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Family speaking their own language on playdates

(166 Posts)
Wherediditland Sun 01-May-16 07:28:37

I'm probably going to get flamed.

My DD is 9 and has a good friend from school whose parents are native German.

She has been over on play dates many times but often a bit reluctantly (considering they are great friends and she loves having this friend over here to play)

I have managed to get her to tell me why today and it is because the family only speak German when she is over there.

The parents and children have all lived in the UK many years (children born here) and speak fluent English.

Initially she had asked me to help her learn some words she could use over there like thank you and please etc and seemed to want to join in but the last few months she has been much less keen to go and actually asked me to turn down the last invite.

She says the family chat away in German and she feels uncomfortable especially if they start giggling and she doesn't know what it is about.
The last visit she informs me they were all at the table and she asked in England to go to the loo and the mum basiclaly said 'in German please' I think. DD may be wrong but she felt on the spot and they laughed and she said she had a little cry in the loo.

I feel a bit torn as obviously they feel happy speaking German at home and DD has to respect that but I can understand why she doesn't want to go and I know the mum will question me if I keep turning play dates down.

Would or should I raise it or will I offend the mum?

kelda Sun 01-May-16 07:29:52

It sounds like they are trying to teach her German.

OhWotIsItThisTime Sun 01-May-16 07:30:40

I'd say nothing, but wouldn't let her go again. If asked, I'd tell them why.

But I'm sure some more direct posters will be along in a minute!

Lighteningirll Sun 01-May-16 07:33:49

They are being really rude but possibly don't realise it. I don't think I'd let her go again either.

SaucyJack Sun 01-May-16 07:34:47

Don't send her any more.

It's their choice to speak in German in their own home, but your DD doesn't have to keep going round there if she doesn't feel at ease.

If the parents ask why your DD has stopped going round to play then I reckon honesty is the best policy. It's up to them what they do with the information (or not).

Friolero Sun 01-May-16 07:36:09

If she doesn't want to go I wouldn't make her. If the mum asks why you're turning down the play dates, I'd probably just be honest and say your DD isn't comfortable having everyone always talk in German when she doesn't understand what's being said.

AlwaysDancing1234 Sun 01-May-16 07:36:35

When DS was in Nirsery/Reception he had friends who were French speakers at home. The mum would always remind them "English please" when we and other Nursery friends were there.
The mum would say things like "here is your water Fred" then say to one of her DC "can you tell Fred how we say that in French".
That's teaching - the scenario you described doesn't sound right.
Maybe explain to the Mum that your DD would love to learn more German but feels a little nervous about it and could they use English around her u til she gets he hang of it.

GinIsIn Sun 01-May-16 07:37:26

I grew up in a bilingual household and this is SO RUDE.

Your DD sounds lovely and frankly the mum should be told that it's not on - it must be very isolating for the child visiting!

mrsmugoo Sun 01-May-16 07:40:31

Yes it's common courtesy to not exclude one person if they can't understand the language you are speaking.

Pseudo341 Sun 01-May-16 07:40:54

It sounds to me like they are being deliberately cruel to a young child. I would tell them she wouldn't go again and I'd find a way to tell them why very politely while making it clear that what they've done is wrong. Insisting she asks to go to the toilet in German when they know damn well she doesn't speak German is out of order.

Janecc Sun 01-May-16 07:41:21

Ahhh. That's really sad and very baffling. I imagine they're trying to teach her German and this is their way of doing it but it's really awful. If not, they're callous idiots. Either she stops going or they stop speaking German.

Peppaismyhomegirl Sun 01-May-16 07:43:28

I know parents who speak to their toddler in another language when in my home! It's very rude! Great they are bi lingual, but thwy also need to learn manners!

WankyDailyCuntMail Sun 01-May-16 07:44:52

I had exactly this a good few years ago except the family in question were Dutch.

I ended up getting so irritated with the mum coming to pick her dd up and questioning her in Dutch (in front of me) and her daughter answering in a sad voice in Dutch then the mother using a sympathetic tone then the two of them sniggering.

I ended up saying 'we only speak English in this house' felt like the bloke from league of gentlemen.

They moved back to Holland a few months later but I don't take it personally grin

ChilliMum Sun 01-May-16 07:45:18

Yanbu. We don't live in the UK but speak English at home. My kids speak the local language fluently, I am learning but not good yet and dh only a spattering.
We always speak the local language when the dc have friends over and when i am struggling or dh wants to join in the dc translate between us. I still worry so much that the dc friends will not be comfortable at our house, I can't imagine why a family would create that atmosphere on purpose.

