which you can develop with examples. By personalizing the analysis of your answers, you will get useful ideas to answer interviewers’ questions about yourself. Here are links to some well-known tests: DISC test or the MBTI test.
5. Do a worskhop
At lvstudio incompany, we propose some workshops for people looking for a job or employees looking for training in English. The ideas we proposed above will never be better than a face-to-face and personalized guidance! Our workshops leaders are native teachers with teaching and working experience, who will help you to be comfortable during the interview and to show the most out of your strenghts in English.
Want more info on our workshops? Click here!
OUR NEXT WORKSHOPS
- Duración: 2 días, 4 horas en total
- Dirección: Palermo
Workshop 1: Inglés en el entorno laboral
Días: Martes 17/04( 19.00hs-21.00hs), Martes 24/04: (19hs-21.00hs)
Precio: $700 (hasta el 01/04)
Workshop 2: Inglés para la búsqueda de trabajo
Días:Martes 08/05( 19.00hs-21.00hs), Martes 15/05: (19hs-21.00hs)
Precio: $600 (hasta el 22/04)
MORE INFO HERE! or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks a lot for taking the time to read! Do you have any other suggestions on how to train for an English-speaking interview? Let us know!
YANQUI DE MIERDA GO HOME! VOLVETE AL PAIS DE LOS OBESOS MORBIDOS.
That was the all caps lock love letter I received a few years ago after mentioning I wasn’t fond of Argentine pizza. Note to self: if you fuck with Argies and their pizza, they take it personally and may threaten your life.
Sorry Porteños, you will probably hate me and discredit anything I have to say since I know many of you think you have the best piksa in the world, but it’s much more common to find bad pizza in this city. I’m talking about all those Pizzerias los Hijos de Puta, serving an abundant layer of cheap plastic quesothat never seems to properly melt, flimsy can’t-get-it-up cardboard crust, Olympic pools of oil, dried oregano-sprinkled canned tomato “sauce” CONSERVATIVELY spread atop, and a skimpy selection of stupid toppings (yeah… I’m looking at YOU palmitos, salsa golf, huevo duro and ham rubber.)
Fortunately, my hatred for the local corte has calmed, I’m able to accept Argentine style pizza in all its cheesy glory, and will honor a good pizza when merit is due. So, after lots of strenuous research, eating, crying, and lactose intolerant-induced stomach aches, I came up with a totally biased guide to my best pizza in Buenos Aires.
(And of course don’t miss my PIZZA CONMIGO episode on UN3TV)
SIAMO NEL FORNO – Costa Rica 5886, Palermo Hollywood
The pizzeria lowdown: I’d be a happier person if I ate Siamo Nel Forno at least once a week. This is true Neapolitan style pizza, with the certification to prove it. The space is homey, rustic, informal and the star of the room is the wood fire oven that blisters and scorches the beautiful pie a la vista.
All about the pizza: Super light fluffy dough, cooked for less than two minutes in the XXXhotXXX oven, and topped with fresh ingredients and great tomato sauce. I always order the Margherita – it’s a joy to eat and really never fails me. Ask for the spicy chili oil, and order with beer or wine depending what strikes your boozy liver.
ALBAMONTE – Av. Corrientes 6735, Chacarita
The pizzeria lowdown: It’s Chacarita’s bodegón pride and joy. Sometimes we all need that go-to family joint for good old fashioned Argentine comfort food. The menu is quite traditional – pastas, gramajo, tortillas, parrilla, milanesas, etc., and while most of the diners order the pizza as an appetizer before moving on to a main dish, I’m a strong proponent of making it the star of the show.
All about the pizza: Super thin crust, smothered in tomato sauce (ask for extra), and not drowning in prison cheese. Hot fatty tip: if you live in the barrio, pick up the pizza to go, bring it home, stick it under the broiler, and in a few minutes you have the provoleta-like cheese topping crust of perfection.
GÜERRIN – Av. Corrientes 1368, Centro
The pizzeria lowdown: The most popular pizzeria in the heart of Corrientes theater mania, Güerrin is arguably the city’s most beloved pizzeria. It even has a Wikipedia page. Pizza Fact: The wood fire oven at hasn’t turned off since 1932.
