So they were talking and I realized they were enjoying themselves. I realized they were talking. Very happy on the first day of Spring here in Buenos Aires. Then one of the ladies said "Me di cuenta (I realized that…) ¿Cómo se dice?"
"In English!" I said sternly. "I realized: I realized it was time for lunch."
They all looked sharply at me. I had broken the mood. I had repressed the learner. She had wanted to say it in English and there was no way except via translation to acquire that term.
As the ladies left, to have lunch together actually, I was left wondering about the advisability of prohibiting Spanish in the classes, and how things would work if I allowed the occasional prompt from L1 (Language one: first language, mother tongue).
Wouldn't things get out of hand? Well, hopefully.
Resolution: gently ignore L1 use, especially if it's the only way to meet learning objectives. Positively reinforce flow of use in English!