The Female ESL Student and the Male Predator

Vancouver seems to be full of men who prey on female ESL students. Having worked in the ESL industry for several years now, I’ve seen with my own eyes many questionable men approaching these women, and I’ve heard countless stories from female students who feel the need to vent. It’s truly a pandemic.

Picture this scenario: a female Japanese student in her 20s is sitting alone at Starbucks. She has some notebooks and textbooks in front of her. A man sitting nearby is scoping the scene, looking for a target and making sure his target is indeed an ESL student. He sees her electronic dictionary, an ubiquitous asset that marks her as an ESL student. Suddenly, he’s confident, approaches her table and sits down.

“Konichiwa! You’re Japanese right? I love Japanese culture.”

The girl smiles and is probably thinking  how charming and friendly Canadian men are and how this is a great opportunity for her to practise speaking English. The man continues:

“What are you studying?  English grammar? Ah, relative clauses…uh-huh, this is easy, I can teach you English for free at my apartment. What’s your phone number? “

*Le sigh* Does this even work? Yes, unfortunately it does. I’ve witnessed variations of this scene countless times. I’ve often took it upon myself to warn the student (while the predator isn’t there, of course). Regrettably, I’ve seen many students fall for this “smooth” talk.

So, should I mind my own business?What’s wrong with guys using this method to pick up girls?

Well, first of all,  I think this is my business. These men are obviously taking advantage of these girls, and as a woman I am indignant by such incidences. Obviously these girls can be considered naive in the sense that their language ability isn’t high enough, and they are in a new unfamiliar environment so don’t realize that the way these men are acting is unnatural and predatory. They are not stupid, they just don’t understand the situation. We would probably be the same in another country and culture that we’re not familiar with, especially if language was a factor.

And as for my other question , I find it sad that men actually make a career of picking up these women. I’ve heard female Asian women being called “yellow cabs”. As a black women, I have also been subjected to stereotypes based on my colour and I’ve had to stand my ground when men make disparaging comments and judgements based on what they believe me to be.

I wonder what’s going through the minds of these men. Actually, this is what I think:

1. I’ve already mentioned that there are stereotypes about female ESL students being easy. Obviously these men don’t feel like working hard for whatever they’re after.

2. They like the idea of having a submissive partner (as it is rumoured that Asian girls, especially Japanese girls, don’t say no)

3. They know that most ESL students only stay here on a one-year visa so they don’t really have to commit for longer than that.

In my opinion, these all add up to pretty weak “men”! I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a native English speaker to be interested in a female ESL student he finds pretty or interesting. What I’m against is those men who purposefully frequent ESL student hangouts (Vancouver Public Library, certain cafes on Granville and Seymour, for example) and wait all day to find a girl to talk to. You, sirs, are in serious need of a life.


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