All about the pizza: I have a hate-love relationship with this pizza al molde. It’s definitely an Argentine style thick slice, but it’s where to go to get a dose of total porteña-ness: NAPOLITANA, eaten while standing and washed down with moscato.
LA MAS QUERIDA – Echeverría 1618, Belgrano
The pizzeria lowdown: Pizza on the grill should replace thick crust as the national pizza dish. I have such mad love for pizza a la parrilla, and even more love for my beloved La Más Querida. The small spot feels like a little restaurant hideaway in some beach town. Buby Van Asperen, a self proclaimed ex-hippie and master at sporting a Hawaiian shirt, opened La Más Querida in 2005 to bring a quality pizza a la parrilla with fun toppings.
All about the pizza: Super thin crust, piled with great toppings: artichokes, gruyere cheese, mushrooms, onions, brie, pesto, roasted vegetables and más. It even comes with spicy dipping sauces on the side.
LA MEZZETTA – Av. Álvarez Thomas 1321, Chacarita / Villa Ortuzar
The pizzeria lowdown: Something about this dirty hole in the wall that brings both disgust and joy to my heart at the same time. It’s a classic standing room only space filled with an eclectic crew of all ages and incomes. I once saw a pizzero cleaning up trash with his bare hands before rolling empanada dough, but that only gives the masa more flavor.
All about the pizza: F-U-G-A-Z-Z-E-T-A! Argentina has the Cataratas del Iguazú, and Chacarita has the Cataratas de La Mezzetta, THE place to go for a greasy cheesy hangover fugazzeta cure. I channel my yearning for brunching on diner food and instead go for the second best: a dangerous slice of cheesyonion glooping fugazzeta.
MONZÚ PIZZERIA BAR – José Antonio Cabrera 3975, PalermoThe pizzeria lowdown: The Venezuelan owned pizzeria known for stuffed crust and creative topping combos is pretty much the best thing that happened to the other side of Scalabrini Ortiz.
All about the pizza: Dreams of papa aioli or albondigas and albahaca, Monzú has you covered. Hot tip: sometimes you may be surprised with chorizo inside the crust.
PIZZERIA FERREIRO – Angel Gallardo, Av. 1001, Caballito.
The pizzeria lowdown: A total barrio dive that’s been around for what seems like forever. It’s probably the best pizzeria in the ‘hood with a classic bodegón vibe. Ferreiro does delivery, but it’s much more recommendable to scarf pizza + beers in house.
All about the pizza: Pizza a la Piedra, yo! On GuíaOleo, some trusty reviewers said it was malo because: “La pizza a la piedra es una tapa de pan arabe tostado, de las peores pizzas que comí” “casi no se ve de tan finita que es. Para lo que cobran, debería ser mucho mas suculenta. Nunca vi una pizza tan fina. No vuelvo.” Thin crust pizza, you say?! I’m in! And it’s a good crust, solid cheese and has that perfect crispy bite that still doesn’t fall apart. (Photo La Mejor Pizzeria)
1893 Pizzeria – Scalabrini Ortiz 701, Villa CrespoThe pizzeria lowdown: A pioneer in the pizza a la parrilla world in Buenos Aires, Danilo Ferraz opened 1893 in 1994, and named it after the year his casona on Scalabrini Ortiz y Loyola was built. 1893 is the older sister of the popular pizzeria mini-chain Morelia, although you’ll almost always find Danilo behind the grill at this Villa Crespo corner.
All about the pizza: It’s a rectangular or half moon ultra thin cracker crust, topped with tomato sauce and cheese, and then grilled quickly on the parrilla. 1893 also plays with fancy toppings: smoked meats, pickled vegetables, and even has a Roner to sous vide ingredients. (Photo by 1893)
Honorable Mention: El Cuartito for history factor, Palacio de la Pizza because it’s the pizza palace, La Guitarrita for the Nuñez folk, Pin Pun because it’s a few blocks from my house, Angelín for its lots of sauce and no cheese pizza canchera and La Locanda for whenever pizza is on the menu.
