To start off this post, I wanted to cite something that I received from Katie of the Joy of Languages, in her e-mail newsletter, she talked about the 3 most common problems language learners face, and how to overcome them. The first one caught my attention:
You keep getting Englished
You try to speak the language. They reply in English.
Getting "Englished" is one of the biggest gripes for language learners.
I secretly love the term that Katie came up with, "Englished". It reminds me of a time that my Californian friend and I made up the concept of "The English Stare". The English Stare is when people stare at you on trains, planes, buses, stores, every public arena, because they hear you speaking English. Not sure if this is the same for other languages (please let me know if you've experienced the same stare while speaking in French, for example). The context to use this terminology would be something like "Don't look to your left, I think we're getting The English Stare".
What can you do about it? There's honestly not much I can say about how to deal with The English Stare other than ignore or be completely bold and just give them the "crazy eyes" c/o Suzanne on Orange is the New Black (if you're not visualizing what this should look like, Google it). That usually does the trick and they'll stop staring at you.
Dealing with getting spoken to in English while living abroad is another issue. I've written some commentary on this in a previous post titled: My Biggest Language-Related Pet Peeve: When Locals Switch to English, so definitely read that if you haven't yet. Here's my two cents: in my personal opinion, I think that first off, you have to get to a level in your target language where you are not holding back a conversation to an extreme excess. By this, I mean you need to be able to put together sentences and articulate basic ideas, I'm not saying anything complex. The "ideal situation" is that your language skills are "on par" with your speaking partner's English skills. This is the hard part since so many people speak English well so perhaps you're thinking you'll never be at that same level. But I don't think you need to have this ideal situation that I just outlined, I think you can be at a lower level of language ability but still carry the conversation. To do this successfully, you need to apply the age-old drinking rule of "don't break the seal" to your speaking. In case you live under a rock, we say don't "break the seal" when you're out drinking which means, hold off on peeing for as long as humanely possible without risking a kidney stone.
How does this apply to not getting Englished you ask? Here's the answer:
Do not succumb to speaking more than the word(s) you don't know in English. Don't do it! You need to keep the conversation flowing and when you're stuck or need a word, you ask it in the language you are speaking, NOT ENGLISH.
This is where those all-important phrases that they teach you in language classes come in like: How do you say ______ in Italian? What does _______ mean? One moment, let me think, etc.
Here are just a few examples from Cher of The Iceberg Project (specifically for learners of Italian):
— Non mi viene (la parola). – The word isn’t coming to me.
— Non mi viene in mente. – It’s not coming to mind.
— Ce l’ho sulla punta della lingua. – It’s on the tip of my tongue.
— Un attimo. Fammi pensare. – One moment. Let me think.
— Ho perso il filo (del discorso). – I lost the thread. (I lost my train of thought.)
To read her entire article on 13 Expressions to Keep Conversation Flowing in Italian When You Forget a Word, a Phrase or a Conjugation, click the PIN below or else PIN it to read later!
What's your experience been with people speaking English to you in countries where you're living or trying to learn the native language? Do you have specific tactics you use to avoid being spoken to in English (or your mothertongue)? Let me know below. If you want to watch videos of me speaking Italian, make sure to follow the blog Facebook page: www.facebook.com/questadolcevitablog.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at these ones:
What I'm Really Thinking While Speaking Italian as a Second Language
Taking Risks in Language Learning
The Gift of Language: Italian and Beyond
The Neverending Story of Learning Italian
Living in Italy, Speaking in English
How to Keep Learning Italian in Italy
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