I am doing another intensive course in Russia, staying with a family in a home-stay environment organised by the school. The family is very good but the problem is the daughter speaks fluent English.
This means we often fall into the trap of speaking in English especially if something is a really interesting cultural topic where I want to know all the details. It is not the daughter’s fault but more mine for wanting to know everything. Some things are then easier explained in English.
Has anyone had that problem before and do you recognize it is hard to stick at it. Any tips?
Well, I’d say this is an easy one: if the person in question knows all about you (i.e. they know why you’re there and what you’re trying to achieve in a limited time) then you can easily and politely explain that you NEED to talk in Russian - and then darned well stick to it! You might add that you are really impressed by their English, would normally love to speak English, etc, etc.
If the person continues pressing English after repeatedly being asked not to, then don’t be afraid to get up, make an excuse, and leave the room! Avoid the person! Be really pointed if necessary - you’re the one who is paying here, so why should you give people free English conversational lessons? It makes no sense.
It’s actually much more difficult when it comes to people who don’t “know” you (folks in shops, etc) because it might seem to them that they are actually being nice and helpful by coming at you in English! And as a rule you simply don’t have time in this context to explain the situation…
I just re-read your post and noticed you say that it isn’t the person’s fault…well okay…then it must be your OWN fault, right!? I mean, if you’re not truly passionate about speaking Russian then what are you actually doing over there? :-0
JayB - thanks for your response. The problem is I am also interested in cultural aspects. For me it is not just language, it is also about society, value, hot topics. Sometimes this is easier to explain in English. Of course it is my own fault, but seriously I think a lot of people would fall into this trap too, and maybe you are just exceptional :- and can stick to this two weeks solid )
Two weeks solid? Oh boy, when I was an exchange student in Germany I did a whole darned year solid! (pretty much literally!!)
But yeah, I was a real language hardcore back in those days!
Of course it’s absolutely fine if you are relaxed about speaking English with your host family - each to his own.
I have also been an exchange student in several different countries. To me that was easier as this was for long periods of time. Student life is alo more flexible.
I am working full-time and am fitting this into a two-week leave. Would it be fair to say that that is a different situation?
This is not a holiday though.
Make your mind/will power strong! Everything will fall into its right place! I know my answer may sound bizarre but I firmly believe that great things are achieved in one’s mind.
Thank you so much jayB for your answer and Marianne. Actually I’m struggling quite a lot here in Finland with Finns speaking with me in English and others trying to practice their Spanish. I find a bit difficult sometimes to be very pointed.
I agree with Asad100101. You have to be quite strong willed. You have to let people know that you are 100% serious about learning Finnish. You have to be stubbornly determined to do so. If you don’t do this then (especially in a country like Finland where everyone speaks English to at least level B2) you wont have a dog’s chance in hell of becoming fluent in Finnish!
Of course, you don’t need to be grossly rude to anyone. If anything it is other folks who are being pretty selfish and unhelpful by pressing you to speak English when they know that you have a limited time to learn Finnish; under these circumstances avoiding and ignoring people isn’t at all rude, IMO.
In my experience it is fewer than 1 person in 50 who will, in actual fact, completely disregard a polite request to stop speaking English. (And the chances are good that these people are selfish a**holes that are much better avoided in any language.)
Oh dear, thank you so much your suggestions are so valuable for me. Asad that is what I have to work on: Make my mind/will power strong…! You guys understand how it feels. JayB I like your approach! You know I will write it down in my note book.