How To Be Charming in a Language You Barely Speak

Originally published on

“You exceeded my expectations!” the beautiful Brazilian girl beside me exclaimed, in her exotically accented English to the Barista in the gourmet cafe. The Barista had created one of those cute little paintings with creamer on the surface of her latte which apparently exceeded her expectations.

That entire day, even after we finished our coffee and she left with an effortlessly enunciated ciao, I couldn’t help but smile at how damn cute the way she talked sounded. I’d spent quite a lot of time around foreign accents, even hung out with a fair share of Brazilians but something about hers was unique.

After 7 months in Central and South America spent learning Spanish and making friends with travelers hailing from Iceland to Pakistan, I’ve finally figured out what made the Brazilian in the cafe so charming.

It wasn’t the musicality of her native Portuguese tongue flirting with the Teutonic sounds of English, it wasn’t because she could have passed for being Halle Berry’s younger sister, her charm was in her usage of English expressions that captured the specific emotions of the moment.

Have you ever met a foreigner who was very charming even though they had a thick accent and made a lot of grammar mistakes? A lot of times it’s because they know how to use specific English expressions to capture the emotional tonality of the moment. This makes perfect sense on a very simple level, we feel a great affinity for people who understand what we are going through.

If you speak or are learning a second language you can totally use this to your advantage, focus on learning and using expressions and phrases as opposed to grammar rules, it actually makes language learning fun and easier.

Humor: For some reason, people are a whole lot funnier when they tell jokes in their second language to native speakers of that language. I remember cracking up when my friend Eli responded to a bold claim, in his thick Isreali ascent “Is that the truth, or the brother of the truth?” So be a little bolder in telling jokes in your second language, even if they are dumb or not very original.

Colloquialisms: There can also be a lot of charm in using colloquialisms; expressions, words or phrases that are specific to geographic areas, cities, states, and countries. Learning colloquialisms is a great way to connect with local culture, simply ask locals to teach you some popular sayings or expressions

Here are some useful expressions in Spanish, if you have some more add them in the comments!

Expressions in Spanish

“El placer fue a el mio” The pleasure was mine
“Todos los caminos yeavan hacia aroma”
Everyone has to find their own way
Charmed to meet you!
“Por supuesto”
Of course!
“No es cosa tuya”
None of your business
“Pura vida”
Pure life! (Costa Rica)
“Que Onda”
Whatsup! (Panama)
“Más vale tarde que nunca”
Better late than never
“Cruzando los dedos.”
Cross your fingers
“Me estás tomando el pelo.”
You’re pulling my leg
“Yo también”
Same here
“Siéntete como en tu casa”
Make yourself at home

Originally published on

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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