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Thread: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

  1. #61
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Awwal12 View Post
    It seems you still have an accent despite your supposedly fine skills in other aspects of German. That may have such effects, which have psychological nature - even if you don't make mistakes (and if you do, the effect is cumulative).
    I absolutely don't dispute that I have an accent and I that I do make mistakes. That is no reason to automatically reply to me in English when I want to improve my German or any other language. How would anyone improve their knowledge of a language if native speakers refused to allow them to practise?
    Please do correct my text if needed! Thanks

  2. #62
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    That is no reason to automatically reply to me in English when I want to improve my German or any other language.
    You most likely should express your wish to speak German directly, even if it may sound impolite in some situations. Otherwise switching of interlocutors over to English is pretty probable. The reasons can be the next:
    - people don't like (either consciously or not) when you speak German;
    - people believe that the speech will be easier if they will speak ENglish (either for them only, or they also believe that they speak English better);
    - people don't want to tire you by making you speak German;
    ...and maybe several other possibilities.
    If you sometimes find my English incorrect or unnatural - you're really welcome to correct it! )

  3. #63
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Well I've done the tourist stuff and in Spain there's no point in the vast majority of cases asking for anything in Spanish. I have noticed however that the cleaners and other support staff who don't have to do a lot of the communication don't try and speak in English so when I have spoken to them it stays in Spanish (not that mine is that great but nevertheless suitable for some general chit chat).

    I've wondered whether I should have some clear Spanish fill in phrases ready to start any conversation off that aren't at the level of "Hola, que tal" for example. My guess is that when the staff hear this, they are assuming we're just trying to be polite and that's about the limit of what we can be bothered to learn and so in an effort to be helpful they change to English.

    The bad thing about it is that it gives the impression that my Spanish is so bad they can't understand any of it and it is off putting.
    Last edited by stevea; 24th October 2010 at 1:09 PM. Reason: Bad grammar

  4. #64
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Katejo View Post
    That is no reason to automatically reply to me in English when I want to improve my German or any other language.
    Do they really know that you speak German because you want to improve your skills?. Probably not, and they are trying to be polite. Or perhaps they want to improve their skill in a foreign language, too, like you. In any case it doesn't mean that they think your German is bad.

    If you go on speaking their language when they start to speak English, I suppose they will realise that you prefer to speak their language and they wil return to German. In other case, you can say it explicitly.

    Maybe I don't fully understand you because I can't speak fluently any foreign language

  5. #65
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tatzingo View Post
    Hello,

    Just a minor correction. The verb is 'to practise' with an S. Practice is the noun.

    Tatz.
    Adding to chuchuflete, also, if you think about the normal Englishy pronunciation (US/Brit), practice is the better spelling because wouldn't practise naturaly be pronounced practize?
    Last edited by Dr. Fumbles; 25th October 2010 at 9:42 AM.

  6. #66
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Fumbles View Post
    I know...they said.
    Sorry, guys, here’s my cleared/cleaned up version of what I originally wrote, and hopefully my original message won’t get deleted but again here’s a more condensed version:
    I know, I speak the Spanish dialect mixed up with the Mexican dialect. And that’s because that’s how I grew up speaking Spanish. Now, when I started my job as bilingual tech support, I used to wonder why after an entire call in castellano, a client would answer me in English. C’mon now, you can be serious, “acabamos de hablar completamente en castellano y me dices que vas a responderme en inglés. ¿No estamos para servirte en castellano? Well I found out that I ain’t the only one that happens to. So apparently, our clients realize that we’re bilingual. And, yes, it’s hard to understand the English calls to. For instance, I know I had three or four calls where I could barely make out what they were telling me. So, in this case, it’s more of a why do you answer me in English, when you already know I speak Spanish? In terms of the original question, yes as some said, it may just be that the service “rep” was trying to make things go smoothly. But in my case, WHY? That’s all I can ask. Entonces, ¿qué opina foro? What do you think forum?

