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Talking in your native language, is it acceptable in a group?

(148 Posts)
AllDruggedUpWithNowhereToGo Fri 14-Feb-20 13:48:38

The other evening I was at an adult education class and there was an issue. So I have a “who was being unreasonable”

Person A and person B were chatting in their own language during the class and person C complained about it.

The thing is we are a very chatty class, and person A claimed racism due to it being a foreign language and that no one else had been named as being a distraction. The tutor shut the issue down quickly and stressed the “distraction” aspect of it, but I got the impression that the “foreign language” aspect was what person C had the real issue with (if it makes a difference the conversation A and B were having was nothing to do with the class we are taking)

I am neither A, B or C but now feel really uncomfortable by the division in the class because of this.

Also I can see both sides of the division. I was raised that to exclude people when you are all part of a group is rude (is this a cultural thing though?), but then if English isn’t your first language and you live in an English speaking country, I imagine it’s nice to be able to chat in your native language.

So who was BU?

AIBU for A&B
AINBU for C

(Also I have name changed, rarely post, but have been here since penis beaker)

BlackCatSleeping Fri 14-Feb-20 13:51:34

I think if 2 people are having a private conversation, they can do it in their own language, as long as they switch back to the communal language.

BlingLoving Fri 14-Feb-20 13:53:45

Was everyone else having private conversations at the same time?In which case, of course they can speak in whatever language they want. If the two of them were sitting with a third person who was therefore excluded, then that's something different entirely. DH might speak to family members in their own language at home while I'm pottering around the kitchen and I would think nothing of it, but if I join them in the lounge the conversation immediately reverts to English.

gamerwidow Fri 14-Feb-20 13:54:27

Depends what was going on in class. If they were doing group work and person C was being excluded by person A&B then its wrong. If person A&B were obviously talking about person C then its wrong. If it's just a chat then they shouldn't really be doing it in class time but its not wrong per se.

JustAnouk Fri 14-Feb-20 13:56:27

Depends on the situation, yes.

I speak English in a non-English-speaking country at times and I know that almost everyone understands it, even if they don’t (want to) speak it.

If a few Serbian refugees were talking to each other you’d be a dickhead to complain about it.

And yes, it’s a huge relief to chat in your own language at times. Especially when tired.

But if I was in a class and we were chatting as a group, I wouldn’t just switch to my own language (English) just like I wouldn’t start whispering. It excludes people.

If someone else did it and it bothered me, I’d address it politely. “Oh please speak in [class language] A, I really want to hear what you have to say,” with a Smile.

elQuintoConyo Fri 14-Feb-20 13:56:34

Person C is a twat. I'm fluent in the language of the country I live in, but if I can have a chat in English omg the RELIEF! Always on a 1-2-1 basis and not at the centre of a party or anything, but hell yes. I'm careful not to laugh out loud and draw attention to myself, or look like I'm taking the piss out of anyone.

StarbucksSmarterSister Fri 14-Feb-20 13:58:04

It's none of C's business whst language they used as long as they weren't disrupting the class (and then they'd have done that if they were speaking in English too!).

ChardonnaysDistantCousin Fri 14-Feb-20 13:58:42

A private conversation in a foreign language is fine, but not during class.

They are all BU.

teablanket Fri 14-Feb-20 14:01:12

It was a private conversation, unless C was miffed about not being able to eavesdrop I'm not sure why she'd be bothered.

JustAnouk Fri 14-Feb-20 14:02:15

I'm fluent in the language of the country I live in, but if I can have a chat in English omg the RELIEF!

OMG there’s nothing like finding a fellow native speaker at a party. Instant best friends grin

ShyTown Fri 14-Feb-20 14:02:56

Fine if it’s a private conversation that isn’t disrupting class. It’s not ok if it’s supposed to be a group discussion or if talking is stopping others from learning, although if that were the case then the language would be irrelevant.

TakeMe2Insanity Fri 14-Feb-20 14:03:17

Private conversation at start of class (the hello time) or at the end of class (the bye time) fine.

Private conversation at break time fine.

Private conversation while the class is in full flow and teacher is teaching, not fine.

Now add foreign language in to the above. Still the same outcomes.

WalkingDeadTrainee Fri 14-Feb-20 14:04:15

I find it rude to speak my other language in presence of others when we are meant to be a group. Or at work. Unless I tell them "Sorry, we will be talking in x language for a bit, if you don't mind".

