604 Learning Language


Joel and Tom talk about learning languages in a bilingual family.

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Tom: Joel, you speak Thai.

Joel: Yeah, a little bit.

Tom: Your wife speaks English.

Joel: Yep, yep.

Tom: So, at home, what language do you use?

Joel: We usually speak English when we want to have real communication because her English is much better than my Thai, but I like to practice Thai a lot so when I'm being a little more playful, when the topic isn't serious and we really don't need to communicate, then we'll speak in Thai and I get a chance to practice and it's also fun for her to listen to me speak in Thai and to teach me. What's interesting is that, it depends also on who we're around, so for example if we're with my family and we want to say something in private, then we'll speak in Thai but if we're with her family and we want to say something privately then we'll speak in English so her family can't understand us.

Tom: Don't your family think that's quite rude?

Joel: Oh, they don't really, they don't really know what we're talking about so they can't be sure. It gets more complicated, though because she also speaks Japanese and I speak Japanese, so sometimes when we are with her brother who speaks English, we'll speak Japanese if we want to speak privately.

Tom: And then again, there's your little kid. What language does he speak?

Joel: I try to speak English most of the time when I'm with him because I want to have him hear me as a model because he lives in Thailand so he's always hearing Thai and I want him to have a chance to hear some English but I find that since I'm around Thai people all the time, they're speaking Thai to him, I start to get used to how they talk to him, and I start to kind of copy their examples, so sometimes it feels natural to me to speak Thai with him, but I try to speak English with him as much as I can.

Tom: And what do you eat in your family?

Joel: Oh, we eat Thai food all the time, yeah. I like it much better than American food.

Tom: Is it because you like it or because your wife is good at cooking it?

Joel: I guess both. I mean, you can't really find much American food in Thailand so it's much easier to get and if you were going to go to a restaurant, like ***** or something, even though it's not so good, it's very expensive, so, both. I like Thai food better and it's just easier to get when you're there.

Tom: With the different languages you can't really settle down together in front of the TV.

Joel: She usually likes to watch English programs, though, so but it's hard for me to watch Thai programs. I usually, I get bored very quickly because I can't understand much.


Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

real communication

We usually speak in English when we want to have real communication.

Here, Joel is referring to the topic of conversation. 'Real communication' is necessary when the topic is serious or personal. It is when you are trying to express your ideas or feelings. Joel is saying that when he needs to express himself, he uses English.Notice the following:

  1. Most of the time he speaks in English, but when he wants to have real communication he'll speak in Spanish.
  2. My husband and I have both been traveling so much that it makes it difficult for us to have real communication as much as we want.

in private

If we want to speak in private, then we'll speak in Thai.

You 'speak in private' when you say something in such a way so that other people can't hear or, in this case, understand. Joel and his wife speak Thai around his family when they don't want his family to understand. Notice the following:

  1. She is a completely different person when you speak to her in private than when she is around all of her friends.
  2. We are going to speak more about this in private after the meeting.

quite rude

Don't you think that's quite rude?

Something that is 'rude' doesn't follow the normal, acceptable social rules. Here, 'quite' means 'kind of' or 'very.' Notice the following:

  1. The woman at the store was quite rude to me on the phone.
  2. It's quite rude not to say hello when someone says hello to you first.

complicated

It gets complicated because sometimes we don't know which language to speak when others are around.

Something is 'complicated' when it is difficult or not easy to resolve. Notice the following:

  1. This seems like a very complicated game. Can we play something easier?
  2. It can be very complicated to get all of my family members together at the same time.

as a model

I speak English when I'm with my kid so he can hear me as a model.

Someone or something acts 'as a model' when we are using it in such a way that we copy it or learn from it. When you listen to someone speak as a model, you are trying to copy the sound of him speaking to improve your own speech. Notice the following:

  1. They used a castle as a model when they made their tree house in the woods.
  2. You can use my project as a model to help you understand the format.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Keep Listening

Below are some more great lessons!

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
communication • private • rude
complicated • model
  1. Do you usually use something as a when you paint or do you just use your imagination?
  2. The new desk cam in pieces and it was very to assemble it.
  3. The fact that you are talking during someone's presentation is quite .
  4. If you have any more questions, you can speak to me in after class.
  5. He can talk forever about things that don't matter, but when he has to have real it's difficult for him.