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Explained! Why Can’t You Understand Native English Speakers? Should I Learn British Or American English?

Beginners in English are often worried and confused about that not understanding native English speakers or What English they should follow – British English or American English? This is the questions asked by many of my English class students. I thought why not make an English lesson answer these two common questions almost every English learner has. I will Give you tips to understand fast native speakers and make you understand the myth between the two English versions, you are confused between.

Complete Lesson Transcript : –

Hello guys, today in this special lesson you can learn about, “how to understand native speakers.” I know even after studying English for several years, some English learners find it difficult to understand native speakers, is that true for you as well? However there are some simple things that you can do to improve your English and not only that, there are certain things that you can do to improve your listening skills as well which in turn makes it easier for you to understand native speakers. So if you want to improve in this area of your English then you need to watch this complete lesson with me, you’ll see five simple tips that you can use to understand native English speakers more easily, my name is Michelle and you’re watching me on Let’s Talk, the place to learn real communication. Look at this sentence, “I am from India” imagine you’re talking to someone, how would you say it? Well you have two options, would you say the sentence like, “I’m from India” with the contraction “I’m” or would you say the full sentence speaking every word separately more like, “I am from India” okay, which one sounds more natural? Now think about a few more sentences, listen to this, “he has already told me”, “I would like to meet you”, “they will not be here until tomorrow” do you know all of these sentences can actually be contracted? Listen to these, “he’s already told me”, “I’d like to meet you”, “they won’t be here until tomorrow” did you see the difference? So would you pronounce the contractions or would you say the full form of the sentence? Think about it and be honest, it’s not a test, how would you say it? What’s your answer? Well I guess your answer may be a, ‘No’ and that’s where the problem is. So many English learners don’t use enough contractions and they speak. So they might actually know what contractions are but they don’t use it when they speak, they use the full form instead, for example, ‘he has’ instead of “he’s”. If you don’t use contractions when you speak, it’ll be difficult to understand them when you’re listening, what do you think, isn’t that true? And that’s why it gets hard for you to understand what native speakers are saying because they often, I mean really often use contractions and if you find it difficult to understand them then possibly you need to start using contractions yourself, I hope you got this point. Use contractions more in your daily speech. Try to stay say “I’ll” instead of ‘I will’, “she’ll” instead of she’ll ‘she will’, “he’s” instead of ‘he has’, “I’d” instead of ‘I would’. If you start using contractions yourself, I’ll start becoming easier for you to actually understand them. So this is my first step for you, that you should start using contractions yourself. So here is a simple question in English which is often difficult for English learners to understand and the question is, “what are you doing?” Well did you understand it this time? Do you know why do so many people find it difficult to hear this question correctly, well let me tell you why, for this we need to look at every word separately, first of all the letter ‘T’ in the word what is usually not pronounced, yup it actually changes to a ‘D’, it’s more like whad instead of what with a ‘T’. Secondly the word are is not pronounced ‘are’ and it doesn’t rhyme with car or far it changes to a very short sound ‘ah’, yes so it’s not ‘are’ but ‘ah’ and next the word ‘you’ is not pronounced as you it does not rhyme with ‘to’ or ‘do’, it actually becomes a very short sound ‘ya’ and finally the words are not pronounced with spaces in between them, yes you write them with spaces but you don’t speak these words with spaces the whole question is pronounced like one long word, so the question which is written is “what are you doing?” But the question which is spoken, sounds like “whadayadoin?” I hope you got me there. So, ‘what are you doing’ it’s very different from “whadayadoin?” of course if you think ‘are’ should be pronounced as ‘ah’ and ‘you’ should be pronounced as ‘you’ and so on you will expect to hear something like, ‘what are you doing?’ and if you’re expecting to hear that you will definitely not hear that from a native speaker and of course that’s the reason you probably won’t understand the natural pronunciation of the sentence. So what should we do now about this? What can you really do? Well here are two suggestions I have for you, okay the first suggestion is, “learn about weak forms”. So weak forms are like ‘ah’, this is what happens to the word ‘are’, it takes a weaker form and it becomes ‘ah’ and the same way ‘you’ take the weaker form and becomes ‘ya’, so you need to know a little bit more about weaker forms and second “pay attention to how people speak”, don’t think about what you read in your English textbook, listen to how people actually pronounce and sentences in real life and you realize that there is a big difference between the way English is written in textbooks and the way natural English is spoken, so that’s my advice for you and another good exercise here is possibly a dictation, no I’m not talking about a dictation that used to happen in your school but I’m saying that you should choose something to listen to like a podcast or probably a YouTube video which is not too difficult for you and listen to one minute and try to write down everything you hear and pause as much as you need to. What happens this way? Well this way you can train yourself to follow native English speech and later on you can replay the video with the subtitles to check how far will you write. Okay so that’s my advice for you in order to understand native speakers better. Look at this question with a missing word, “_____ you ready?” What is the missing word “_____ you ready?” If you’re an average English student you would say that the missing word probably is, Are you ready? Well that’s the correct answer, but it’s not the best answer. Well you must be wondering how can the correct answer not be the best answer? Well that’s quite possible. What I’m talking about is actually the best answer is that, there are no words missing I know I caught you off guard. So you can just say, “you ready?” yes, so instead of saying, ‘are you ready?’, you could simply say ‘you ready?’ because in spoken English you don’t need to say ‘are’, in fact you can make the question even shorter and just say “ready?” yes, because it’s understood that you’re talking about someone being ready for possibly going out or something else. Native speakers very often leave out words like these. Again if you’re expecting to hear a full question these shorter questions can be very confusing for you. So when can we leave words out like that? Well in questions which are “yes” or “no” questions and which have the word “you”. So these kind of questions, there’s a high possibility to make shorter questions. Well to understand it better, let’s look at some examples, “have you finished?” okay, “are you going?”, “do you want to come?” all of these questions are actually correct, but that’s not the best way to say because these questions can actually be shortened, for example ‘have you finished?’ can become “you finished?” or “finished?”, ‘are you going?’ can become “you going?” or “going?”, ‘do you want to come?’ would be “you want to come?” or even simpler “want to come?” so what should you do? Well, try to use these shortened questions when you speak. Like all of my advice today, you need to use it yourself. If you use it when you speak it will be easier for you to understand others who speak in this manner. Remember that native speakers very often shortened questions like this. Here’s a question, “do you need to understand every word that someone is saying?” What do you think? Do you know, very often English learners focus on the part they don’t understand, instead of the parts that they understand and that’s natural. But it’s not quite helpful, well to answer my question, ‘no you do not need to hear and understand every word to understand someone’s message’. So imagine that you’re in the kitchen with your friend, okay who is cooking something and your friend asks you a question and you hear something like, “can you ***#**!!**?” Okay so it’s more like you didn’t understand anything after ‘can you’ well I couldn’t display it in a more funnier manner so you can laugh, so basically you didn’t understand here so you didn’t understand or hear the full question but that’s often not a problem, first of all you heard the words ‘can you’, so obviously you know that your friend wants you to do something, it’s sort of a request and they’re asking you to possibly pass something to them or bring something to them. Secondly you’re in the kitchen, you’re cooking… so whatever your friend wants it’s almost, you’re almost certainly connected to that. Probably your friend needs you to help with something or give them something. By using the ‘context’ you can often understand someone by ‘context’ I mean the situation. So even if you haven’t heard all the words by knowing what the situation is, you can understand what they’re saying. But, but, but… you say that’s not really understanding native speakers, I want to understand native speakers, not guess what they mean. Well native speakers do this too, do you know that? And you probably do it in your own first language, so basically there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it in English. We all often try to understand things from the context. Many times it may not be the pronunciation but just that the person isn’t audible and that’s why you don’t understand. So don’t think I don’t know the word, so I can’t understand the sentence… it’s not true. None of it and none of this works. So use another simple trick, “ask”. Yeah! If you cannot use any of the strategies that I’ve told you, “just ask”. Ask the person, “what did you say?” or “can you say that again?” Here’s another question, “what does native English sound like?”, “do you prefer the sound of British English or American English?” Actually those are both terrible questions, which make no sense do you know why? The reason these are terrible questions is, because there’s no such thing as British English or American English, yeah. So if you want to talk about British English, if you think about British English, most British people don’t sound the same and they don’t sound British at all. It’s the same for American English, people from America are from different places and they have their own native accents from their own local places. So basically people from different places and different backgrounds will speak in different ways, that’s quite obvious. Then of course there are many other countries where English is the first language, I mean the official language of the country, for example Ireland, Zambia, Australia, Kenya, Canada, New Zealand, Belize, South Africa, so there are many more countries where English is the first language and they have their own native accents which are different from the American or the British accent, so the world of English is actually much bigger than the UK and the US and you’ll be a better English speaker and listener if you realize this. Unfortunately many English learners react negatively when they hear a native speaker speak in a manner that they don’t understand and they often complain about their pronunciation, their accent, sometimes I’ve heard students say things like, “I don’t like that person’s pronunciation” or “that person doesn’t speak good”, “I prefer British English or if I prefer American English”, I prefer only English… “that person’s English sounds wrong, I can’t understand”, have you used any of these statements? But here’s the thing, in a real-life situation like a job or an interview, a meeting, a party you’ll meet native speakers from all over the world, different places, with again different accents and it’s your responsibility to understand them and to communicate with them, instead of it being their responsibility to make sure that you understand and don’t complain about their accent, they aren’t going to change how they talk to you, so you don’t need to change either just develop and expose yourself to different English accents so you can understand native speakers better. So what can you do about this? Don’t just listen to one kind of English if you love the sound of classical British English, then it’s fine but listen to other accents too. You can train yourself to understand almost anything, but you need time, yeah and you also need practice. So I suggest that you listen to a range of accents, or range of voices regularly and you’ll be able to understand more of what native speakers say to you. So this is my final tip for you and here we are at the end of the video, I hope by following the tips that I’ve shared with you, it’ll be easier for you to understand native speakers from now on. So be sure that you listen to a wide range of accents, that you practice weak forms and you also try to improve your listening skills and not just your spoken English skills. So all the best I hope your journey of understanding native speakers will be better. See you soon with another interesting video till then take care and keep learning English, bye-bye.

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