(Closed) Asking Asian in-laws to speak in English around me

posted 8 years ago in Relationships
  • poll: What should I do about in-laws who say bad things about me in another language right in front of me?
    Ask them nicely to speak English so I can understand : (37 votes)
    70 %
    Do nothing, so I don't cause any trouble with my in-laws : (10 votes)
    19 %
    I have a better idea and I'll comment : (6 votes)
    11 %
  • Post # 3
    Member
    2394 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: April 2010

    And I don’t think it’s rude at all, particularly not the way you phrased it.  Have you spoken about this with your husband?  It may be that the request would have more impact coming from him than from you.

    Post # 4
    Member
    1927 posts
    Buzzing bee

    I don’t think it’s out of line at all for you to ask them to speak in English around you.  It seems like they are doing it knowingly since they are talking ABOUT you and your Mother-In-Law made a point of telling you that.  However, I also think they would take it as a really nice gesture if you made an effort to learn some of the basics of their language so you can begin to particpate.  I bet your husband would love to help teach you and then you are making an effort to be more involved instead of only asking them to accommodate you.

    Post # 5
    Member
    572 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: December 1969

    I don’t think it is rude at all to ask them to speak English…I think that them not speaking in English around you when they know it, is rude.

    I think I would do a combo of asking them to speak English and trying to learn Tagalog that way when they do say something bad about you in that language you can have a come back and be like “BAM!” and catch them out of left field.

    Post # 6
    Member
    2703 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    @FreeRangeMom: being asian, i can see your hesistance in saying anything to your in-laws/extended family. they take any sort of “feedback” no matter how polite as rude. especially from anyone younger. instead of directly saying something, id approach them and try to spark conversation first. and also relay the message via your Darling Husband to his family.

    good luck and i promise, they dont mean anything by it — even when they make their judgmental comments such as the one you mentioned above — asian women just tend to blunt with their words without thinking of what their words imply! they usually dont think twice about it afterwards.

    Post # 7
    Member
    1184 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2011

    i don’t think it’s rude at all to request that they speak english, especially in the very polite way that you phrased it above. clearly they’re the rude ones here. since you have been married for a couple years already, i think you should be able to make the request and not your husband…it seems more premeditated if you have your husband speak to his family, while if you say it at a time when they are all speaking tagalog, it comes off more as “i’d really love to join your conversation right now” rather then “you always do this and make me uncomfortable”

    Post # 8
    Member
    1391 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    @teaadntoast: agreed.

    It may come off as snobby if you say it to them. Usually I am all for telling people yourself, but maybe it will have less of a “sting” if he says something like “Wife gets a little bummed when she can’t participate in conversations with you all when you revert back to Tagalog. Can you try and remember to speak English around her.” Or something like that. It might also be cool if she could teach you some Tagalog!

    Post # 9
    Member
    5496 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: April 2010

    When I got married in India last year (hubby is Indian), his family spoke in English about half the time around me. So half the time I had no clue what was going on. (Can’t blame them since they don’t use English much at all in their daily lives and I hadn’t spent time learning Hindi to make an effort to speak their language). Anyway, I was uncomfortable because there were times when they would talk about me in Hindi while looking at me. Now, they were saying nice things (I think!!?!!!!) because they were smiling and such, but it still made me feel strange, not knowing what they were saying about me!

    I need to really get going on this learning Hindi, so as to avoid this in the future. I think you should try to learn some Tagalog, but I also don’t think that’s right that they were speaking negatively in front of you, KNOWING you don’t know the language. I would definately tell your husband and see if HE can say something. I agree that it will have more impact coming from him. Or, next time (hopefully there isn’t a next time!), you can say on the spot, “I’d appreciate you speaking in English, as I can’t understand you” or something like that…just out of curiousity, do you have a good relationship with your MIL? I think that’s rude that she said that to you.

    Sorry about all this! I totally get the cultural and language differences thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

     

    Post # 10
    Member
    966 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    Or maybe you could try to learn Tagalog?  

    I agree with Missfireslayer – it’d probably be better coming from your husband.

    Post # 11
    Member
    739 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: August 2009

    I agree that it might be best for you to learn Tagalog.  Even though they speak English, they are probably most comfortable speaking their native language.  I’m guessing that they probably enjoy having the freedom to do that in family situations.  Why should they change that because of you?  Perhaps you could be the one to make the effort to speak their language.