  7. #67
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Ok, and this is my final opinon on the matter, here's what I'd do:
    If you learn another language and want the chance to practice that language, and we'll assume Spanish for native English speakers and vice versa for hablantes nativos de castellano.

    So, for you natives of English simply ask, ¿Puedes hablarme en castellano/español? Quiero/necesito (what ever you want to use) practicar mi castellano/español.

    You can even go so far as saying, Hablemos en inglés y castellano/español. Hablo en c/e y puedes hablar en inglés.

    So what do y'all think on this one?

    Y para los nativos de castellano podéis decir:
    Simplemente pedir: ¿Can you talk to me in English? I want/need to (lo que queréis usar) practice my English.

    Aun puedes llegar a decir: Let's speak in English and Spanish. I'll speak English and you can speak Spanish.

    Entonces, ¿qué pensáis en esto?

  8. #68
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Yo trabajo con mucha gente que habla ambos idiomas (aunque son todos argentinos) y más de una vez nos pasa que pasamos de un idioma al otro, muchas veces porque algunos conceptos los tenemos más incorporados en inglés o simplemente porque usar otro idioma le agrega alguna connotación a la conversación (humorística generalmente), pero nunca hay malos entendidos. Por eso en mi opinión el problema es que como la situación es de dos personas desconocidas entre si es dificil saber que idioma prefiere usar el otro, y eso si no tenemos en cuenta lo divertido que es hablar en otros idiomas, especialmente cuando uno tiene una base que desea pulir

    Creo que la mejor opción es siempre preguntar o aclarar si se quiere hablar en un idioma, o si no mezclarlos, que aunque a muchos les haga doler los oidos no me pueden negar que es un ejercicio genial para ir de un idioma al otro :P

  9. #69
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    People frequently switch languages with me for whatever reason. The last time was at an airline ticket window at an airport. We were speaking in French then all of a sudden the attendant switched to English. I didn't care because at that moment language was the least of my concern. Sometimes I do care especially when I have to work to understand them or when I think they want a free class. Even that only bothers me because I teach English and want a break from work... and quite honestly I can't turn off. If they make a mistake I correct them. Once in a while I make an exception. I do speak with a good friend in English because she asked me in such a nice way I couldn't refuse. But I don't want to speak English in shops, restaurants, etc. In general, usually by insisting in the language you want to speak the person will give in, also a nice request is usually not denied. But often you have to state your desire.

    I don't insist ever in Germany but do in Italy. My German is not up to snuff and I know it's work to try to understand me. Strangely enough people try speaking to me in French there.
    Catalunya is also particular. When I speak in Catalan people answer me in Spanish. It's so consistent that the first time I spent time there I didn't learn a thing and gave in always with no resistance. Now I insist with better results. At the very least I continue in Catalan, so at least I practice and they answer in Spanish. Really, bilingual conversations are not hard to get used to. If your goal is to attain a decent level in the language you simply must insist.

    But know it takes energy and nerve to start up in another language when a person has just gone on 3 minutes in fluent English, but in general they take the hint. At times you might want to give up and avoid the hassle

    Another option that can be used when both people are learning a language is to make a deal. I'll speak x language and you speak y language or we'll speak 15 minutes in one and 15 in another. It's a good compromise but not really effective when one person is fluent and the other a beginner. That's also a nice way to make friends too. They'll often introduce you later to friends of theirs who have no desire to speak English. Also in my experience groups of people are great ways to practice languages. Put 3 Spaniards, Frenchmen, Germans etc. together and even if they speak fluent English, the language you end up using together is their common language.

    In the United States I usually speak to anyone in English and let them know I could switch to their language, like Spanish, with no problem. I think it's different because many of them are immigrants and want to integrate American society. So perhaps speaking in Spanish reminds them they might not have reached that point and they might take it as an insult. Their opposition could be something like... yes, yes, I really can do it honestly... But if I don't want Italians speaking to me in English in Milan, it's the same courtesy to speak English to hispanics in New York or Chicago, that is if it's their decision I honor it.

