Posts Tagged ‘Argentine Customs and Culture’

Spanish & Tango in Buenos Aires

Thursday, January 21, 2016 12:23

Categories - Argentine Customs and Culture - 0 Comments

TanjaMiletic 14 1024x683 Spanish & Tango in Buenos Aires

Argentina is considered the birthplace and remains the beating heart of Tango so if you are here in Buenos Aires learning spanish you should also spend some time learning this sacred national dance!

Here at Expanish we offer a combined package of Spanish and Tango classes. We offer many cultural “add-ons” that are specific to Argentina and they are a brilliant way to experience the local culture here in Buenos Aires. With this option of the Tango add-on, you can have Spanish classes for four hours every morning during the week and then twice a week in the afternoon, you can go on to a tango class close to the school – one group class and one individual class.

The group classes are a fun way to practice the Spanish you have learnt in class with a local professor, and other students from all over the world including some Argentinians too. The professors are all highly trained and experienced. You will learn the key steps through formal instructions and dance floor practice. As with the Spanish classes, we also have tango classes for different levels from beginner to advanced. The classes are usually given in Spanish but the professor will be happy to help in English if you need some clarification.
If you are taking Spanish classes, you are always encouraged to speak as much Spanish outside of the classroom to practice your skills day to day in real life situations. The same goes for tango – apart from the classes, you should get out there and practice! You could visit a tango hall to watch a show or even go to a Milonga which is a local tango dance hall where you can put into practice what you have learnt! You can arrange any of these extra activities here at the school when you arrive.
So if you want to improve your spanish whilst immersing yourself in the tango culture of Argentina, talk to us about our Spanish & Tango Package! You can contact us here.

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The Do’s & Dont’s of Mate

Friday, January 2, 2015 11:33

Categories - Argentine Customs and Culture - 0 Comments

Pass the Mate

Mate. In Argentina, you are bound to hear the word mate in a conversation. Exploring South America, you are very likely to see people walking with a strange cup in one hand and a thermos in the other. Maybe you have tried it or you are curious to know what it is like. Most foreigners are apprehensive to try it because it’s so different and almost sacred to Argentineans. And then we learn that everyone shares the same cup. It’s a lot of culture in one little drink.

My first try was in the comfort of my own home but many people try mate in front of a group of Argentineans because it is, after all, a social drink. It can be embarrassing if you don’t know what to do because there seems to be so many rules! I’ve officially completed my right of passage with mate in Argentina–the day a person drinks mate alone for the very first time. It’s one of the proudest moments in a parent’s life, so I’m told. But preparing mate for a group of people is complicated to learn–what is the technique, the temperature, the etiquette?

Yerba mate, the tea-looking part, comes from the holly plant. As a traditional South American drink, it’s grown and sold in abundance. The leaves from the holly plant are dried and crushed to become yerba. The cup you put the yerba in is actually called the mate…a little tricky there. A mate cup is traditionally made of a type of gourd. The straw you drink from is called a bombilla. The bombilla acts as a filter sucking up the water and leaving behind the yerba. Never move or remove the straw when you are drinking…it’s considered rude and will mess up the yerba flow.

The person who prepares and serves the mate is called the cebador. The cebador will put hot but not boiling water (this is key, don’t let an Argentinean hear the kettle screaming) into the yerba-filled mate cup. I learned to pour the water slowly during the first pour as to let the water seep through the yerba correctly. The cebador will then take the first drink because it is usually cold or too bitter. Once it’s just right, you can pass it around.

Each person will drink all the water from the mate until you hear a sucking noise. This means all the water is gone. Many first-timers (myself included) just take a sip. Think about it–it makes sense to finish all the water. The cebador will refill the mate for each person. If you don’t want more, you say gracias and everyone will understand that you do not want any more. Don’t say gracias just to be polite and say thank you because it will be misinterpreted as I’m finished. So watch out for that additional tricky mate rule.

Mate can be amargo (bitter), dulce (sweet), tereré (with juice instead of water) or another variation. I like to add a little bit of azucar rubia to the water or perhaps some instant coffee if I want more energy for Spanish class. But I also like it bitter without anything added which surprises a lot of porteños. Mate is similar to coffee in the way that it is an acquired taste and the more you drink the more you become accustomed and truly enjoy it. Not only that, but it’s very social. Mate is offered almost instantly upon arriving at an Argentinean home.