And the next pizzerias on my list to visit: PARTENOPE in La Lucila and JESOLO in La Plata.
Wanna get schooled in everything and nothing you wanted to know about all the Argie styles of pizza? Head to The Latin Kitchen for the goods.
Learn English reading these articles
As I was strolling through the streets of Palermo one day, I saw a billboard advert which made me stop and stare. This rarely happens but the difference today was that the advert in question was promoting one of Brazils’ finest musical exports, Sepultura, whose heyday in the late 80s to 90s saw them churning out thrash/death Metal. Now, Sep may not be quite so well known in Argentina but in Brazil they’re very famous. I’ve been listening to them for 16 years and for one reason or another have never been able to see them play in London, my home city. The second I saw the advert, I knew I had to go. What’s more, is that it’s their 30th year anniversary. It seems that one of the first bands that got me into metal, who happen to be south American, are also going to be the first I see live in Buenos Aires and that’s a pretty special thing. After discovering this concert’s existence, I inadvertently began to discover other musical events which were happening in the city. In the space of about a month, there will have been five or so metal concerts. Some big (Sepultura, System of a Down) and some much more underground (Arkona). I had read that south America’s metal scene was pretty strong but it’s even more encouraging when you’re there and able to see the evidence for yourself!
Photo Source: factoryworkermedia.com
Practicá Inglés con nuestros articulos de blog
That’s just my imagination, but I encourage you to daydream with me. Cue the Tango. In Argentina, it is mid-summer. Today’s forecast for Buenos Aires is mostly sunny with a high temperature of 82 degrees. Sounds nice, eh?
Our friend Tim is a fully deputized Washington Beer Blog Correspondent. Tim is currently on assignment in Argentina. I am guessing that his adventures don’t match my imagination. Tim is on vacation and is generously reporting to us about what kind of beer he finds as he bounces around the country between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. In a country where wine reigns supreme, Tim has managed to find some craft beer – cerveza artesenal, as the locals call it.
“I knew about Buller Brewing and sought them out,” says Tim via email. “I went to one of their pubs – the one right across the street from the Recoleta Cemetery, where Evita is buried.”
If there is a craft beer revolution happening in Argentina, and that is a big if, Buller Brewing started it. In operation for more than a decade, Buller Brewing operates two gastropubs in Buenos Aires: one near the famous cemetery and the other downtown. They are slick, urban establishments that morph into lively night clubs after dark. According to our reporter, Buller Brewing is not exactly like your cute, little neighborhood pub. After all, Buenos Aires makes Seattle look like a sleepy little one-horse town.
The beer lineup at Buller Brewing includes Light Lager, Blonde Ale, Honey Ale, IPA and Stout. Tim reports that the beers are serviceable but nothing like he is used to drinking at home (Seattle). That is, he’s not complaining. “Honey Ale is a big deal here in Argentina. It’s basically a blond ale with a sweet taste. Also, the IPAs here taste like malt and not hops.”
One more beer stop in Buenos Aires: Cerveza Atresenal Antares. Located in the Palermo neighborhood, this is one of several Antares locations in Argentina (at least a dozen). Again, this place is urbane, big and swanky. Unless something was lost in translation, the company’s main brewery is in Mar del Plata, where it produces beer for both domestic and export markets. Each location in Argentina has its own brewery, which comes complete with the individual brewer’s creative flair. Antares is not exactly small, but it is crafty and produces a full compliment of beer styles ranging from Kolsch to Stout. Yes, and a honey beer.
But it is not all about the big city. And my imagination runs wild again.
A dirty little kid with a big smile is totally unaware that I’m watching as he uses a stick to push a tireless bicycle wheel down the dusty street. Across the way, a group of more dirty kids chase a half-flat soccer ball and a cloud of dust around a vacant lot. I walk into a place that looks like it might be a bar. Everyone stares. I struggle to remember the words, knowing that a few precious phrases are essential for my survival. “Disculpe, señor, necesito una cerveza, por favor.” The beer is barely cold, it is closer to tepid, and the glass is dirty. Everything is perfect. “Muchas gracias.”