    So my advice is to ask politely and insist if you really want to speak in any given language. More often than not it's not about you or your linguistic lacunes, but all about them. Other times, it might not even be about language skills at all. I'm about as Anglo-saxon looking as you can get. It can cast me as a tourist even if I've spent years living in Paris.

    There is another choice though that an American I know does. He starts speaking in a strong Appalachian dialect no one can understand and quite quickly they drop English.
    Life is not a dress rehearsal.

  10. #70
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Mira, desde mi punto de vista, en realidad es un fenómeno no sucede solo entre hispanohablantes. A mí me hacían lo mismo en Alemania continuamente. Me esforzaba por hablar en alemán, pero los asistentes de las tiendas, establecimientos etc. en cuanto notaban mi acento o que era extranjera, pasaban automáticamente al inglés. Sé cómo te sientes, yo también tenía la sensación de que me estaban infravalorando y de hecho, una vez me timaron en la oficina de correos por eso.
    Llegué a la oficina de correos con una caja que ya había comprado allí y con el contenido para enviarla a España. El dependiente me preguntó en alemán si ya había pagado la caja; le respondí en alemán que sí. Pero en el momento en que le dije que mandaba la caja a España, asumió directamente que no había entendido su pregunta anterior y el pobre hombre empezó a hablarme en español -un español francamente malo; ni siquiera le entendí -y al final ¡Me cobró la caja que ya había pagado!
    Son malentendidos de la comunicación. En realidad, yo sé que el hombre no tenía mala intención cuando hizo la intentona de hablarme con las cuatro palabras que sabía de mi lengua materna, que solo quería ponerme las cosas más fáciles.
    Normalmente solo se pretende facilitar la comunicación (aunque a veces sea un rotundo fracaso, está claro). También puede ser porque alguien para practicar su inglés/español o lo que sea. Por ejemplo, el otro día estuve haciendo un trabajo con una compañera canadiense que está de intercambio en mi universidad. Hablamos en español prácticamente toda la tarde; para empezar porque es para eso para lo que ella está aquí, pero hubo un ratito justo antes de que se fuera a casa en que hablé en inglés para practicar un poco. De todas maneras, ella me contestó en español
    El cielo está enladrillado ¿Quién lo desenladrillará?

  11. #71
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    My experiences, for what they're worth.
    Traveling extensively in Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, I speak (fluent) Spanish to everyone. I am replied to in English in hotels, whereas in other places, shops, markets etc., local people speak to me in Spanish, however surprised they may be by a blonde, blue-eyed woman speaking their native language. When I travel with my Spanish husband it becomes even more confusing as in the hotels they speak to him, too, in English. (There are some funny anecdotes, but this isn't the time or the place)
    I understand that people whose work brings them continuously into contact with English speakers (who speak no other language), are trained to address everyone in that language, but I particularly remember in a wonderful hotel in Todos los Santos, Baja California, after 3 days there, no way would anyone answer me in Spanish. I asked them why, and they said that I looked too American.
    Whatever, I'm rambling on. Interesting thread.
    Saludos
    plus ça change..

  12. #72
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    In some parts of the world, language is correlated to looks. So, no matter how well you speak the language that does not correspond to your looks (at least what people there perceive that to be), many people will feel that you don't speak their language. You will really, really have to try to convince them: possibly shocking them somehow.

    Also, if you are an English speaker, in many places, it may be almost impossible to become proficient in the local language unless you do something drastic, like absolutely refusing to respond in English--which requires a very, very hard-headed attitude. Especially in more urban or touristy environments, a lot of people just won't give you the chance to speak their language. One way to get around this hurddle would be to already reach a really high level of proficiency--be pretty advanced with a very good accent.

  13. #73
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippa View Post
    Hi there folks!