And don’t be afraid to drink up! Mate is good for you. It has a fair amount of caffeine to wake you up but contains less than a cup of coffee. It also has antioxidants and a few vitamins and minerals such as iron and Vitamin B. Mate is most often served with galletitas (traditional Argentinean cookies) or facturas such as medialunas around 5, 6 or 7pm in between lunch and dinner. This is great if you are eating dinner according to Argentina time–around 9 or 10 pm!

Be sure to join one of Expanish’s mate tasting classes to learn more and try it for yourself!

TanjaMiletic 12 300x200 The Dos & Donts of Mate

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Just say Mafalda – Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires with this charming little girl.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 9:21

Categories - Argentine Customs and Culture - 0 Comments

Students taking Spanish immersion courses in Buenos Aires and learning about Argentine culture will soon notice the great sense of humor that the people here have; especially about politics, history, and things typical to Argentina. To express these thoughts to the masses, Argentines for decades now have turned to writing comics. Students learning Spanish in Buenos Aires can open most local papers and find a dedicated spot for comics specific to Argentina.


One very well-known and loved comic is called Mafalda. The Mafalda comic features a little girl who was extremely concerned about humanity, world peace and making a change. She speaks about past and current events, challenges them, and gives people new insights. Students taking Spanish immersion courses in Buenos Aires will be able to get an insight into history, and the country, and the fears and feelings that were had during many important times in history. Students learning Spanish in Buenos Aires can relate this character to those characters of the American comic Peanuts. Like the children in Peanuts, Mafalda is very adult-like and speaks about relevant topics and concerns.


Students in Spanish immersion courses in Buenos Aires will no doubt have seen her collection of comics in local bookstores. Discontinued now, between the years of 1964-1973 Mafalda appeared in the newspaper Primera Plana, then Mundo, and lastly Siete Días Ilustrados. The comics that students learning Spanish in Buenos Aires will find now are short collections, during sectioned periods of her publication are definitely worth a buy for their humor, politics, and Argentine history.


Click for more information on Spanish immersion courses in Buenos Aires!

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Learn Spanish with Expanish and Learn to Eat Argentine Style

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 12:20

Categories - Buenos Aires City Attractions - 1 Comment

cena en la cigale 016 300x225 Learn Spanish with Expanish and Learn to Eat Argentine Style

Anyone visiting Argentina will be able to enjoy the splendors of eating ‘Argentine style’. Argentines, in general, are heavy meat eaters, lovers of bread and wine, and regular consumers of pizza, pasta, and gelatto (sorbet like ice cream popularized in Italy). And those who come to study Spanish in Argentina with Expanish will have the first rate experience at trying and tasting the many delicious foods that are typical to Argentina.

What are foods typical to Argentina? Carne (meat), empanadas (stuffed pastries with meat, cheese, and/or vegetables), medialunas (similar to a croissant), dulces (sweets), chimichurri (sauce of herbs), milanesas (breaded thin meats), humita (sweet stewed corn mixture), dulce de leche (singed condensed milk), and many other Italian influenced delights such as pizza, pasta, and gelatto. These tasty foods can be found throughout the city in cafés, restaurants, and grocery stores and for many main foreign currencies, are often very inexpensive. Although not a food, we can not leave out the ever famous wines of Argentina. Argentina produces a vast line of wines from all over the country.

Students learning Spanish in Argentina with Expanish will have the opportunity to learn to cook and experience these foods with weekly cooking classes and local restaurant excursions. For those interested in wine tasting, we also offer weekly wine tasting classes. Participating in these classes and excursions will create a greater understanding of the Argentine culture and its Italian and Spanish roots and students will make the most of their Spanish immersion in Argentina.

Our cooking classes take place outside of our Spanish school in Buenos Aires in the house of our cook and professor, Leonardo. In the first class, students will be taught how to make empanadas and humita, and in the second carne and dulces. Any other classes are open to student preferences and Leonardo will assist you in creating your favorite Argentine dishes while learning about the ingredients and history of the dish.

Our wine tasting classes are a great way to learn about the history of wine in Argentina as well as taste many different wines from different regions from Argentina. Our students will attend the Escuela Argentina de Vinos (Argentina School of Wine) and taste more than 20 different wines. There are three classes in total, all three hours long. These classes are great for students learning Spanish in Buenos Aires with Expanish as all wine classes are in Spanish.

Around our Spanish school in Buenos Aires there are many typical Argentine restaurants as well as many modern and funky restaurants debuting Argentine foods with a modern or infused taste. Every week, Expanish will arrange one dinner or more at one of Buenos Aires local restaurants where students can enjoy the Argentine cuisine in a social and fun atmosphere.

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