This episode's vocabulary
- Instrumental motivation (for language learning) - learners want to learn a language because of a practical reason such as getting a salary bonus or getting into college.
- Integrative motivation (for language learning) - learners want to learn the language so that they can better understand and get to know the people who speak that language.
- Minority (noun) - a smaller number or part.
- Convey (verb) - to express a thought, feeling, or idea so that it is understood by other people.
- Reference (noun) - a mention of something.
- Exophoric reference - exophoric reference occurs when a word or phrase refers to something outside the discourse.
- Vital (adj.) - necessary for the success or continued existence of something; extremely important.
- Come into play (phrase) - if something comes into play, it starts to have a use or an effect in a particular situation, and if it is brought into play, it is given a use or an effect.
- Perceive (verb) - to come to an opinion about something, or have a belief about something.
- Sweeping statement (noun) - something that you say or write that is too general and that has not been carefully thought about.
- Utility (noun) - ability to satisfy a particular need; usefulness.
- Inevitability (noun) - the fact of being certain to happen and unable to be avoided or prevented.
Questions and Answers
M: So, Rory, why do people want to use a foreign language?
R: Oh my god, this is like my TKT exam. So there are two main reasons why people learn. Instrumental and integrative motivation. Instrumental is for a specific purpose. And integrative is to fit in somewhere. Some people also do it for fun, but this is kind of a minority.
M: Is speaking in a foreign language easier than reading it?
R: Well, there are pros and cons to both I suppose. With speaking you have the chance to ask for support and use visual aids to support you while you convey the meaning. But it's live and in real time. So there's a lot of pressure there. With reading, you can see everything in front of you. But sometimes there're exophoric references that can be a problem if you don't know what to look for. Or you might need some kind of cultural knowledge, for example.
M: Is it necessary to write in a foreign language well nowadays?
R: Well, I think it helps a great deal at higher levels of communicating where the finer shades of meaning must be conveyed. But at lower levels, it seems like translation software can probably do most of the help for you in that sense.
M: Let's talk about learning languages at school. What's the best age to start learning a foreign language at school?
R: I don't think age is a major issue. It's more about the manner of delivery. So obviously, when you are younger than you'll be learning through playing more games, but when you're older, you can do sort of more book learning, you're more prepared for that stage.
M: Isn't it more beneficial for a person to start learning a foreign language at three or four?
R: Only for pronunciation I think. The only thing the age really plays a role in is the pronunciation part. That's the only thing that's been conclusively proven anyway.
M: What can teachers do to make learning a foreign language interesting?
R: We were talking about this the other day, actually. They could start with using flashcards and various related games. And focus on speaking from the beginning rather than boring grammar rules would also be of use.
M: How important are school trips to countries where the foreign language is spoken?
R: Well, that will come down to the level of planning involved. If it's just sightseeing, then who cares. But if students are meeting locals and participating in events, then it would be vital.
M: Let's talk about the benefits of speaking more than one language. What are the benefits of growing up speaking more than one language?
R: Well, your access to information expands massively. Imagine being able to use twice as much knowledge as your peers, that's a terrific advantage. Possibly another benefit will be? Well, your cultural knowledge will improve as well. Although all of this comes back to knowledge, I suppose.
M: So culture and language are connected?
R: Well, the knowledge of them is.
M: And does language help you to learn more about the culture of a country?
R: I'd say so, it makes it more accessible.
M: Huh. Do you agree that promoting the learning of foreign languages in schools can improve international relations?
R: Oh, higher levels of education tend to improve cooperation more generally it seems. Though, I don't think it's enough in and of itself, open communication between countries, friendly relations, exchanges, trade. Though they all come into play in such cases.
M: Why is it important to preserve a wide variety of languages in the world?
R: Well, an argument could be made that different languages provide different ways to perceive and understand the world, or at least the cultures of the places where they're spoken. For example, I remember someone saying once that the Russian word for safety translates to "without danger", which is a different way of understanding what safety is because it presents danger as the situation which is like the normal, the norm in the world.
M: Do you think minority languages will disappear?
R: Well, given how many there are in the varying degrees of usefulness and protection they have? It's hard to make a sweeping statement. I think it will be a bit like natural selection. So as long as there's some adaptation and utility, then they'll survive. And if not, then they'll probably disappear.
M: Do you think in the future, there'll be more people who will speak more than one language?
R: I think that's probably an inevitability. As globalization happens, and people become more interconnected, you will find that increasingly becoming the case.
M: Do you think that English could be replaced by some other language? Like Russian, for example? Or Scottish English is going to be a separate language.
R: That's hard to say. I would say not for the next 100 years. At least it seems that way. Because, based on previous trends, French used to be the language of like trade and communication. And before that, it was Latin. And they were eventually replaced by something. But it took like, a series of cataclysms and long term trends over decades and hundreds of years.
