In today’s English lesson our goal is to learn and improve English language fluency through listening to a topical conversation spoken by a native English speaker. As usual, we try to make the lesson interesting as we expect you to listen to the lesson several times, you can learn more about why we ask you to do this here
One issue I had with the podcast was finding consistent facts and figures. Although the internet is a great and easy way of looking these things up, you get a lot of contradictory facts.
Sometimes this is because the websites are old, sometimes it’s because the website is bias. It’s difficult to know what to trust. So although I tried to be accurate, forgive me if some facts are a little off. It’s more important to focus on the English vocabulary and English comprehension to improve your English language fluency than the actual numbers.
We’ve had some really friendly comments on our YouTube channel lately. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look yet, please do. The channel has been growing nicely, and it’s nearly got 5,000 subscribers, so we are super happy with its progress.
Of course, we are still putting out the podcasts on all the major podcast distribution networks. Recently we added ourselves to Deezer, and if you know of a network we are not on, please let us know and we will try to include it.
Polyglot Polyglots Madre Toolkit
|So That You Can||4|
|Million Native Speakers. Of||3|
|Speakers Of Mandarin Chinese||2|
|People Speak Two Languages||2|
|Are In Danger Of||2|
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Welcome to you if you’re listening for the first time. We are here to help you to learn English language, to achieve fluency in spoken English. We provide lots of material for you to listen to so that you can improve your spoken English.
So as usual, let’s go with a topic that you might find interesting. My aim is to give you English language listening material, so that you can practise your understanding – and I’ll try to explain any of the more difficult words. So today – some facts about languages. This podcast will give you some practice at understanding statistics. Being familiar with how to talk about statistics – that’s something which you’ll need if you’re going to do an English speaking exam like IELTS. So let’s practise!
So you’re learning English and you already have your native language, which of course you speak really well. Some people speak two languages, but there are people who make a point of learning multiple languages. These people are referred to as ‘polyglots’, P-O-L-Y-G-L-O-T. You’re a polyglot if you speak more than 2 languages really well.
And polyglots aren’t necessarily geniuses – they’re just people who prioritize language learning. They know the tricks, they know the best ways to learn a language. And they’re interested in doing it and happy to give their time to it. It’s estimated that at least half the world’s population is bilingual – that means half of people speak two languages.
What’s the worlds most common language? Well, you might think that it’s English, but actually the world’s most common language is Mandarin Chinese – and by a long way, if you’re counting ‘native speakers’. ‘Native’ N-A-T-I-V-E means the language learned as children, learned at home and at school – your own language in other words. So there are 918 million native speakers of Mandarin Chinese.
The 2nd most commonly spoken language in the world – with half the number of speakers of Mandarin Chinese, is Spanish – 460 million native speakers. Of course, it’s spoken in Spain, but also in almost all of South America – 21 countries have Spanish as their official language. And the US has many Spanish speakers, it’s second only to Mexico in its number of Spanish speakers!
Third in the list of the most common languages is English, with 379 million native speakers. Of course, people in the UK, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all speak English as their native tongue. I was going to add South Africa to that list, but actually South Africa has 11 official languages.
How many non-native speakers of English are there? So that’s people who’ve learned English as a 2nd or a 3rd language? Well, there are 898 million estimated non-native speakers of English. That’s nearly as many as the native Mandarin Chinese speakers! And of course, notice that there are more than twice as many non-native speakers of English than there are native speakers. But these statistics are fluid – at what point in your English language learning journey do you start to be counted as a non-native speaker of English? Difficult to say! I know some French and some German, but I’m a long way off speaking like a native. Am I considered a non-native speaker of French, say – or not? I don’t know.
Guess which language has the most words? Well yes, you’ve guessed correctly – English has many more words than any other language. That’s not really a surprise, is it? We just make up words all the time! What’s also interesting is the number of words in English which have fallen out of use in the last 50 years.
My sister in France has a massive English dictionary which dates back to 1967. And it’s really noticeable, looking through this enormous dictionary, how many words we don’t recognise now because they’re old and they’re no longer used. Many of them are parts of the body, or names for animals, or things used in farming. Language moves on quickly I think – and old words which are no longer used are replaced with new words. Imagine how many technology words have come into being in the last 50 years.
Speaking of how many words there are in the English language – it’s important because there are so many words to focus your efforts into learning only the most commonly used, the necessary words. And with that aim in mind, we have an Adept English course available which addresses just this problem.
The Adept English 500 Words Course uses ONLY the 500 most common words in English – so that you can practise them, so that you can ensure that you know these common words really, really well. It’s one of our most popular courses – and is really good to consolidate your learning. Go to the courses page at adeptenglish.com to find it. You can buy it and start straight away. So learn English today with the 500 words course.
How many languages are there in the world? Well, it’s estimated that there are over 6,000 languages spoken. That’s difficult to believe. But some languages are spoken by many more people than others. So of those 6,000 languages, about 2,500 of them are in danger of becoming extinct.
Extinct, E-X-T-I-N-C-T is an adjective and we use it to mean when something stops existing. It’s often used about animals – an animal species can become extinct – that means that there are none of that type of animal left. And it can be the same for languages – languages become extinct when no one speaks them any more.
A photograph of lots of country flags. Used in this English lesson on the facts and figures of languages.
They become ‘dead languages’. And actually 50% of people in the world speak the most common 20 languages. I guess as globalisation continues, this is inevitable. The number of different languages that we speak will become fewer. That’s a pity, I realise, as languages become obsolete, not used – and traditions are in danger of being lost too. Of course, the opportunity of online language learning may make that happen even more quickly.
You can learn English online, along with many other languages. But you can’t ask people not to learn new languages, you can’t ask people to stay just with their own native language and miss out on opportunities that might come with a new language. In the UK, there are many attempts in Wales to preserve the Welsh language.
But despite Welsh being compulsory in schools, the trend in Welsh language speaking is still down. It’s hard to influence patterns like this – and should we try to? There are passionate supporters of the Welsh language amongst the older generation, but perhaps less motivation amongst younger people. That’s a whole other discussion, I think.
But there are still a lot of languages – there are 24 official languages within the European Union for example – and in these countries, it’s English and French which are taught as foreign languages in schools. Let’s have a play with some European languages.
- Le français est une langue assez facile à apprendre si vous parlez anglais car beaucoup de mots sont similaires.
- 100 Millionen Menschen sprechen Deutsch als Muttersprache. Es ist die Muttersprache, die in Europa am meisten gesprochen wird.
Those are the two languages – French and German - that I know something of. And the next two are ones I’m prepared to have a go at:-
- 69 milioni di persone parlano italiano come lingua madre.
- El español es uno de los idiomas más fáciles de aprender para los angloparlantes.
See if you can guess what two European languages I’m attempting there. I don’t speak either of them – but they’re nearer to English so it’s a bit easier for me to have a go at those. The answers are in the transcript! So there you are. If you want to learn English language, once you’ve done basic English learning, Adept English is an important part of your toolkit. And who knows? You may become a polyglot.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
|1.||69 milioni di persone parlano italiano come lingua madre.||Italian|
|2.||El español es uno de los idiomas más fáciles de aprender para los angloparlantes.||Spanish|