Hello Laura and all the other N. India 4-week families out there!
I just saw your query about how it works for students to communicate with their Ladakhi homestay families. It’s a great question, and one that has a multi-faceted answer. In most homes, there are some young people who speak at least a little bit of English. It’s pretty common for younger people to be able to speak English because they learn it at school. Some of the men use English for their work, so they may speak English as well. Older folks, including most homestay moms and nearly all the grandparents only speak Ladakhi, or maybe Ladakhi and Hindi. It can be intimidating at first, but some of my best conversations have been with Ladakhi grandmas. Even though we don’t understand the words that are being exchanged, smiles and gestures can communicate most everything.
The students learn some basic Ladakhi phrases so they can convey that they are full or don’t want more food, or if they are not feeling well, or if they need to get in touch with one of the instructors. They also always know where to find us in case they urgently need something.
I hope this helps answer your question. Keep the questions coming!
Christy, Uttara, and Aditya