    Post # 12
    Member
    14661 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2011

    I’m Asian and Fiance doesnt speak my family native language either.  We’ve had this conversation so many times.  He would really like it if i spoke English to my family (those that understand it at least), but its VERY difficult to change your behavior.  The automatic instinct is to speak the native language, and its almost weird to speak english to people you never speak English to.  Learning a new language is by no means easy either, and could take years to become converstaional.  Also, Asians are just plain blunt… english your otherwise, they will say what’s on their mind, so don’t take it too personally.  It may have been rude to talk about you with you sitting right there, but what they said would have been said no matter what.  Another thing is that they may not even think to include you in the conversation if they are just talking about stuff that they think doesnt really have to do with you (even if its about you) cause it just their chatty gossip time.  Sorry I dont have much advice on what to do, but just other ways of looking at the situation since I’m on the reverse end of it.

    Post # 13
    Member
    3 posts
    Wannabee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    My Fiance is american and I’m asian, so I kind of understand what you’re going through. Fortunately I am fluent so I help translate (I sometimes forget that I’m not speaking English – it’s 2nd nature!) I would ask his parents to speak in English when they’re around you. If they continue to speak in Tagalog, ask questions to join in. Tell them that you’re interested in the conversation when they switch to Tagalog. (Be nice, obv! ๐Ÿ™‚ )  They’re going to forget and go back, but remind them that you want to be a part of the family too.

    My Fiance and I have been together for over 5yrs, and he’s already picking up on the language just by knowing our gestures, etc. ๐Ÿ™‚ It may be helpful to learn a few phrases (there are a few free websites online that can help w/ pronunciation) to show that you are interested in their culture. PLUS! If you know they’re talking (bad) about you, then you can always respond with some phrase that you learned (then they’ll shut up quick!) Ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!!

    Post # 14
    Member
    1285 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    I know exactly what you mean! My Fiance is first generation Chinese. His parents are fluent in English and speak it around me, but frequently revert back to Cantonese when it is a “family discussion”. They also revert to Cantonese around other Cantonese speakers. I’ve made if very well known to my Fiance that the expectation is that he either talk to me (I once spent a 4 hour lunch not talking to anyone because Fiance was being monopolized by another family member about work and everyone else was speaking cantonese, I can see 1-2 hours, but FOUR!!! Unacceptable) or translate. I don’t request the parents change because as @missjyc: said, it is rude to “suggest” behavior changes (in talking about the rehearsal dinner and how many people to invite, I advised the number of out of town guests my family would invite and my head was bitten off at the assumption I could invite anyone).

    Post # 15
    Member
    200 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2011

    I have to preface this by saying I am not Filipino, however my best friend for years is. From my experience with her family, and from watching how her family interacts with her, I think you are being a bit overly sensitive re: the baby shower event. I don’t think they were trying to be mean, or rude, but were just, as you said, very blunt. I have been asked several times, why I’m not married yet, and don’t I think I’m getting pretty old. I have been told that it was really a bad idea to be living with my boyfriend, because clearly he will never marry me now. My Boyfriend or Best Friend has been at family events with me there when people pat her stomach and say, you should have babies soon, because you are already pretty old (she is 30) and it might be too late. And so on. No one has ever considered that they were being rude, just honest.

    You can ask the parents to speak English to you and around you, but it’s unfair to think that they will speak to the rest of their family in English when you are there, and to expect them to change how they interact. This is their time to speak Tagalog and talk to each other comfortably.

    I DO think you could mention to Future Mother-In-Law that you want to be a part of the family more, and it’s hard for you at family gatherings when no one speaks English. Ask her to help translate or include you more in the conversation. If she is trying to include you more, that will steer the conversation to English, or a least a better mix so you can jump in some.

    Post # 16
    Member
    14183 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2009

    I think you can request they speak in english so you can join them by asking what they’re talking about, etc, but i think if you try to learn a few phrases in tagalog–hello, goodbye, thank you–it’ll go a long way.

    In a large family function, though, asking everyone to speak english probably isn’t going to happen. That’s just not how it works. But I think if you try a little, they’ll try a little more.

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