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Trying Out My New Language in Public

 

Questions about culture and cultural differences between countries and languages.


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  #1  
Old December 28, 2015, 01:42 PM
protojoe protojoe is offline
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Trying Out My New Language in Public

First, may I say that the "sticky" threads on this forum are pretty amazing. As are some of the very comprehensive posts and responses to questions. Those of you that take the time to respond to questions in that way are very much appreciated.

I live and work around people who have Spanish as their native language. I would like to attempt to converse with them (people I don't know personally) in Spanish but don't want to be rude or offensive.

First, would it be offensive if I tried to speak to them in Spanish when they are obviously very fluent in English? If so, how is the best way to approach them? I was thinking of something like (in English) "Pardon, would you mind if I tried to speak with you in Spanish?"

Thanks,

Joe
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  #2  
Old December 28, 2015, 03:07 PM
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Rusty Rusty is offline
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I don't think anyone would be offended if you wanted to speak to them in Spanish, but if you don't know them, you need to introduce yourself first. This introductory conversation should be held in English, since they are very comfortable using English.

After they know who you are, you can add that you're very interested in trying to learn Spanish and would appreciate the opportunity to speak to them in their native tongue.
(You can use the sentence you proposed, without the interjection.)

If they are very fluent in English, some will allow occasional questions in Spanish, but will not necessarily respond in Spanish. If this happens, you won't get the ear training you need and may want to seek out other individuals that are more accommodating.

If they are willing to take the time to engage in Spanish conversation, you should realize that most native speakers will not correct your Spanish unless you specifically ask for correction. Even then, most will tire of making corrections all the time.
Some will not be willing to correct your mistakes. If you'd like that, seek out someone that would be more accommodating.

If you find someone that will correct your mistakes, they will most likely not know why things are said the way they are. For those types of questions, I suggest you use these forums.

Happy hunting (for the right mix of Hispanic friends and acquaintances)!
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Old December 28, 2015, 05:51 PM
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I think the unspoken rule is the language that is best understood between the two speakers becomes the lingua franca. A Puerto Rican friend of mine always speaks to me in English except on occasion because her English is better than my Spanish. A Peruvian friend usually converses with me in Spanish because my Spanish is better than his English. As Rusty writes, this may be overridden if you state that you have a genuine interest in learning Spanish.
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