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Speaking the Language

Argentina - Speaking the Language

The official language of Argentina is Spanish, though there are several other languages spoken daily throughout the country. Sixty per cent of the population use Spanish – known as Castilian – as their first language. The mixed European heritage of many of the Argentine people means that their Spanish is tinged with an Italian accent.

One and a half million Argentines use Italian as their first language, making this the second language of the country, while up to half a million people are German speakers. An increasing amount of immigration from the Middle East means that Arabic is becoming much more common and some native South American languages are still in existence.

The Spanish used in Argentina differs in a number of ways from that spoken in other parts of the world. The Italian influence means that some letters are pronounced differently though this does not render the language unintelligible to a person with a good knowledge of it.

English exists in the country, though mainly as a second language and many people will understand it, so it is possible to get by without learning Spanish, though this is not really a good idea. Expats hoping to integrate into their local community and society will find that it is much easier to do so if they learn the language. Even learning a few basic phrases to begin with is a good idea. Expats will find that if they show they are willing to learn, the locals will be more than happy to help them out.

Learning a new language can be a daunting task at first, particularly for the older expat who may have been out of mainstream education for a number of years, but different language schools will have different methods of teaching so it should be fairly easy to find one to suit. One tip that everybody should take notice of before emigrating is to learn a few essential phrases. There are a wide variety of ‘teach yourself’ language CDs and books on the market and these are a good place to start. Spanish is not a particularly difficult language to learn, but those who progress past basic levels may find that there are one or two tenses which cause a problem as they are not widely used in English.

The CDs will not take into account the difference between Argentine Spanish and mainstream Spanish, so it is a good idea to enrol in classes on arrival in the country. ABC Language Schools have a number of locations in South America and offer small classes, courses which range from 1 – 16 weeks, native speaker teachers and the opportunity to get to know others in a similar situation. There are other schools – many situated in Buenos Aires – and a quick search on the internet will present the learner with a number of options.

Once learning the language the best way to improve is to use it. It may seem a little intimidating at first to speak to others in their own language but it is the best way to progress and within weeks even the most basic Spanish speakers will be more confident.

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