M: Rory, thank you very much for insightful answers!
R: No problem.
M: So languages. Yes, dear listener, languages and foreign languages is a common IELTS topic. It's common in essays, it's also common in speaking. So different various questions about languages, learning languages, schools, and languages in the future. So yeah. Okay. And we can say that there are pros and cons to both sides, for example, right? So pros and cons to something, right, Rory?
R: Well, the pros and cons to something or of something.
M: Of doing something, right? There are pros and cons of speaking in a foreign language or reading in a foreign language. And also you can say like foreign languages and your mother tongue. So you can squeeze in this nice collocation mother tongue.
R: You could say in contrast to the mother tongue.
M: Nice. Learning a foreign language in contrast to your to or with.
R: In contrast to or with, it's not important.
M: Yeah, both are possible. Rory used really nice words about motivation. So motivation could be instrumental or it could be integrative. Or, like, internal motivation and external motivation.
R: Yes. But they're, they're probably describing roughly similar things, to be honest with you. Because external motivation comes from outside and internal comes from within, but like, where do you draw the line there? You know, how do you know how much the motivation comes from you and how much you're being motivated by...
M: No, for example, if your parents make you listen to this podcast, but you don't want to listen to this podcast. So that's external. But if you do want to listen to our podcast yourself, you think it's useful? You think it's funny, it's good for your English life. So it's like external, internal motivation, sorry. But sometimes you have both external and internal motivation.
R: Yeah, but most people have both, but it's hard to tell, which is the greater influence, you'd have to think about that really hard. Whereas instrumental and integrative are much easier to measure because you can actually see like, what's the specific purpose? Or where do you need to go?
M: So for example, if I take IELTS to enter the University of Liverpool, that's instrumental motivation, right?
M: Okay, because I have a specific purpose. But could you give me an example of an integrative motivation?
R: Well, if you're planning to uproot your entire family and move to a new country like migration, then that's integrative. If you're going to move there and fit in with the community there and work in the community.
M: But that's a specific purpose.
R: Well, not really, because there's a broad range of applications when you're fitting into the culture and society you have to be able to work to live, to shop, to go take a driving test.
M: We can talk about the majority of languages and there is a minority, right. So minority languages, languages, which are disappearing, right, and maybe like rare languages, right? Like Latin, for example.
R: Or, well, Latin is like a dead language now. But what's not is Mari language in Russia.
M: Okay. Wow. Interesting. And it's hard to make a sweeping statement. That's a good one to make a sweeping statement.
R: Yes. So a sweeping statement is just something that you talk about, I don't know, a big trend, and you speak about it in very general terms. So you're like, oh...
M: Yeah, all languages will disappears in 10 years, period.
R: Or all languages will be replaced by English in 10 years.
R: That's a sweeping statement.
M: Oh, can you imagine everybody's speaking Scottish English? When we talk about communication in a foreign language, we can speak about finer shades of meaning being conveyed.
R: Yeah. It sounds complicated, but it's really not. A finer shade of meaning is like the very subtle and small differences between two things like the difference between past simple and past continuous. Past simple is usually used to describe a sequence of actions. Whereas past continuous is usually, well, it can describe things that happen in the background. You need both. And they both talk about events happening in the past, but in different ways.
M: When you write in the foreign language, finer the shades of meaning must be conveyed. Must be conveyed - must be, well...
M: Expressed, yeah. We convey meaning we express meaning with the help of our language. When the examiner asks you something, like how important our school trips to English speaking countries, for example, and you go, it will come down to...
R: Yeah. So it's like another way of saying it depends.
M: Yes, it will come down to. Interesting though, like, come down, like, wow, but it will come down to the level, it will come down to what, the planning, organized, right? Or it will come down to the budget of a school, whatever. So it will depend. That's a really nice way of paraphrasing. It depends on something. You've used another phrasal verb here, they all come into play. So come into play.
R: Yeah, it just means that they all work together.
M: So for example, the examiner asks you something like, do you agree that promoting the learning of foreign languages in schools can improve international relations? And you go, yeah, friendly relations, exchanges, trade, they all come into play in such cases.
R: So they're all necessary. Or they're all part of it.
M: Hmm. We can use the passive voice structures. So different languages are spoken. in different parts of the world.
R: We talk about the places where they are spoken.
M: The places where they are spoken.
R: So it's like relative clause. Relative pronoun actually and passive.
M: Cool. Yep. Yep.
R: But that's enough sweeping statements from us about languages.
M: No, we don't make sweeping statements. We just, you know, speculate.
R: Maybe elaborate.
M: Elaborate. Yeah. So thank you very much for listening. Be ready to talk about languages for your IELTS purposes.
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