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One suggestion I heard for practicing Spanish was to go to a restaurant where Spanish is spoken (there are a few Mexican restaurants in my area where the waiters are bilingual) and order in Spanish. Seems like a good idea to me; the vocabulary is simple and the conversations are short, plus I can plan ahead of time what to say.

However, I find that time and again whenever I try to order in Spanish, the waiter switches to English. I know that they speak Spanish; I hear them speaking Spanish to colleagues and other patrons. But they insist on speaking English with me.

In one case, I started speaking in Spanish, the waiter switched to English, then he moved on to my Hispanic colleague where he, without hesitation, conducted the order in Spanish, much to my frustration.

My Spanish isn't perfect, but I've had no problem being understood in basic conversations (my American accent doesn't seem to be too much of a barrier either). I am of German descent and look the part, so I'm afraid that my appearance may be influencing this behavior.

Is there any way that I can order food in Spanish, without the waiter switching to English?

  • Podrías intentar "disculpa, no hablo ingles" de esa forma van a verse forzadas a responderte en el otro único idioma que saben .. español. – Marco Apr 6 '16 at 3:39
  • @Marco Mi acento es americano, así estaría torpe si fingí no hablo ingles. – Thunderforge Apr 6 '16 at 4:04
  • @Paul I had thought that cultural customs related to learning Spanish would be on topic. Is there a better SE site that I can ask this question? – Thunderforge Apr 6 '16 at 4:10
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    I'm not sure this is on-topic here. You could ask on travel.SE, maybe? I don't know what kind of questions you can ask there, though. Anyway, why not just be honest? Tell them "Háblame en español, por favor. Quiero practicar" or something. People always react positively when other people are interested in their culture. – Yay Apr 6 '16 at 5:48
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    @Flimzy The tour says that this site includes questions about "Problems encountered by people learning Spanish", which I would think would apply to this. Although a new Language Learning SE would probably be a more clear fit as well. – Thunderforge Apr 8 '16 at 16:54
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Various options that you can think about are:

  1. Tell the waiter you are trying to improve/practice Spanish.

    • You can say "Me gustaría mejorar mi español, ¿podría hablar en español, por favor?"
    • If it is too redundant, you can simply say "¿Podría hablar(me) en español, por favor?"
  2. Keep talking Spanish until the waiter realizes you want to use Spanish.

  3. Tell him you don't speak English.

    • Yeah, I've read the comments, but maybe you can say you are German, it is an option too.

I read that you prepared what you are going to say, which is pretty great. With the first option, if you are polite, he can keep talking in Spanish. With the second, he may ask you again if you want to use English, if you don't know some Spanish words. With the third, you better simulate a German accent.

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    It'll be terribly uncomfortable if the waiter speaks German too :) – Duncan_m Dec 28 '16 at 4:05
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Just keep talking in Spanish. If the waiter is smart enough he/she will use the language that you are using.

For me it is exactly the same when I want to practice my English and people switch to Spanish; if I am confident enough, I also say that I prefer to speak in English.

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