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I wanna talk about learning languages


This support pack accompanies the audio file 'I wanna talk about learning languages'. To listen to the
audio file, go to:

This support pack contains the following materials:

• a pre-listening vocabulary activity

• the transcript of the audio file
• a comprehension activity

Before you listen

Activity 01
Match the words and phrases in the table to their definitions.

a. do something badly b. earlier c. encouraging

d. feel better after something
e. go to regularly (formal) f. level
g. notice h. quite good, acceptable i. take part in
j. television stations k. very difficult task, an effort l. very much

1. attend
2. beforehand
3. by far
4. channels
5. compete
6. decent
7. degree
8. get over
9. make a right mess of
10. pick up on
11. struggle
12. supporting


And I think maybe here in Hong Kong, the family

(families) are crowded into a very small housing I wanna talk about learning languages. I’ve
space, so maybe you would sometimes argue lived in many different countries, both in
with your family and I think try (trying) to resolve Western Europe, Middle East, and now here in
the disagreement with people is very important Hong Kong. And during all of that time, I’ve
because then you can build strong relationships learned five or six different languages, to one
and keep commitments you have made. For degree or another. I love learning languages,
example, sometimes maybe you are feeling not only are they important when you move to a
alone and you want to make some comfort and I country, I just find them fascinating.
think you can ask the people you trust for help is
very important because if you have a bunch of Before I came to Hong Kong, I lived in
friends, they can listen to you, then you can Barcelona Spain for ten years. And when I first
release some stress through talking to them. arrived, the most important thing was being able
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The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
I wanna talk about learning languages

to communicate with people locally. I don’t also knew that I could learn a lot of language
attend classes. I don’t think I’m particularly this way. So I'd take a dictionary with me
good in classes. I prefer to learn by just talking sometimes, or I'd notice a word and I'd ask other
to people, finding out what I need to say by people what …it meant.
looking at dictionaries and listening carefully.
Anyway, by far the best practice I ever had was
Other things that helped me when I first moved just talking to people in the street, or in shops
to Spain, were watching the typical kinds of where I'd rehearse in my head what I wanted to
programs we see everyday on channels around say beforehand, before I went in. Usually, I'd
the world. For example the weather. This is make a right mess of it first of all, but, after you
great, because they always say the same get over the embarrassment, it’s quite funny
things. So you can really quickly hear the same really. And people are very sympathetic and
words repeated again and again. And the supporting in most cases.
pictures helped of course.
It took me a long time to develop a good level of
Other types of program that helped me learned Spanish. I lived there for ten years, and I think
Spanish quickly were things like game shows, I’m very fluent now. But I think for the first two
where the same thing happens. They have a years I was there, it was quite a struggle to hold
catchphrase or a slogan that they repeat a decent conversation. There were always lots
endlessly when contestants win or when they of words or expressions that I didn’t pick up on.
are called to compete. In particular with the colloquial expressions,
idioms, that kind of thing, that people use in
As well as that, I used to pick up the Spanish everyday talk, but you don’t necessarily see
newspapers. First of all, I just accepted that written down. I didn’t find those very easy to
there was no way I was going to understand learn at all. But it was a lot of fun. And people
anything but one or two words. But gradually, I as I said are really supporting when they know
found that I learned lots of new things about this. that you are genuinely interested in learning
I was interested because I wanted to know what their language.
was happening in the country I lived in. But, I

After listening

Activity 02
Choose the correct answer to each question.

1. Which continent has the speaker not lived in?

a. Asia
b. Europe
c. South America

2. Which two things does the speaker do to learn a new language?

a. go to classes and speak to people

b. speak to people and use a dictionary
c. watch TV and listen to the radio

3. Why does the speaker think watching game shows is useful?

a. because of the pictures

b. because contestants are always winning
c. because the language is repetitive

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The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
I wanna talk about learning languages

4. What does the speaker say about using newspapers?

a. it was easy to learn a lot of new words quickly

b. a lot of things were happening in the country
c. other people could explain new words the writer found

5. What does the speaker say about talking to people in the street?

a. preparation was necessary

b. the embarrassment made it a failure
c. people reacted negatively

6. Why were colloquial expressions a problem for the speaker?

a. they took ten years to learn

b. they were never written down
c. they were often unnoticed


Activity 01
1. e; 2. b; 3. l; 4. j; 5. i; 6. h; 7. f; 8. d; 9. a; 10. g; 11. k; 12. c

Activity 02
1. c; 2. b; 3. c; 4. c; 5. a; 6. c

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The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.