Posted on Jul 7, 2015
CPL Food Service Specialist
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Can someone please tell me the regulation against speaking Spanish at work. I am the only black soldier that is tasked out on a special detail, all the rest of the soldiers are Hispanic and one Asian. Every time I come around they start speaking Spanish so that I can be excluded out of their conversations even when we are about to do a mission. What's even worse is the E5 is basically egging them on. I am fed up with the language barrier even when I clearly made it obvious that they need to speak in English I was basically told to shut up by the E5. Is it time for me to go to EO?
Posted in these groups: United states army logo ArmyForeign language Foreign Language
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CW3 Network Architect
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I'm a black CW2, I speak four foreign languages, including Spanish, and I'm a graduate of an official EO Leader's course.

CPL (Join to see) , you should not have to learn Spanish. If they are deliberately excluding you by speaking Spanish, you may very well have an EO complaint. You definitely have a hostile work environment complaint, which is more IG than EO, but there's another factor here: are you the only woman in your workplace?

In any case, if they're having WORK conversations, those need to be in English. Print out the copy of AR 600-20, Chapter 4, Paragraph 13 already cited, and take it to the E-5. If told to shut up, take it up the NCO support channel. Give your platoon sergeant a chance to fix the problem before going to EO. If the problem can't get fixed, then DEFINITELY go to EO.

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This is a completely different situation than having a personal conversation. These soldiers are making a deliberate effort to exclude their fellow soldier. She's the only black in the workplace, and may be the only woman. Instead of telling her "these are personal conversations", she gets told 'shut up'. This is, in a word, bullshit.

This is a lot different from times I've been speaking to my (German) wife and had someone approach me demanding I speak English.

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Junior soldiers will use foreign language ability to talk shit about people they don't like, even when they're right in front of them. Almost anyone with a lack of character will do this, even civilians.

I always keep my hair within 670-1 parameters, but I don't do the high and tight stuff. After I became fluent in German, I was working for a personnel shop (I'm Signal, and at the time I was a 25B doing computer programming)...and the new PSG was former Infantry, always getting on me about my hair because he thought I should have a high and tight. Showing him the relevant sections of AR 670-1 only made the harassment worse. After one particularly bad ass chewing I thought to myself "Ok, I got his number..."...that Saturday I went to the barbershop, sat down in the chair, and said "make me bald".

Now it's time to forget about the PSG, because here comes the point of the story. Most times, concessions in overseas bases are run by local nationals, and in Wuerzburg, Germany, this was no different. The gal doing my scalping, while doing it, started talking to her buddy about how funny looking my head was. I thought to myself "Ok, I got this" and kept silent. Eventually, she was done, and we went to the register to go pay. I paid exactly as much as I was supposed to, and this heifer has the audacity to look me in the eye and say (in English), "What, no tip?". I responded in perfect German: "Here's a tip, next time you want to talk shit about someone, make sure they don't speak your language". The look on her face as I walked out was PRICELESS!!!!!!
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CW3 Network Architect
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And bottom line, the use of a foreign language isn't the real issue, it's that it's being used as a tool to exclude a fellow soldier. Good order and discipline comes into play here. What if they are talking about mission, and she misses a vital piece of information? That's the direction you need to be thinking of in this case.
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CPL Food Service Specialist
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I wish I could stand up to them and speak Spanish so I could catch them in their fault. There is another female but of course she us Hispanic which means she be in on the jokes also probably. I just thought it was me feeling cheated or something. I hate feeling useless because I can't do the mission.
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PO3 Mike Greco
PO3 Mike Greco
5 y
4–13. Army language policy
English is the operational language of the Army. Soldiers must maintain sufficient proficiency in English to perform
their military duties. Their operational communications must be understood by everyone who has an official need to
know their content, and, therefore, must normally be in English. However, commanders may not require Soldiers to use
English unless such use is clearly necessary and proper for the performance of military functions. Accordingly,
commanders may not require the use of English for personal communications that are unrelated to military functions.
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SPC Jim Hannon
SPC Jim Hannon
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Did that hair cut happen in Büdingen, because if so I know the heifer.
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LTC Jason Mackay
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Edited >1 y ago
AR600-20
4–13. Army language policy
English is the operational language of the Army. Soldiers must maintain sufficient proficiency in English to perform their military duties. Their operational communications must be understood by everyone who has an official need to know their content, and, therefore, must normally be in English. However, commanders may not require Soldiers to use English unless such use is clearly necessary and proper for the performance of military functions. Accordingly, commanders may not require the use of English for personal communications that are unrelated to military functions.

That being said, you may go to EO, but I would not start there. That E5 works for someone, I would go to his next senior. And that guy has a boss. And so on. EO will hand it back to your Command to solve. Give them a chance to fix it. The issue is not the use of another language, but using it to exclude unit members. That is where you start. All else fails, see your Company Commander on the open door policy. I would exhaust the chain of command before going to EO/IG unless they are doing things that are illegal, unethical, or immoral.

As general leadership mentor ship, Understand problems are solved at the lowest level and use the chain of command.
Bonus Points: Unsure of the setting of the confrontation with the E5, but if you did it in public, that is likely a reason for the negative response. Always confront in private. The natural response is to push back, which would likely cause you to push back in response. In private, it gives the other person a chance to realize what you are saying and not fight back to save face. If you had this conversation in private and you got broke off, then his loss. Perhaps his NCOIC/PSG will help him see the light.
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WO1 Human Resources Technician
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That's the correct answe COL!
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SSG Trevor S.
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AR 600-20 defines the operational language of the Army, among tons of other command issues and equal opportunity. Its a good regulation to get aquainted with.
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CW2 Information Systems Technician
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maybe they should read 600-20
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