“You got apps that can teach you Spanish for free and you’re playing video games? You’re getting beat!”
– Eric Thomas
How to date a foreign girl across a language barrier
On my first day in Peru I realized something awful, I didn’t know how to speak Spanish! Despite practicing the language for years I was bad at it. My Pimsleur courses and workbooks had only taught me phrases like “My hotel is here” and “How much is the beer?” Actual conversation was something that I was clueless about. It was like spending years reading about basketball but never playing a single pickup game. What I was good at on paper was different from what I could accomplish in real life.
At first I thought this would really hurt my ability to socialize. Then I realized that I could turn it into a major advantage. After some extensive field testing here’s my brief guide on how to date a foreign girl across a language barrier:
Don’t go to clubs
This might vary depending on where you’re at. However, in most non-Western countries bars and clubs are a lot more hectic than in the states. Closing time in Peru is somewhere around 4 am, but certain places are able to stay open until much later. Partying until 6 am isn’t unheard of here. While the late closing time probably sounds great, I don’t like it at all. I’ve gone out every weekend and have ended up turning in “early” simply because I didn’t want to stay out past three.
While I’m sure that there are a lot of guys who do like staying out all night and partying, I’m not one of them. I don’t drink, am weirdly self-conscious about dancing (by the way, you’ll probably have to know some salsa moves if you go out), and like to be in bed before midnight.
With that said, going out is, empirically, one of the worst options here anyway. Things like online dating and Tinder are huge here. Assuming that you aren’t the most socially inept person on Earth, you can probably set up some dates with great ease. A simple ¿Cómo estás? was pretty effective for me. You don’t have to do anything crazy to get responses.
Go somewhere with lots of activity
Going on dinner dates is stupid in America and it’s even dumber when you’re in a place where English isn’t the predominant language. In the United States you might be able to use some conversational charm, but that’s pretty hard to do when you’re speaking another language.
Going for a walk, or to a place like the zoo, is the best option. There’s enough other stuff going on that you don’t really have to worry about being super witty. If you run out of things to say, or don’t know how to continue a conversation, you can point to something and say what it is in Spanish. Even something silly like pointing at a large cat and announcing “El gato es gordo” can save you.
Have a language phrasebook and some flashcards
Communicating across a language barrier can actually be pretty fun. I bought the Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary and carry some flashcards around with me. At some point I like to bust them out. Having a girl quiz you, or getting her to speak English, is enjoyable. Additionally, you’re getting a date and a free language lesson out of the deal. My phrasebook has a section directly in the middle which consists entirely of sexual statements like ¡Mas Rapido! This is right in the center of the book, meaning that it is usually the first page anyone turns to, and has consistently provided a lot of laughs.
Notes on language barrier
There is a huge difference between being rusty at Spanish and not knowing the language at all. While I might not be capable of expressing some elaborate thought in another language, I still know enough to communicate. Stepping off a plane with no speaking skills is a stupid idea and a great way to end up in trouble. At the very least you should have some proficiency with basic phrases and words. I’d recommend using either a language course or downloading Duolingo, it’s free, and investing at least an hour a day into the language.