Different languages, same problem
Arizona Republic
May. 26, 2006

Question: I grew up in a small Midwestern town that was settled by immigrants from Germany. My grandfather and grandmother came to the United States. As a young man, my father got a job in the local bank and many of the recent immigrants would speak German to him. He decided that they had been in America long enough to speak English and he would pretend he could not understand them when they spoke German. I bring this up because I now reside in a senior citizens apartment complex where many of the staffers are Latino. They all can speak English, and do so when conversing with the residents. However, they all return to speaking to their co-workers, in the presence of the residents, in Spanish. This strikes me as extremely rude.
What do you think?

Catherine: Yes, to speak a language in front of people who don't understand it is rude. It is easy to understand that they feel more comfortable speaking Spanish to each other, but to do so in front of non-Spanish speakers breaks every etiquette rule in the book. My advice to you is to say something politely. These employees at your apartment are not intending to be rude. They have probably never thought about how it comes across.

Lily: It is rude. Talk to the manager and bring it to his or her attention.
You may even suggest that the staff put together a "Spanish for Beginners"
class at the complex. You will be teaching them English while they in turn teach Spanish. This doesn't have to be an Us vs. Them issue.

Danny: We're in a country addicted to political correctness, bicultural existence and our freedom of speech. Yet diversity these days seems to be causing more division than our commonalities. These folks are not trying to be rude. They were just raised thinking this is OK. Saying something might make the situation more awkward, but what the heck? Share your family history with the staffers to help make your point, but continue to live your best life.