WalkingDeadTrainee Fri 14-Feb-20 14:06:50

I am a wierdo😂 I don't find it great to find fellow native language speakers🙈 First few years abroad, yeah, but not after that.

notalwaysalondoner Fri 14-Feb-20 14:11:02

I think it’s rude if there is the expectation from others in the group that they might be included. Eg if no one else was talking, or it was a group sitting at a table where one or more people would be left out. Talking in a class is rude anyway unless it’s paired work in which case I think they should stick to the language the class is taught in so the teacher can intervene.

I had a situation with a big group of Brazilians when I was in a training course who thought it wasn’t rude to talk in Portuguese during lunch when we were sat at a big table together. There was one other English girl but it meant we could only talk to each other and felt very left out - these were fluent English speakers on a professional course. Even when called out on it they didn’t seem to think it was an issue, so maybe it’s cultural, but I was taught it is rude to do something that leaves certain individuals out. It’s like talking about a mutual friend or the high school you went to when the third person doesn’t know them or didn’t go there - fine for 30 seconds but rude if it goes on for ages.

JustAnouk Fri 14-Feb-20 14:11:26

@walkingdeadtrainee I’m the opposite! The first few years I avoided them, I wanted to learn the local language. Now after 20-plus years I’m like, speak English to me, baby wink

Damntheman Fri 14-Feb-20 14:15:50

If all the conversations in the room were private conversations and C was in a conversation of their own with someone else, then A and B are ok to talk in their own language privately.

If C was actively left out as a result of being unable to understand A and B then A and B were being dicks.

In a class setting I'd expect everyone in the class to be communicating in the same language that the class was being taught in. A and B were being dicks.

So.. most likely A and B were being dicks. I say this as someone who can use another language easily as a 'secret language' if I want to. It's just extremely rude and excluding to do it. It's like the 'open chair' policy, a conversation - unless very private and personal (in which case shouldn't be held in the middle of a class) should be kept open enough that someone can join in if they so wish to. Using another language gets rid of that potential.

It's not racist to ask students to shut up and listen to a class if they're being disruptive. Which they were.

mrsBtheparker Fri 14-Feb-20 14:18:09

I once worked in a school overseas where the teaching was in English but many of the pupils were bi-lingual and they would chat in their other language. What they didn't realise was that one doesn't necessarily have to understand the conversation to get the gist and early on I got annoyed with a group of chatterers and said 'Do not use that kind of language in my room!' They were gob-smacked, it was quite funny.

doritosdip Fri 14-Feb-20 14:19:02

If everyone was sat in pairs and chatting to the person next to them then A and B are not rude.

If A, B and C are sat at a 3 person table and everybody else is chatting on their 3 person table then I understand why C is angry

If A, B and C were chatting and A, B switch you their own language then it's obviously very rude

It depends if you're defining the group as the whole class or small groups sat at a table.

doritosdip Fri 14-Feb-20 14:20:04

If it's an English class then teacher should maybe make it a rule that everyone speaks English so that they can all improve

Rubyroost Fri 14-Feb-20 14:29:34

It's rude. I worked in a school with a high proportion of Polish people. They weren't allowed to speak in their own language in lessons. It worked well

kerryleigh Fri 14-Feb-20 14:34:03

I grew up with people speaking different native languages. The unwritten rule was that, when in a group, everybody speaks the language known by all. Now I leave in an English speaking country, I have co-national friends, we respect the same rule

FizzyIce Fri 14-Feb-20 14:37:48

If it was 3 of them in a group together and c was excluded while a and b spoke in their native language then they are being unfair .
If the chat was nothing to do with c as in they weren’t involved in the chat at all then c is being unfair

sashh Fri 14-Feb-20 14:38:07

Private conversation in the class is unacceptable regardless of language. It's difficult for the teacher if they don't know the language so don't know if anything derogatory is being said.

One caveat - if it is a deaf person and they are using a sign language, they don't have the option of hearing.

victoriashleigh Fri 14-Feb-20 14:40:42

Absolutely nothing wrong with having a chat in their native language, assuming there’s nothing bad-natured about it (deliberately excluding others, chatting away whilst everyone else is working in silence, etc.) Fiancé loves finding someone who speaks his language here and will often say “I’m going to speak Portuguese a bit now!”. Don’t mind anyway as I can understand but it’s nice for him. smile

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