IELTS Speaking Section Part 1, 2 and 3 - Talking about Language

IELTS Speaking Section Part 1 - Talking about Familiar Topics


What languages do you speak?

My mother tongue is Javanese, which is commonly spoken by those who live in Java. I also speak Bahasa, which is an official language in Indonesia.

Is it normal for people in your country to speak more than one language?

Extremely normal. Indonesia has around 1300 ethnolinguistic groups. Everyone speaks their traditional language, such as Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, and many other regional languages. To communicate with someone who speaks an entirely different traditional language, we use Bahasa, a national language that sort of functions like a lingua franca, a language that unites people from various ethnolinguistic grups. People here also learn foreign languages. English is a mandatory course at school, and I think a significant number of people are quite fluent in English. Some of people also speak other languages like Arabic or Mandarin.

Why is it important to learn a new language?

One of many reasons why people feel like they have to learn a new language is because they move to a country where the language is spoken or because they need to communicate with those who speak the language. For example, a friend of mine takes a master degree in Germany. She studied economics as an international student, which means that the lectures are in English. However, she learned German several months before her departure because she realized that she won't be there only for studying. Studying is not the only thing that matters to her. She can speak English in classes but when it comes to social interaction, it would be an entirely different case. Remember that Nelson Mandela once said: when you talk to a man in a language that he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.

What foreign language do you want to learn, and why?

I really want to learn Korean, actually. Korean pop culture and arts are so famous recently. We enjoy their music, movies, drama, and cuisine, and I think language is one of the most important parts of culture and art appreciation. You can watch a movie with subtitle, or read the translated version of a literary work, but if you really want to  immerse yourself and appreciate the culture, language will always be an important part. I have been trying to do this with English for so long, learning the language to appreciate western culture and civilization while at the same time, using films, literary works and other cultural products to improve my English proficiency. I want to see if I can actually do this with Korean too.

What language do you think is most difficult to learn?

I think any language that doesn't use alphabet is difficult to learn, languages like Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, or Hindi. When you learn these languages, you have to work hard to familiarize yourself with each and every letter first, and that takes time and effort. You may appreciate the beauty of the writing system, but then you have to work harder to master it. While with other language, say, English, the smallest component to learn is the word. The language uses the alhphabet with which I'm already familiar. There are some accent or diacritics that do exist in French, like the s sound in the word français, but there are not so many of them, I suppose.

IELTS Speaking Section Part 2 - Self-Presentation

Learning Language

Describe a language you have learned

What language is it?
When you started learning?
How you learned it
What was so difficult about it

And explain why you learn this language

What language is it?

I've been learning French for a while, and English too. I used to learn English as a foreign language, but now it sort of becomes my second language.

When you started learning?

I started learning French since I was in senior high school. English is a compulsory subject at school, but the students were also given a chance to learn other foreign languages, such French, German, and Japanese. In college, I was given a chance to choose foreign language course, and I chose French I and French II. French II was taught in French by a native speaker.

How you learned it

Like many other students, I learned the language mostly from textbook. The emphasis was on the grammar, because we could learn the vocabulary from other sources, such as dictionary, news, articles, novels, or any other text written in French. In advanced class, the emphasis was on real communication, both written and spoken. This was the reason why we were taught by a native speaker, I guess.

What was so difficult about it

The most difficult part was the grammar. There is this feminine masculine difference for each word, which we don't normally see in English. So, expanding your vocabulary is quite challenging. It's not the only problem though. The correlation between a word and its gender is not always straightforward. For instance, when I first heard the word arme à feu, which means firearm, I assumed that the word would be a masculine. In actuality, the word 'firearm' is a faminine word.

I tried to deal with this challenge and came up with some solutions. The easiest way to memorize these words is by using them along with their determiner, all the time. So I always say la maison, le garçon, le livre, la famille, instead of just the noun.

One thing that is extremely helpful when it comes to learning French is the cognate words that sort of look or sound identical to their English equivalents, such as analytique and analytic, calculator and calculatrice.

And explain why you learn this language

As I said, foreign language becomes a mandatory course in schools. I took French in highschool because I thought learning German and Japanese would be extremely difficult. I had seen the textbook used in German and Japanase class and it seemed like it would require a lot more effort to learn them. In contrary, French looked and sounded more like English for me at that time, so, I was just guessing that it would be much easier for me to learn it. It turned out that it wasn't easy either.

At college, I was planning to take the Dutch instead of continuing to learn French. But then I realized that I would have to start from scratch learning Dutch. So, I decided to take French class once again. Learning French in college was difficult, but since I already knew some of the most basic stuff, things that I learned in highschool, I didn't have to start from zero.

IELTS Speaking Section Part 3 - Discussion

The Importance of Language

Do you think children should learn a foreign language?

Yes, they should. The world is getting more globalized these days, and I believe that learning language will someday enable them to engage with the world as a global citizen. Some parents also encourage their children to learn a foreign language for a more practical reason. For example, English proficiency has played a key role in determining someone's success in both academic and professional life. Therefore, parents want to, let's say, facilitate their children and help them prepare themselves to excel in education and succeed in their future career by encouraging them to take foreign language courses. There is a study explaining children's ability to acquire language better in their early age, something that is usually referred to as the golden period. You don't wait until it's too late to learn a language, because the learning process gets more and more difficult as you grow older.

Is it more important for us to learn traditional language, or international language?

I think both traditional and international language are important in their own way. In my country, people often say 'preserve the traditional language as a cultural heritage, use the national language because it unifies us as a nation, master foreign languages to succeed and engage in a more globalized world'. As I have stated earlier, most Indonesians speak their regional language as their first language, Bahasa as a second language, and foreign language, to certain extent. English, in many cases, is seen as a 'money' language. You are applying for a job and want to be seen as the most competent candidate? Submit an English proficiency test certificate. It is not the only criterion being considered in a job application, but it surely helps you stand out in a crowd.

What do you think of dead language?

I'm not really an expert in this subject. Although I studied linguistics in college, studying dead languages was not the focus of my study. But  I'll try to explain it from my own point of view. Let me use Latin as an example. The simplest explanation why Latin is considered as a dead language is because it no longer has native speakers. No one speaks in Latin. However, the language is not entirely dead, I suppose. The written form of the language is still used in academic and legal context. When we refer to certain species of plant, for instance, we still use the Latin name. There are also these languages that are considered as 'vulgar Latin' such as French, Spanish and Italian. So, the language is not necessarily dead, more like, transformed into other languages.

One reason why Latin is no longer spoken is perhaps because it's too complicated, in terms of grammar, making it difficult to use in every day conversation. Meanwhile, the more simplified forms of vulgar Latin can survive, or even thrive, because it is less complicated and more readily used in real talks.

Some say that there are a lot of tribal, traditional languages dying out every day, because no one is no longer using them. But, it's hard to explain the death of these tribal languages except you really have an expertise in the field and have access to, some kind of documentation of the language in order to reconstruct it, and then study it.

Why do some people learn language so fast and some other people don't?

There have been some studies indicating that certain regions of human brain is particularly involved in language acquisition, so, I think it's safe to assume that this is one factor. Others argue that people are good at learning language simply because they have motivation and work hard to learn it. The more you are exposed to certain language, the more likely that you will master it. Some people have profound mastery of certain language because they have a formal educational background in linguistics, translation studies, or literature.

Why is there a high demand for foreign language learning?

As I said, foreign language can help you ascend social and economic ladder. There are a lot of opportunities to study and work overseas if you are fluent in English, which is a very common reason why there's a high demand for foreign language learning.

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