I live in a large shared house. I had to move out of my old home on short notice and as such my new one isn't really a good fit but I'm trying to make the best of it until I leave. The house is rented out by a company that has the business model of renting to 'international people' (e.g. people on working visas and international students). This is totally illegal as it's discrimination against locals, but that's not the point of this question.
I live with 10 other people (more if you count their boy/girlfriends who sometimes stay over). Many aren't good with English but the ones who are still don't seem to speak it. There are subgroups, a few from France who speak French, a few from Hungary who speak Hungarian etc.
I didn't think it would bother me but I do feel uncomfortable when I'm in the same room and people have huge conversations right in front of me in a different language. And sometimes they're listening to music on the radio in a different language, or Skyping in a different language too. This is in shared areas like the kitchen where I'm forced to be around them.
After giving it some thought, one of the reasons I don't feel comfortable with this is because if I want to say something to them, I'm not sure if it's an appropriate time to interrupt (for example I wouldn't want to interrupt when they're disusing e.g. going to a funeral).
How can I politely ask them to speak in English, or at least try to? I'm really ok if they sometimes speak in another language but if we're all sitting at the same table and they're having a lengthy conversation in another language that's when I feel uncomfortable. I notice that people from Czech Republic do this the most even though their English is quite fluent (is it a cultural thing like it's considered 'low class to speak English'?). Should I ask them individually or should I leave a note or send a message by text? What words should I use? I was thinking something like.
Hey, when you're around me do you think we can stick with English if it's not inconvenient?
Also whenever someone walks into a room with other people in it, everyone says "hello" in English to each individual person and then everyone switches back to their own language. I find this annoying as if we're not going to say anything more than "hello" then we may as well not say "hello". Is there a way I can politely suggest this?
I only speak English, but the country we live in is dominantly English and that is the official language. All roommates speak some English and it's the only common language. I can't overemphasize that things feel uncomfortable and there's a bit of a culture clash (for example I share the bathroom with someone who stands out side the door waiting for it to become empty, but that's a question for another time ;) )
I want to make clear I'm not trying to be prejudiced and realize it's hard to speak a new language. But I think everyone would get along better if we communicated more. Responding to one comment "But asking them to speak English as default won't win you friendship points, that is certain" consider the opposite: we're not on friendly terms now as no one speaks to each other.
If they already are speaking another language when I enter the room, I get that. I find it more rude when I'm speaking to someone and someone else enters the room and they switch to speaking a language I don't understand.
Sometimes when I am trying to have a conversation with them they switch back to a language I don't understand and have a private conversation in the middle. Also I sometimes get the impression what they're saying does involve me, like wondering if I'm using the oven or pointing at the table I'm sitting at.