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“Learning a Foreign Language”



Pre-Listening Question

There are many reasons to learn another language. Which of these are most relevant and important to you?

  1. better memory
  2. better problem-solving skills
  3. a more comprehensive understanding of the world
  4. great self-confidence
  5. better career prospect
  6. deeper connections with others
  7. improved mental health
  8. great travel opportunities

Vocabulary and Expressions

Here are some words and expressions that appear in the video:

insular (adjective): unaware of or uninterested in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one’s own experience.
– My friend is from a very insular community that is not open to outsiders.

stereotype (noun): belief about a particular type of person or thing that is often untrue
– Many stereotypes about my country are inaccurate, and I wish people would take more time to understand our culture.

dub (verb): change the original language in a movie to a different language
– A number of foreign movies have been dubbed into English, or you can watch them in the original language with subtitles.

nuance (noun): a slight difference in meaning
– You really need to build your vocabulary so you can notice different nuances in meaning in everyday conversation.

Listening Comprehension Questions

Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.


Randall: In this video, Aubrey, Let’s talk about languages and about learning languages and requirements at, you know, let’s say schools and colleges. Do you think there should be a foreign language requirement? And what would that look like?

Aubrey: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s definitely a good idea, um, especially like here in the United States. It’s a pretty, you know, insular nation when we’re talking about languages like most people only speak English like it’s a stereotype, but it’s also true,

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: Um, unless you’re in like, I mean, there are some areas that are like highly Spanish-speaking or if you have like large populations of, you know, other language speakers, otherwise people just speak English. And it would be nice like for people to learn other languages. So you have that opportunity, You know, if you go overseas or you know you’re watching TV, you know, you can watch it in the original language.

Aubrey: Like I know a little bit of Japanese. So like I when I’m watching Japanese shows or I’m playing a video game that’s originally in Japanese, I can pick up on more than what the subtitles, you know, give you because, you know, it’s hard to translate things. But even then, like if I’m watching something in German or French, like I will only watch it subtitled, I won’t do it dubbed because you lose nuance when you dub it.

Randall: And I think that’s a really important point there. And, uh, thinking back to high school, do you remember what languages uh, were available to you at that time.

Aubrey: In high school? I know there was a Japanese class because I took it. I’m sure there was Spanish, French, and German. Those are pretty normal ones, but I don’t know if there was any. Oh, Latin. Latin. There was Latin.

Randall: And what about at college? Was there any such requirement that you remember?

Aubrey: Um, I think I met the requirement from high school. I don’t feel like my college had a language requirement. It was more of a, hey, if you’ve done this in high school, you’re good. I guess it’s a little bit more problematic in college because you have to pay for the class.

Randall: Right.

Aubrey: And it’s so expensive to go to college, but I know there were a lot of languages available, but I don’t think I took any.

Randall: Yeah. And I think as you just mentioned, I think knowing a second or even third language can be extremely beneficial, especially in being able not only to communicate in business and other areas but just learning about the world. And I think we can expand our knowledge and understanding of the world by learning a language even if we’re not very proficient in it.

Aubrey: Yeah, honestly, I wish I had studied Spanish because we do have a large Spanish-speaking population. Um, I mean, it’s not huge, but it comes up enough that it would be really useful in customer service, which is what I’m doing right now, uh, to be able to speak Spanish.

Randall: Right. All right. Well, thank you very much for your thoughts on learning a second or a foreign language.

Conversation Questions

  1. Why does Aubrey think it’s a good idea to have a foreign language requirement in schools and colleges?
  2. What are some benefits of learning a second or third language, according to Aubrey and Randall?
  3. Why does Aubrey prefer watching TV shows and movies with subtitles rather than dubbed versions?
  4. How does Aubrey describe the language situation in the United States?
  5. What examples does Aubrey give to emphasize the importance of knowing other languages?
  6. How does Aubrey’s personal experience with Japanese language and subtitles illustrate the limitations of translations?
  7. Analyze the challenges and advantages of learning languages through media, such as watching TV shows or playing video games.
  8. In your opinion, should language classes be a mandatory requirement in college? Discuss the potential barriers and implications of implementing such a requirement.

Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site

The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.

Try More Free Listening at