I went to an interesting discussion last night entitled cariad@iaith (love4language) which featured two English writers, Simon Thirsk and Mike Parker, who have lived in Wales for many years, learnt Welsh and written books based on their experiences. It was mostly in Welsh and was chaired by the Welsh author, Bethan Gwanas. Simon and Mike talked about how they learned Welsh, about being accepted, or not, in their local communities, and about their books.
The audience was made up of Welsh learners and native Welsh speakers, and one good question that came up was how native Welsh speakers can make things linguistically easier for Welsh learners. After some discussion we concluded that the most helpful thing the native speakers can do is to stick to Welsh and not to switch to English even when learners are struggling. Other helpful things would be for native speakers to speak a bit more slowly and to avoid using too much slang.
Native speakers of languages that many people learn, like French, German and Spanish, might be more accustomed to encountering learners and might be relatively willing and able to modify the way they speak, but for lesser-studied languages, like Welsh, the story can be different. This partly depends on whether or not the native speakers of lesser-studied languages speak another major language like English, French or Spanish.
When you speak in your foreign languages to native speakers of those languages, do the native speakers make any allowances for you as a learner (if you’re not at near-native level)?
Do speakers of some languages do this more than for other languages?
If you are a native speaker of a lesser-studied / minority language, are you happy to speak to learners in your language and to accommodate to them by slowing down and simplifying things? Or do you quickly switch to English or another major language?