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Do you speak your native language freely when you are visiting foreign countries? Sometimes in the bus, in the train or on the street I see many people from different countries. When they speak their native language they try to whisper or speak English somehow ... Now I think...why? What's wrong with speaking in comfortable for you language. ..

What do you feel when you hear a foreign speech in your country?  Are you afraid to speak your native language when you are travelling?
Apr 5, 2018 8:09 PM
Comments · 10
Hello Sarah.
When I'm abroad with my family we always speak Polish of course and it's the same when we meet other tourists from our country. Of course we try not to be loud... Unfortunately it happened a few times that when the shop assistant heard our Slavic voices became less polite or even started to control our every move until we left the shop (maybe she had some unpleasant experiences).
Once in Barcelona we met young Russian couple with little girl in the cable car above the port. Later we have visited beautiful cactus garden on the Montjüic hill. Walking back we met the same family and tried to tell them about the garden and that their daughter would like it. They looked so frightened... I think that sometimes people just forget that someone can understand them in a foreign country. 
It is hard to hear any foreign language in my town. But for example in Cracow which is not far from me... I went there for a short walk one evening last autumn - on the main square almost entirely Spanish, in the rest of the old town - Italian, at the river bank - English and occasionally Hebrew when walking closer to the old Jewish part. I think that nobody cares what language are the others speaking. Like in all major tourist destinations. 
Of course when you are somewhere in suburbs and see a group of drunk men in sportswear having clean shaved heads - it's better not to speak and try to be invisible. But it may happen everywhere. 
April 5, 2018
Yea, I speak. Not, I'm not afraid. Because I am travelling trough Czech Republic, Serbia, Germany etc. How can I speak in their native language? =)
April 5, 2018
Sarah, yes.
I also hear Spanish and even Arabic and some African languages in public transportation around me, because there is a university not far from me. Those people who switch to English, do they come form a particular country/cultrue? I think it is somehow clear for you that they aren't native English speakers...

I guess, people who might be afraid to speak their native lnagauges here are Uzbek and other Central Asian people (but they wouldn't use English:)). Or people form Russian Caucasus republics. No one will be annoyed if you speak French. I imagine that in China they also don't surround people speaking Tibetan or Uyghur languages offering langauge exchange and free tour in the city. (which would be really nice and would much improve things)

As for other countries, I heard such things about Germany: that there are some people who don't like foreigners speaking other languages. When my freind lived there, an old man chided her for not teaching her kids better German (they were there for a few months and kids already spoke it). but that was just one old idiot man.

"I do know that ignorant people really get thrown off and uncomfortable, to the point of becoming aggressive"
Sergio, wish I knew why.
I thought, when you are listening to others' conversation in transport you are expected to hide that fact:)

April 5, 2018

I wouldn't say that I am afraid to speak Russian when I am travelling abroad. The reason why I speak English is that I need more practice. It would be foolish to speak English to the people on the street in my country, wouldn't it? I think that it is a good opportunity to start working on your speaking skills while travelling. It is very difficult to bring yourself to practice English when you are constantly tempted to switch back to your native language whereas being surrounded by foreigners it is much easier.

Sometimes people don't want to reveal their country of origin because they are going to avoid bias towards their countries or languages as Marcin put it. I also can't agree more with Lian that people could simply be introverted and thus don't want to attract attention. And finally, it could be the expression of the intelligence and good manners. Personally, I don't like when people are shouting discussing their problems as if everybody in a bus is their family. And I am speaking about my language, not to mention the language that I can't understand, therefore, strangers in most cases just want to be polite speaking in English assuming that it is an international language which everybody is supposed to understand.        

April 6, 2018

Interesting observation. I do this as well, but I also do this in my own country. I just don't like to be loud, and possibly overbearing, in public. Anywhere.

Another reason might be is that foreigners attract attention, and some people don't like the attention? They are shy and introverted maybe?

April 6, 2018
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