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January 2018

How to Date In a Foreign Language

Dating in a foreign language can jumpstart learning

The ultimate goal for many language learners is to gain conversational fluency with their target language. This is a lofty goal in general, and to gain the linguistic confidence to go out on dates in your target language, and in your target language’s country, can seem like an unreachable place. Whether or not you intend to actually date in your target language, practicing the skills required for highly social situations (whether it be dating, job interviews, or formal occasions) can benefit your language capacity overall.

Learn how to ask someone out

What are the dating procedures in your target language’s culture? How do people traditionally ask each other out? Learn the words and phrases associated with romance (practice them in front of the mirror, if necessary). The subtleties involved with such a request make for a good conversation lesson for any language student. 

You’d be surprised how different some dating cultures can be from your own, but learning these differences not only makes you a better date, it also informs you about the country’s culture. The more you learn about others, the more empathetic you can be, and the more natural your conversations will flow. 

Practice ordering with confidence

Most likely, you’ll find yourself in a restaurant, café, or bar when going out on a date. Brushing up on food vocabulary is a must. Practice ordering with confidence so you don’t stumble on your words. If you do make a mistake, gracefully correct yourself. It doesn’t hurt to laugh at your own mistakes as well; nothing is more endearing than someone committing a genuine effort to learn a new language. We all know it isn’t easy.

Role-playing exercises can help immensely. Imagine you’re in a tense (dating can often be tense) social situation. Are you able to keep your cool? Think of the different situations that occur on a date. How would you handle them with your target language? Learn to relax. 

Discover some activities

Dating isn’t just about dining. What are some activities that people do in your target language’s country? Learn the vocabulary for these activities as well. Watching a football match? Learn the phrases involved for cheering on your team. Going out to a show? Brush up on vocabulary related to concerts or theatrical performances (for example, “stage”, “aisle”, “intermission”, “my, that valkyrie has a voice”). The goal is not only to spark a meaningful conversation with your date, but also to have a good time as well.

A stroll around town is a great idea. It gives you plenty to look and talk about, meaning the chances of conversational lulls are minimised. It also offers the opportunity to learn some new vocabulary. Perhaps you’ll find yourselves in an open market. Ask about the various products. Try a few food items. Being genuinely inquisitive allows your date to see the world through your new eyes. 

Failure is your friend

Whether you’d like it or not, you’ll probably embarrass yourself at some point in a dating situation, foreign language or not. Use it. Every linguistic mistake you make is an opportunity for learning. The bigger the embarrassment, the better the chance you’ll remember the lesson. The biggest mistake any language learner can commit is not trying, not speaking, and not taking risks. Speak up, be yourself, and be thankful that kissing is more or less the same in any language.

Have you ever been on a date in a foreign country and/or in a foreign language? Let us know your experiences and tips on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language and culture from around the world!