Ah, I can dream.
Tim tells us about the next stop. “The next brewery, we just happened to stumble upon,” Tim explains. “We found Cerveza Artesanal Pirca along the roadside in an area called Colonia Suiza as we approached the city of Mendoza. It’s on the other side of the county, up against the foothills of the Andes. Pirca has a rustic beer garden and taproom.”
The beer selection at Cerveza Artesanal Pirca was simple: a Rubio, a Rojo, and a Negro (blond, red, and black). Again, Tim describes the beers as adequate, but given how far away from home he is, they are welcomed and refreshing.
We’ve turned Tim loose now. Maybe we will hear more from him. We hope not. Just go have fun, Tim. Leave us to our daydreaming.
Photos by Tim West
I am a “professional” dancer because I teach tango and get paid for exhibitions. But I wouldn’t be a pro here in Buenos Aires if it weren’t for my partner. He is the draw. He is the Argentine who spent most of his life in the milongas, who lives and breathes and sings the tango. We work very well together, but if it weren’t for me, he could also work well with someone else who has the same tango point of view. Foreign dancers especially love getting to know a milonguero and hearing his stories and dance secrets that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do, particularly if they don’t speak Castellano.
Ruben wasn’t always a professional dancer; he used to work in television until the crisis of 2001. He was passionate about his job, traveled all over Argentina working, and danced tango every night for the love of it. Now tango is his job. He earns his livelihood from tango. It’s now more than pleasure; it’s work–which he enjoys. He teaches, does taxi dancing, and gives historical Tango Tours of Buenos Aires. Sometimes this puts him in a difficult situation with friends at the milongas we go to for enjoyment and socializing. (We also go to milongas for work when we do milonga accompaniment.)
Foreign women friends expect that Ruben will dance with them. Sometimes he does. But if not, sometimes they outright ask him to dance, which puts him in a bad place as it does with all milongueros. For one thing, milongueros don’t like to be invited, nor do they want to refuse a lady, and for another, if he danced with all the women who wanted him to, what about me? What about our social evening together? We are at Los Consagrados or Chiqué to enjoy ourselves.
He will always dance one tanda with current students. It’s part of their education and he likes to check their progress. And he will bend over backward to make sure our friends get their drink orders, are comfortable, and help them have a great time at the milonga. But there are friends who expect dances with Ruben at the same time they are telling me they are taking classes at DNI, or El Beso, or expensive privates with Maximiliano Superstar. They ask me to “tell” Ruben to dance with them! Ruben owns his own dance. (I do not give him orders.) Read more here. They expect him to give it away for free. They forget that the tango is what he has to sell.
Do these same people ask for free consultations from doctors and lawyers at social gatherings back home? Ruben is a low-profile real milonguero, not a stage dancer who tours the world giving classes and making a big name for himself. He’s in Buenos Aires every week of the year dancing in the milongas, as he’s done for the past 30 years. All the women want to dance with him and all of the men want to dance like him. But he is a professional. Friendly, affable, funny, and fun as well. And available for classes and milonga accompaniment. I wish the women would remember that at the milongas.
Article by Claire McKeever.
When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I have to say that my go to drink was a glass of Malbec. However, on closer inspection, I’ve been so impressed by the selection of artisan/craft beer on offer, and the inviting pubs it’s served in, that a well brewed pint has often been just as appealing (especially a honey based one).
Even after Oktoberfest has ended, you don’t need an excuse to share a few beers and enjoy some of Buenos Aires’ best locally brewed craft beer:
A new kid on the block, Otra Vuelta keeps it simple with a selection of two artisan beers on tap and a fridge full of honey, light, dark and even smoked based brews (local and international). It may be light on pint choices but its ski-lodge esque interior, friendly staff, excellent happy hour and complimentary snacks (a very important part of the craft beer experience) keeps me coming back for more.
- Gurrachaga 1324, Palermo.
- Happy Hour 18:00-21:30.