    • I don't think this happened to me once in México, and I was in touristy areas with people who probably mostly spoke at least some English. Is it that the mexicanos wanted to be nice and stick to the language I had started in? Is it that españoles are really keen to practise their English?
    • I'm sure my accent gives me away as being foreign straightaway, but it isn't absolutely dreadful (I hope) - at least one (quite important!!) forero has commented that my accent in Spanish is okay. What are the other pitfalls to avoid to stop people switching back to English, do you think? It isn't always possible to avoid asking for something to be said again, I did this once (pride!!) and then I had to confess to my Spanish class that I wasn't really sure what time we could check in to our hotel in Madrid!!
    • If you work with tourists, how do you approach this situation?
    Any other thoughts or experiences welcome, Spanish/English or otherwise.
    Saludos castellanos
    Philippa
    As I was reading your post I was thinking obout the same you were writing, I think mexicans were kind and let you speak in spanish, I have the feeling that most of mexicans feel good (and some times proud) when foreign people (no native spanish speaker) is speakin in spanish, at least when I hear a no native spanish speaker he/she calls my atenttion immediately.

    I also think people want to make sure you got the information as clear as posibble I think that is the reason why they switched from english to spanish I remember myself in the airport being in canada I wanted to speak in english but the air hostless as soon as she looked at the color of my skin (brunette) she started the conversation in spanish and I wanted it to be in english but at the time I wasn´t sure of my english speaking to dare switching language, I guess she wanted to convey all the information in the easiest and fastest way due to her job, she also has to deal with other clients I guess.
    Don't hesitate to correct me.

  14. #74
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Soy descendente de japoneses y vivo como un brasileño sencillo, hablando portugués en mi casa, con mi família. Cuando estuve en Japón, algo espantoso se pasó: le hé preguntado a una chica que passaba por la calle dónde se quedaba el correo, en japonés, tal vez, sufrible. Ella me miró espantada, abrió los ojos tan grandes e se puso a correr Creo que sea porque me parezco japonés en la fisionomía, pero en la fluencia... por suerte el correo no se quedaba lejos de allí. Pués tienes suerte si la otra persona te contesta a tú en inglés, por lo menos!

    I am a Japanese descent born in Brazil, and, as such, I speak Portuguese at home, with my family. When I was in Japan, something striking happened: I asked this girl on the street about the nearby post office in a not-so-good Japanese, I believe. She stared at me with her eyes wide open and just in a blink of an eye fled away I believe that was because of my having a Japanese look but no fluency in the language... luckily the post office was not far away from there. You're lucky that the counterpart can answer you at least in English!

    日系ブラジル人ですが、やはりブラジル人ですので、うちではポルトガル語ばかり話していていました。日本に留学していた際、目立つぐらい条件がありました。郵便局へ行きたかったんですが、行き先あまりよく分からなかったので、歩行者に伺ったほうがいいと思って、あるお姉さんに聞きますと、お姉さんがびっくりしてあっという間に逃げ出してしまいましたが、それはどうしてかと思い切って、たぶん僕が日本人に見えても、日本語が 苦手だからだと思いました。ようやく郵便局はそこから便利でありましたので、よかったです。とにかく人にスペイン語ではなく、英語でも答えられることくらいはいいではありませんか?
    Last edited by uchi.m; 24th December 2010 at 2:05 AM.

  15. #75
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Today a weird thing happened, I talked to a random girl from France on MSN.
    And after 30 minutes or so of our chat she asked me:
    ''Do you speak French or you're just using Google translator''

    I asked her why?
    She responded ''you sound so formal''

    Next time I will make sure I speak English to French people.
    You can never go wrong with the magic expression: ''In English please!''

  16. #76
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    My brothers and I run a hostel in our hometown of Ushuaia. I'm glad to speak Spanish to guests who want to practise theirs... as long as it doesn't keep me from doing my job properly: when a bus arrives and I have a line of seven hungry, exhausted, money-paying customers in desperate need of a shower waiting to check in, I am by no means going to make their wait longer because someone whose Spanish is worse than my English wants to improve their language skills. Our business is hospitality, not language-teaching!

