Is it rude to converse with my child in my native language in public?

I found myself pondering this question during our family vacation a couple weeks ago!

We spent a week and a half in California, visiting a few National Parks and spending time with my brother and his family! 

We speak a mix of Gujarati and English to our kids at home, and did the same during our trip. When we were surrounded by other people, I initially felt awkward speaking in Gujarati with them and I switched to English. But then I realized that it was important for my kids to see me use our native language in front of others to show them that it’s perfectly fine to speak Gujarati outside of our home, and it is not something to hide or feel ashamed of.

I know many of us struggle with this question and wonder whether it is rude or disrespectful to speak in another language in public or around others. Since I'm not an expert, I opened this topic up to our followers on Instagram recently.

Here's what they had to say:

Do you feel comfortable conversing with your child in your mother tongue when you are around others?

A majority of the voters (85%) were comfortable conversing in another language when outdoors. Many said they were proud of conversing in their mother tongue and did it all the time! 

A lot of our followers said that when they were outdoors, they spoke to each other normally (as they would at home).

One person even shared that they had befriended strangers, as they recognized others speaking the same language as they did.

    In what situations do you switch to English?

    Most people suggested that if they were in a group setting where others didn't speak the same language, they spoke in English, so that everyone was included or they didn't let anyone feel left out.

    An interesting situation that a follower mentioned: they spoke in English when a child was misbehaving or throwing a tantrum, so that people around them were aware of the situation. 

    Have you had any challenges or negative experiences when speaking another language in public?

    Most people said they hadn't experienced any challenges when speaking their language outdoors. They actually found that strangers were generally curious about what language their family spoke and admired the fact that they could speak multiple languages.

     

    Generally, it is not rude to converse in another language in public, as long as you are mindful to switch to English when you are in a group setting and are not using it to gossip about others.

    I understand some of you may not be comfortable doing this just yet, but I hope this post gives you more confidence in speaking your native language outdoors with your family! As you can see from everyone who shared their experiences with me, it's generally been positive!  

     

    What about you? Do you feel comfortable speaking to your child in your native language in public? Have you faced any challenges? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

     

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