- Opening hours: 18:00 – 14:00.
A popular chain of artisan beer pubs, Antares has spread its wings for very good reason. With a wide selection on tap, happy hour and locations across the city (as well as across Argentina), it’s often a good choice if you’re wanting a decent beer and lively atmosphere. There have been times I’ve visited when doors have closed due to limited capacity (especially during happy hour) so make sure you make it in good time to get your order in.
- Las Canitas, Palermo (Armenia 1477) & San Telmo (Bolivar 491).
- See website for happy hour & opening hours (it differs for each location) & for other locations across Argentina (including Bariloche, Mendoza & Cordoba).
If you find yourself in Recoleta and in need of something exciting to quench your thirst after all that sightseeing then I would recommend this place. Its beer garden, very cool ¼ pint tastings and the fact it is all made in-house makes it a real treat. Rest assured you can also order a ‘proper’ pint if that’s what you’re after. There’s also a base in ‘microcentro’ but unless you want to nestle a pint amidst lots of office workers then you’re best to stick to the Recoleta version.
- Presidente Roberto M. Ortiz 1827, Recoleta / Paraguay 428, Microcentro (city centre).
- Happy Hour 6-8pm.
- Weekdays open from 12:00 / Saturday from 21:00.
This place is pretty magical. I must admit it is lacking when it comes to offering as wide a selection as other artisan beer locations across the city (at least when I’ve visited as half the menu hasn’t been available) but the fact you’re sat in the middle of trees and fairy lights makes it quite special. It’s definitely worth a visit and again, you’ll find another great happy hour if you’re wanting to grab a bargain.
- Malabia 1401, Palermo.
- Opening hours 18:00 until …
It’s no surprise that an Irish inspired pub makes it on my list. What I love about Breoghan’s is not only the selection of own-brewed beers but also the authentic surroundings; its bricked walls, wine barrels used as tables and old school seating making you feel like you’re in a ‘real’ pub. Happy hour is more unofficial and signalled with a bell so hopefully you’ll not miss on that.
- Bolivar 860, San Telmo.
- Opening hours: 18:00 until …
Don’t let the title fool you, one of the most stunning eamples of nineteenth century architecture in Buenos Aires houses one of its most quirky and unusual museums. El Palacio de Aguas Corrientes is gigantic and unmistakeable. Covered in hundreds of thousands of imported ceramic tiles and occupying an entire city block, its flamboyant style is in stark contrast to its humble orginal purpose as a water pumping station.
The yellow fever outbreaks that plagued BA in the mid-nineteenth century necessitated the building of a modern water delivery system. For this reason, the city of Buenos Aires employed Swedish-Argentine architect Carlos Nyströmer to design a building to house the tanks and plumbing necessary to carry almost 2 million gallons of water.
The heart of the building contains what appears to be a cathedral to plumbing. Enormous tanks suspended three stories above are fed by pipes big enough for a fair-sized walrus to swim through comfortably. It is an industrial pumping station with the dimensions and and style of an Viennese opera house. It is to public sanitation what Michelangelo’s David is to sculpture. Oh, and it also houses what can be safely described as the most comprehensive museum to toilets that you are likely ever to see. If you enjoy unusual museums or neo-renaissance sanitation conduit, this is the museum for you.
Riobamba 750 – 1st floor/ Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-1pm/ Tel: (54-11) 6319-1104
Photo Source : exploradorturistico.blogspot.com.ar
Let’s be honest, it’s obvious. To drastically improve your quality of life while living in Buenos Aires, you need to learn the local castellano. Why? Read on for just a few of the reasons.
Author: Emily, American, BA Expat since 2008
Dealing with the logistics of BA life
Whether you need help with public transportation, getting directions, talking to your building’s super or doorman, renting an apartment, dealing with the immigration office, or dealing with local businesses or services (internet, telephone, etc.)…it’s a fact that being able to speak well, and understand well, is absolutely essential.
If you ask around, almost all expats in Buenos Aires will agree that speaking fluent Spanish is necessary for most jobs, unless you work online, teach English, or have your own business. Speaking Spanish will definitely open professional doors during your time in Buenos Aires.
