I am an English guy, teaching at an educational camp in Poland, which is hosted for Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians. Everyone seems to be able to speak English well enough to have a conversation, and the classes themselves are taught in English. However, understandably, when they are together they tend to speak in their native tongue since it is easier.

I am a shy, quiet person and generally not great at socialising, but there are many talented, interesting individuals at the camp so would like to socialise with them from time to time.

I am unsure of how to go about doing this when they are speaking another language. If I stand around for a while occasionally one will translate briefly what they were talking about which is nice, but then I can't really find out until it's already been talked about.

Are there any ways to improve my interactions with these people without directly saying 'speak English' (I'd guess this is rude since I am the visitor to their country after all...)?

Long term I'd like to learn the language but Polish seems quite hard currently!

Any advice would be appreciated.

(Currently, everyone at the camp ranges in age from about 17 to 20)

1 Answer 1


If you can find a group that you're more acquainted with, chime in with something in English. If they feel like including you in their conversation, they'll try and change theirs to English then. Must be careful who you approach though. If they look unapproachable or uninterested in sharing with you, don't force it, find another group.

I grew up in the Middle East, and my classmates were mostly north Indians who spoke Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil, and whatnot between class hours. Although I am now a jack of many Indian languages, I wasn't so back then. It was indeed very difficult for me to get accepted among them when I first joined the school, because I'm from south India, and they didn't speak my language.

I could grasp certain words or phrases in their languages because there are a lot of similar sounding and meaning words in all Indian languages, probably evolved from Sanskrit or Arabic somehow. So I often tried to join in with my responses in English while they tried Hindi or Urdu to me.

Eventually or somehow automatically we reached an equilibrium of sorts. They would try and get to English as far as they could, and in other times, I would try and understand their language. I can now proudly speak at least 4-5 Indian languages, and English, and Arabic, sort of. And I have made some good friends in the school. :)

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