How to Understand Native English Speakers
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How to Understand Native English Speakers

My students often complain to me that native English speakers speak too fast. They say that movies and TV shows seem too difficult to understand, and this causes them to get discouraged.
The truth is, native speakers can be difficult to understand, however, this is NOT just because of speed.
Even more than speaking quickly, the reason why native English speakers seem difficult to understand is that they change and transform their pronunciation of words and sentences.
This transformation of sounds means that there is a huge difference between classroom or written English and the real English that native speakers speak in everyday life.

How to Understand Native English Speakers: Plan of Action

In order to better understand how native English speakers speak, you must:
  1. Understand that written, classroom English is different than natural, spoken English. When you are practicing your speaking and listening skills, recognize that you are learning a different language.
  2. Learn the rules of English pronunciation?especially stress, rhythm and connected speech.
  3. Practice transforming the language with these rules yourself.
  4. Listen to/watch videos of native-level English speakers whilereading the transcript (I recommend for this).
  5. Re-listen to and take notice of how the speakers are transforming their language, and how this compares to careful written English.
The more you understand the differences between written English and spoken, the more you can train your ears to listen to native speakers and understand them.



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