Furthering your education
UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires) is an excellent public university, with many affordable postgraduate programs open to foreigners. Also, these programs are generally in the evening, so you can keep your day job while you’re in school. However, I have yet to hear of a single program that is in any language other than Spanish!
Learning new things
Buenos Aires has a world of opportunity when it comes to learning new things: art classes, dances classes, business conferences, educational seminars, bartending courses, political protests, clubs, organizations, events, workshops and more. However, the large majority of these opportunities are in Spanish, so if you want to take advantage, you’ll need to learn the language. Last year I started attending a Filetado course, and I’m planning to sign up for a wine course and singing lessons this year, all opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t speak Spanish.
Enjoying local culture
Buenos Aires has a wonderful theater district, with a variety of plays and productions to enjoy, and even great stand-up comedy. Argentina also has a well-known and vibrant film industry. However, if you want to enjoy BA’s local film and theater productions, you need to be fluent in the local language! Obviously there won’t be any English subtitles at the movie theater…
Understanding the Argentine personality
There are many things about Argentines that can be learned from their language. Their strong Italian roots, for example, are reflected in the sheer volume of Italian words they use and their many body gestures. You begin to understand the dichotomy of their interest / lack of interest in politics by listening to them debating with each other, and their somewhat ironic sense of humor also explains a lot about who they are.
Integrating and making local friends
There are definitely Argentines that speak English, so I’m not saying that not speaking Spanish means you can’t make local friends, but it will isolate you from integrating into a social group or family. Keeping up with the conversation, understanding jokes, showing your personality and sharing your opinions are all fundamental parts of integrating into any social group, so doing so here would certainly improve your quality of life.
The space is very private (there is no sign out front, you have to sign up to get the address) with an almost VIP feeling, the room is very large and elegant with many nicely set tables, elegant furnishings, posh bathrooms, and a large wraparound terrace. This is priciest wine tasting on my list, but if you don’t mind spending the money it is definitely worth it.
At the tasting we tried 5 wines (1 sparkling wine, 1 white, 1 rosé, and 2 reds) of generous pours and I was offered refills on 2 glasses. Plus, each wine had its own food pairing, starting with canapés (topped with spreads, herbs, nuts and fruits) for the sparkling wine; then mini sorbet cups (mango and strawberry) for the white wine; then a “picada” (platter) that included salami, several very nice cheeses, pickled eggplant, bread, crackers and a couple of spreads served with the rosé wine; followed by a traditional beef empanada to accompany the first red wine (Bonarda) and then delicious dark chocolate truffles to accompany the Malbec. You probably won’t find such an elaborate, elegant and well-planned out wine and food pairing option in Buenos Aires (where each food pairing has been carefully selected to complement the flavor of the wine) which is probably one of the reasons it’s more expensive. Also, the sommelier was a native English speaker (from England) with a degree in wine and lots of charisma. She taught us a lot about wine, and I even learned the history of Malbec wine and where it comes from (hint: France) for the first time after years of living in Argentina and going to wine tastings. Something unique about Anuva is that the sommelier works for Anuva wines, not for a specific bodega, so they select wines from several different bodegas for the tasting.
They do tastings every afternoon/early evening except for Sundays, and have lots of space and seating (they told me that in high season they could have up to 50 people or more at a tasting!) so booking won’t be a problem as long as you reserve in advance, and you will definitely have your own seat and place setting.
LO DE JOAQUIN
A beautiful and quite large bodega that sells quality wines from all over Argentina, with a stylish interior and wine tastings every night. The tasting room has a high c-shaped glass table with stools around it that is right by a large window that faces the street (so everyone walking by can check you out during the tasting; meaning its not very private).
