Since Iíd like my students to speak English in class, they often ask me for permission to speak their mother tongue. They say: Can we speak Italian?
Well, I sometimes feel something is wrong with that question. Isnít it more correct to ask: can we speak IN Italian?
I also think they may be right because they arenít actually asking themselves if they are able to speak their mother tongue. Theyíre simply asking for permission to speak the language they know.
Iím a bit confused. Could you please help me?
Thanks a lot.
[not a teacher]
Both sound equally acceptable to me. (Of course, if the intent was something akin to the class called "Italian", then of course, it would require "in", as part of "in Italian class", whether "class" was included or not.)
BTW, it used to be that "can" was exclusively for ability, and teachers insisted on "may" for permission, but that is passe, according to every modern source I've read.