You only have to google “Spanish School in Buenos Aires” to realize how popular the concept of learning Spanish here is. Despite the very distinct castellano of Argentina, Buenos Aires manages to lure multitudes of foreigners who flock here to experience life in this latin city while brushing up on their español.
Choosing a school can be overwhelming, especially when trying to book in advance and judge schools from their websites. There are so many to choose from and most offer the same basic 20hr/week intensive classes (with some variations and the option for private classes) within (more or less) the same price range. Many schools also offer after-school activities, workshops, and accommodation at a home-stay, dorm-style residence or shared apartment.
In the end, I went with Vamos Spanish Academy, and loved my month of classes there. But read on for a few tips that helped me choose a school and for a list of other schools I had considered:
- Since you only have to pay per week, don’t book more than 1 or 2 weeks of classes in advance. There are so many schools in Buenos Aires, it is better to be flexible so that if you get to a school and don’t like it or the accommodation, you can change after a week or two. Some people I met didn’t book anything and spent the first week visiting different schools and then making a decision. But as a first-time solo female traveler in a country I had heard mixed reviews about, I wanted to have a reputable school and accommodation booked for the first two weeks. After two weeks, I continued classes at Vamos, but didn’t stay at their accommodation, which was quite expensive. Luckily, I met an Australian girl at Vamos who was living with 2 Argentine girls, just a few blocks from my first apartment and she offered me a room at their place. This worked out way cheaper and allowed me to speak more Spanish and experience more local life thanks to the 2 Argentine roommates.
- Decide what neighborhood you want to stay in and pick a school in that neighborhood. People aren’t kidding when they say Buenos Aires is a HUGE city, and I really owe a big thank you to the friend who had advised me to work and play in the same barrio. Though the city is very well-connected through colectivo (bus) and subte (subway) lines, commuting takes a while and battling crowds during rush hour is never fun. Vamos as well as my 2 accommodations were all located in Palermo – one of the biggest and most popular/fun barrios.
- Shortlist a few schools and email them for more information. You can learn a lot about the school from little things like the tone of the email, the length of the response and the response time. I asked a few schools everything from school-specific questions to general questions on living in Buenos Aires, which helped me get a sense of both the school as well as life in BA from the perspective of people living there.
- Look out for hidden costs. Some schools advertise themselves as being very cheap, but get you with the hidden costs such as application fees, cost of textbooks, cost of workshops and extracurricular activities. I liked Vamos because it laid out all its costs upfront and the tuition included the cost of all workshops and materials (and there was no application fee).
Vamos was not the cheapest nor the most expensive (though slightly towards the pricier side). But I loved the small classes of 2-6 students (my class only had one other student!) and the teachers are truly amazing. The small school size also helped me get to know everyone quickly and within the first week, I had a solid group of international friends with whom I explored barrios, nightlife, green spaces and the dining scene. Vamos is not a young party school like some others seem to be. Students here are of all age groups and they go to Vamos because they want to learn. Overall, it was the perfect choice for my one month of intensive Spanish classes, but for those looking to do some more research, here are a few other schools I considered:
- DWS :: www.dwsba.com.ar :: Ave Cordoba 4382 :: email@example.com :: +54.11.4777.6515
- Into Words :: www.intowords.com.ar :: Paraguay 3870 :: firstname.lastname@example.org :: +54.11.4822.3030
In El Centro:
- Ibero (cheapest option I found) :: www.iberospanish.com :: Uruguay 150 :: email@example.com :: +54.11.2057.1116
- Expanish :: www.expanish.com :: Tte. Gral. Juan Domingo Perón 698-700 :: firstname.lastname@example.org :: +54.11.5252.3040