I’ve been to Lo de Joaquin a few times, and while the price is very reasonable, I’ve found that the tastings are hit or miss. But when they are good, they are very good and you definitely get your money’s worth (the wine tastings are a great deal here). Unlike Anuva Wines, Lo de Joaquin has a sommelier come from a specific bodega and do a tasting of wines from that bodega. For example, one time the sommelier, a french girl who was bilingual in English and Spanish and extremely knowledgeable about the bodega she worked for and wine in general, actually taught us a lot about wine and how to properly taste it. We were there for about 2 hours with her, and she was generous with the wine (we had a couple of refills on the 4 wines we tried). Another time, however, the sommelier didn’t speak any English, didn’t make any effort to speak clearly or slow down so that the foreigners could understand or so that the staff could translate, and she seemed like she was in a rush to get out of there (the tasting lasted about 30 minutes). Plus, we only tasted 3 wines, one small pour each, and they weren’t very good. But I have to admit that the staff made an effort to compensate for the disappointing tasting by bringing out a couple bottles from the bodega (including a nice reserve) for us to drink after the sommelier had left.
After the tastings the staff at Lo de Joaquin always bring out a modest meat and cheese “picada” (a few kinds of cheeses and salami) accompanied with crackers and bread and they let you hang around a bit (and encourage you to buy a bottle to drink there if you do so).
They do tastings most nights of the week and the table seats about 20 so booking isn’t a problem, just make sure you reserve in advance.
This is a very local wine tasting, so I’m not sure if it would be possible to go to a tasting in English; I haven’t heard of that option and the times I’ve gone it has always been in Spanish, the customers were argentines and foreigners (us) that live in Buenos Aires and speak Spanish well. But if you can speak Spanish this is definitely the most affordable tasting on this list (plus they let you use half as credit towards a bottle of wine from the tasting), and the food they offer is quite good, pours are quite generous (and you are usually offered a refill on every pour, sometimes more than one) and the sommeliers are knowledgeable (like with Lo de Joaquin they come from different bodegas around Argentina; meaning you’ll be trying wines from one specific bodega, and although my experiences have been good, it could be hit or miss because of this). The food they offer is usually potato wedges with guacamole, as well as a meat and cheese “picada” with an elegant bread and cracker basket.
The bodega is small (just one room) but has high ceilings so it doesn’t feel cramped. However, they just have one large table in the center with about 6 chairs and another small table near by with a few chairs, so it is likely that you will be standing for the tasting if there are a lot of people. Tastings are usually once a week (Thursdays or Fridays) and you have to book in advance.
It’s Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires and you have a great idea for a relaxing dinner at home. You just need to pick up a few things from the store. My norteamericano naivete says that all I need to do is head down to the supermarket and get what I need. It’s never that easy. Most people don’t buy their fresh fruits and vegetables at the supermarket in BA, they do it at the verdulería or frutería. Meat, likewise, comes from the carnecería, seafood from the pescadería, bread from the panadería etc. Your quick trip to the supermarket just turned into a five store shopping excursion. For my yanqui sensibilities, accustomed to one-stop shopping and big box superstores, this is problematic.
Compounding the problem is the fact that at least half of these stores will be closed on Sunday and, if they are open, the store owners have a rather lackadaisical adherence to store hours (which are not posted, anyway). So many of my meal plans have been cancelled due to the lack of some basic foodstuff that cannot be obtained at any price on Sunday afternoon in my neighborhood . That’s just if I need something basic, like eggs. If you need something a little more exotic like fresh mint (mojitos, anyone?), your chances of finding it decrease significantly. I went to no less than six local verdulerías in my fruitless search to get limes for the aformentioned mojitos.
There is an upside to this seeming inefficiency. That upside is quality, price, and perhaps even health. It’s difficult to have a personal relationship with the fruitman at a huge supermarket. My local fruitman knows how I like my mangoes and never tries to pass off a hard one. At my local carnecería I can ask the butcher to trim the fat off my bife ancho before he weighs it. The bakers at the supermarket don’t hold the day-old facturas like my local panadería does. On a more philosophical level, I think shopping locally for what is fresh and in season is a better lifestyle choice than getting all your groceries for the week at once. At the supermarket, I tend to buy frozen food and things that can sit on my shelf for a month. When I do my shopping daily at the local markets, I tend to buy fresher and healthier food.