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What would you do?


Senior Member
I work in a small private school, with about 15 teachers on staff. Six teachers (myself included) are together during our grade-level lunch period. Two teachers have lived in Columbia, and the other teaches Spanish. My teaching partner and I both feel terribly uncomfortable when the three of them converse in Spanish during lunch. They will switch back and forth (which I know is a very easy thing to do for some people), but they will have entire conversations in Spanish. English is their first language. The rest of us talk amongst ourselves since we obviously cannot join in their conversations. We feel it is rude.

How would you go about broaching the subject? This is a touchy one, and I'm not sure what to do about it.:confused:
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Senior Member
First, I think I'd make a joke out of it. Laughingly ask them why they are so secretive with their conversation. If that doesn't help, I think I would leave the situation alone because it's not worth arguing over.


Senior Member

Honestly they probably don't mean anything by it. It's probably comforting to have someone to talk to in Spanish if they're from Columbia (at least 2 of them). You can either ask them to teach you a few words, or just ignore their conversations and stick to your own with the other teachers. I really doubt they're being mean-spirited about it, but you could make a joke like the other poster said - that would get your point across without being confrontational.

speak up

speak up

There is no easy polite way to tell people that they are being rude.
You need to speak up and tell them how you feel. You can be nice about it as 'I'm sure you do not realize but--' However, you need to tell them that you feel excluded when they are speaking Spanish in a conversation in the teachers' lunch room.

Sometimes speakers of other languages in these situations do not understand how the nonspeakers feel. They feel that since you are not in the conversation talking another language is ok. However, if it were a language they did not understand they might feel differently.
Case in point, my sister in law. I married into a family that came from another country. All of the children spoke good English but conversed in German at home. Sister in law one day complained that some people at work were upset that she and her friends spoke German at lunch. Why were they upset she wondered. No one was talking about them. It was a private conversation.
Fast forward a few years and the company has hired some new workers. One day sister in law complains that the new hires at work all speak Finnish at lunch and she and her friends feel excluded.
Husband and I just look at each other. Sister in law does not realize the irony of the situation.