    Of course, I've spent many an afternoon speaking in Spanish with guests who were less than proficient, and will continue to do so as long as I don't have anything else to do at the time. The ones with acceptable Spanish get to choose every time: again, our business is hospitality... and it's not like me to pass by a chance to spread our sweet castellano rioplatense!
    Pugliese, Pugliese, Pugliese

  17. #77
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ushuaia View Post
    My brothers and I run a hostel in our hometown of Ushuaia. I'm glad to speak Spanish to guests who want to practise theirs... as long as it doesn't keep me from doing my job properly: when a bus arrives and I have a line of seven hungry, exhausted, money-paying customers in desperate need of a shower waiting to check in, I am by no means going to make their wait longer because someone whose Spanish is worse than my English wants to improve their language skills. Our business is hospitality, not language-teaching!

    Of course, I've spent many an afternoon speaking in Spanish with guests who were less than proficient, and will continue to do so as long as I don't have anything else to do at the time. The ones with acceptable Spanish get to choose every time: again, our business is hospitality... and it's not like me to pass by a chance to spread our sweet castellano rioplatense!
    Of course I agree with all that, but Ushuaia, te ruego que cuando vengan personas hispanoparlantes, ¡les hables en español! Ya he explicado en otros hilos mi frustración en viajes a centro-sud-américa donde nadie me responde a mi "buen" castellano si no es en inglés-spanglish o lo que sea. Lo siento, pero me da una rabia
    plus ça change..

  18. #78
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by bondia View Post
    Of course I agree with all that, but Ushuaia, te ruego que cuando vengan personas hispanoparlantes, ¡les hables en español! Ya he explicado en otros hilos mi frustración en viajes a centro-sud-américa donde nadie me responde a mi "buen" castellano si no es en inglés-spanglish o lo que sea. Lo siento, pero me da una rabia
    ¡Pero más vale! Siempre empiezo en castellano y sólo cambio de idioma si está claro que no vamos ni para atrás ni para adelante (en muchos casos, te juro, basta con "hola, ¿tienen reserva?" para que me miren como pidiendo piedad).
    Pugliese, Pugliese, Pugliese

  19. #79
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ushuaia View Post
    ¡Pero más vale! Siempre empiezo en castellano y sólo cambio de idioma si está claro que no vamos ni para atrás ni para adelante (en muchos casos, te juro, basta con "hola, ¿tienen reserva?" para que me miren como pidiendo piedad).

    Que vaya por delante que entiendo tu opinión, pero, no todas las personas te miran como pidiendo piedad. Yo he viajado mucho y repito, (qué pesada soy) que en muchos lugares hispanoparlantes no me han permitido comunicarme en castellano, y mira, me molesta mucho, me da rabia, me da un no sé qué, que más vale que me callo. Pero creo que entiendes lo que quiero decir..
    plus ça change..

  20. #80
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    Re: What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

    Entiendo: a mí y a mi muy morocho marido nos daba la misma bronca cuando nos decían "gringos" en algunos barrios de Río de Janeiro (¡y yo ni siquiera soy rubia!).

    Muchas veces la gente usa esas defensas para que quede clara la diferencia cultural; el turismo es, además de una fuente de ingresos, una industria muy invasiva... ¡está estudiado! Hay etapas en la relación entre quienes viven del turismo/en lugares turísticos y los turistas, y una de las más avanzadas es un odio visceral que puede traducirse en actitudes del tipo "te grito gringa por la calle", o "practico mi inglés aunque no te guste". Ojo, no creo que este sea siempre el caso. Como se mencionó varias veces en este hilo, hay gente que lo hará con la mejor intención, y sin tener en cuenta que no hay comedido que salga bien.

    Que el bienestar de otros seres humanos sea tu trabajo es siempre muy rico, pero también agotador. ¡Y somos, se sabe, una especie difícil!
    Pugliese, Pugliese, Pugliese

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