How to overcome locals replying in English when traveling as a native English-speaker
- 1. ‘Stubborn until prevail’ strategy
- 2. ‘Appreciate but insist’ strategy
- 3. ‘Denial of nationality’ strategy
- My Personal Approach
- 1. Focus on communication & building genuine relationships
- 2. Avoid those looking for ‘free’ English lessons
- 3. Don’t over-insist on using the local language
- Presentation at the 2015 Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, Germany
1. ‘Stubborn until prevail’ strategy
Start with the target language and simply stick to the target language no matter what. For example, you enter a shop and ask for something in the target language and keep speaking the local language no matter how often the locals reply in English.
2. ‘Appreciate but insist’ strategy
Here, you employ a polite but firm approach saying something along the lines of “I appreciate you speaking English to help me. Thanks! I am here to learn your language and want to improve. If you could speak to me in X, then it would be a huge help to me.”
3. ‘Denial of nationality’ strategy
Say you are from another country and don’t know English. Always best to pick somewhere obscure!
My Personal Approach
My Personal Approach centers on three principles:
1. Focus on communication & building genuine relationships
Those who are really interested in spending social time with you will ultimately switch between the different languages depending on the social context.
2. Avoid those looking for ‘free’ English lessons
In many parts of the world, learning English can be a huge asset for a non-native speaker to learn to improve their employment opportunities so there is always a risk that someone may befriend you with the objective of having free English lessons. I advise to stay clear of such people as they are not genuinely interested in you only in having a free English teacher. Usually you can tell who such people are.
3. Don’t over-insist on using the local language
If you do then you are the one who is just looking for ‘free’ local language lessons which is not a good strategy for long-term learning. I believe that genuinely living through the languages is much more enjoyable and effective.
Presentation at the 2015 Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, Germany
If you want more tips about how overcome this problem then watch the video (from the Polyglot Gathering 2014 in Berlin) where I cover the tactics that can be employed for such situations like living abroad, traveling and staying in your home country.