The second most popular topic* amongst expats trying to learn German is how when we try to speak German, especially when out shopping, people start speaking English back to us. It is frustrating as when trying to learn German, you really want to practice and when people speak English you just don’t get the chance to.
The leading theory about why people speak English to us is that our German is so incredibly bad that instead of wanting to struggle through a conversation they speak English so that we will stop murdering their language. However, an encounter at my local currywurst diner made me wonder if people speak English to us because they want us to feel comfortable. I have ordered dinner at my local diner quite often and always in German, but today they spoke English to me. Nothing had changed in how I ordered, but the guy looked so proud when wishing me a good evening in English and I returned the compliment also in English. Perhaps, it is not that our German is so bad that they speak English to us in return but maybe they want us to feel not as alien here in our host country.
I’m going to try thinking positive things when I speak German and people reply in English. It is not that my German is so incredibly bad (even though truthfully it can be pretty woeful) but that the person I’m speaking to wants me to feel at home here.