Hand Gestures You Need to Know Before Teaching Abroad in Argentina

By Kelly Poindexter
January 22, 2014

You’ve heard it from us before; learning the language is an important part of of your teach abroad experience. But, what about those non-verbal cues? The nods, the winks, the finger flicks. Those are just as important to understanding not only the conversation, but the culture too!

If you decide to take the IDELT in Buenos Aires, you’ll be sure to see a lot of hands waving around meaninglessly. Argentines love to talk with their hands, so much that you may be walking down a busy street and inadvertingly get whomped in the face (true story.) So, we’ve gathered together four of the hand gestures most often used and seen at our TEFL institute in Buenos Aires. And we even got a real Argentine to demonstrate these mystery signals for us!


Ojo – If you’ve gone totally overboard, like by insulting Ricardo Darín or hitting on someone’s novio, you may get one of these, accompanied by “ojo, eh” or “cuidado.” Basically, you better just watch your back from now on.


No sé – Your EFL students might throw this one at you (start from your chin and flick your fingers outward), if you ask them the past participle of run or the capital of Arkansas. If they get too cocky, just pull the next gesture on them.


Comportáte bien – Behavior yourself! A rapid back-and-forth slicing movement in the air that will quickly instill the fear of TEFL into your students.


¿De qué hablás? – If the conversation in Spanish is moving too fast, or if you’re students are a little quirky (this usually happens when you’re teaching the IT department), you may want to ask them ¿de qué hablás? or what the heck are you talking about?

If you’re teaching English in Argentina and want to share some of your favorite hand gestures (let’s keep it clean, kids), you can share them with our community of EFL teachers on Facebook!