When you’re learning English, you have an almost infinite number of ways to practice the language. Even eating out at a restaurant affords you the chance to practice and to put your skills to the test. Follow these helpful tips to turn a regular meal out into a study and practice session.
First, take plenty of time to study the menu. Make a point of going through each item, one by one, to understand what it is. If you don’t know a word, look it up on your phone or in a pocket dictionary. Tell the server you’d like to keep the menu at your table even after placing your order so that you can continue reading it.
Next, ask the server any questions you may have about the menu. When you are starting out learning English, you should focus on speaking slowly and clearly. Even if you don’t have any questions about a specific food item, ask something general such as, “What are your most popular dishes?” Listen carefully to the answers and ask follow-up questions if appropriate.
When ordering, you may be tempted to shorten your conversations by asking for an item by its name only, but make sure you use complete sentences instead. For example, instead of just saying “chicken-basil panini,” say “I would like to order the chicken-basil panini, please.” Challenge yourself to always respond in complete sentences and to order each item separately instead of taking the easier route and ordering everything using just one sentence.
If you don’t understand something the server says, ask him or her to repeat it instead of brushing it off. If he or she uses a word you don’t know, ask him to explain or define the word. If you use a friendly tone of voice and have a smile on your face, most servers will understand you’re working on learning English and should have no problem spending the extra time with you.