Home > Uncategorized > How to impress native speakers of the foreign language you’re learning

How to impress native speakers of the foreign language you’re learning

Imagine you found yourself to be in these scenarios.  I’d say you’d be pretty amazed if:

  • You are a Chinese in Mainland China.  You see a Caucasian, and suddenly he asks you for directions in clear Mandarin.
  • You are a Vietnamese student in London, having dinner at a nearby fast food joint.  An African starts to speak Vietnamese to you fluently in the same restaurant you’re eating in.
  • You are a German backpacking in Korea. A random Asian guy you meet in the hostel says a long sentence in German such as, “Achso, du bist aus Deutschland.  Also vor 3 Jahren war ich auch Student da!”

So how can we amaze foreigners who travel to our country with our knowledge of their language?

Honestly, most of the time when you actually discover that someone is a foreigner who speaks the foreign language you are learning, it’s by asking this really simple question: “Where are you from?”

My suggestion is: When you find out someone is from the ‘target’ country that speaks your foreign language, say this in the foreign language you are learning: “Wow!!  You’re from Country X?  Actually now I’m in the process of learning *English*.  What are you doing here?”

Here’s an example in German, Spanish, and Mandarin for your consideration:

“Achso!  Du bist aus Deutschland?  Im Moment lerne ich Deutsch.  So, was machst du hier heute eigentlich?”

“De verdad, eres de Espana?  Ahora estoy aprendido espanol!  Pues, que haces hoy aqui?”


You may not be able to speak any more of the lanugage, but your mastery of this sentence will demonstrate your effort.  You can caveat next by saying “Ok, that’s all I know in your language… maybe you can teach me more!”

But at the very least, you’ve probably made a new friend. 😀

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