LondonKitty Sun 01-May-16 07:46:04

We have many bilingual families amongst our friends. Speaking another language at home is great (super way for young children to learn another language!), but they normally would not speak another language when an English-only speaking person is present. That would be rude if it were an adult. However, making a child so uncomfortable that she goes to the toilet and cries goes beyond mere rudeness!

I would not subject my child to this and would certainly bring it up with the mother.

You or your daughter can chose that she learns a new language. Your neighbours can't force her to learn their native language!

If you were living in Germany, then it would be completely different. Making the choice to live in another country means both adults and children should make every effort to communicate in that language.

As this is not the case, I don't understand why you are worried you would be flamed for keeping your child away. This familiy's behaviour is horrendous.

Eminado Sun 01-May-16 07:47:21

*Today 07:37 FenellaMaxwell

I grew up in a bilingual household and this is SO RUDE.

Your DD sounds lovely and frankly the mum should be told that it's not on - it must be very isolating for the child visiting!*

Totally agree.

IWILLgiveupsugar Sun 01-May-16 07:51:51

The other family are being so rude and I wouldn't bother raising this politely, I'd be handing that mother her arse on a plate for bullying a child and making her cry.

They have chosen to live here, they should speak English in the company of English people.

Igneococcus Sun 01-May-16 07:52:23

That is incredibly rude. I'm German but there is no way I would ever do that to a friend of the dc. I know some bilingual families where the parents are very strict in speaking only their own language to their children but they would usually then translate for the person who doesn't speak the language.
I would tell the mother exactly what the issue is when she asks why you turn down play dates.

TigerPath Sun 01-May-16 07:52:29


It's a great opportunity for your DD to learn German. And to realise that the rest of the world doesn't speak English! Why can't she learn a few simple German phrases? She's in someone else's home, she should fit in with their ways of doing things.

Imagine how many opportunities will open up to her if she picks up another language.

Wherediditland Sun 01-May-16 07:53:16

Ok thank you

I'm not worried about keeping her away- more whether I should give the real reason or just bluff it

Wanky you made me laugh!

NaffOffMartha Sun 01-May-16 07:55:41

Talk to them about it as there is a (admittedly small) chance they might not realise.

We live outside the UK and speak English at home (which is not the local language). Adults here understand English almost without exception, but I have sometimes accidentally said things in English to DS's friends who then look at me in confusion. Or I hear them saying "What did your mother say?" after I've said something to DS.

I am absolutely not doing it to be rude or exclusionary, it is a combination of habit (DS's English is not very good and I'm always having to encourage him to use it) and forgetting that there are in fact some people in the world who don't speak English!

So it's worth addressing it with them. Some people me are more sensitive than others and it could well be that they mean jt all pretty jokingly and don't realise how rude and hurtful they are being.

Igneococcus Sun 01-May-16 07:57:59

Don't bluff it, tell her why this is wrong (I happily translate it into plain and clear German for you to really get the point across).

Headofthehive55 Sun 01-May-16 07:58:16

The point is she doesn't have to be in someone else's home tiger

Bogburglar99 Sun 01-May-16 08:08:23

It sounds like the extent to which they're doing it is rather extreme. My kids attend quite a polyglot schooI and have friends who speak a few different languages at home.
I am sure there is plenty of non English spoken between parents, or parent to child, when they visit them. Equally I'm sure most of the parents don't carry on family conversation in the other language over their heads the entire time. Not letting her go to the loo without asking in German seems really unkind.

It's higher risk than just bluffing but I might try and have a chat with the mum about it. Do you think it's possible they have a 'German only at home' rule to keep the kids language skills up, and haven't thought through what that's like for your daughter? Only thinking as I have a couple of French and German friends who are very insistent that the children speak French/German to them all the time, in order to reinforce that side of the bilingualism. Makes sense but 9 is usually old enough to understand 'German only at home unless you have a non German speaking friend to visit'.

nomoreintimacyever Sun 01-May-16 08:09:06

Yes it's common courtesy to not exclude one person if they can't understand the language you are speaking.

You'd think wouldn't you but H and his Mum often chat to each other for ages in their language while I am the only other person in the room - no hint of translating for me unless I ask on the occasion that they seem to be laughing about something. angry It gives me the rage and is very rude, yes. This is one of the reasons I don't really enjoy going to MIL's house (we have to stay for the weekend as too far away) that and H's bullying sister.

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