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How to understand Spoken English
- Bruce Warburton gives presentations on how to improve oral comprehension. Bruce, why do so many of our students have problems understanding spoken English?
- Well, I think the most important reason is that people often feel insecure and think that if they miss a word they might miss some important information. For this reason, they often want to understand everything.
- Is that a problem?
- Yes, when we listen in our own language we don’t try to hear every word. We don’t need to. We tend to focus on why we are listening. This means that the context makes the meaning clear without understanding all the detail. We also predict what other people are going to say. If I’m talking about a restaurant, a lot of the words I use can be predicted.
- Some students say that English speakers speak too fast and eat their words. How can we help them with this?
- English is no faster than other languages. It’s just that the sounds are distributed differently. Mother tongue speakers don’t pronounce every word separately, we tend to speak in blocks of meaning in which the key words are stressed and the less important vocabulary is suppressed, contracted, or even eliminated For example, in normal conversation, we don’t say “Where do you live?” but “Whered’yerlive?”. Different languages don’t just have different grammar and vocabulary but also different sound systems. Students need to know this.
- So how can we help our students improve there listening skills?
- By training them to listen in the same way that native speakers listen. To focus on meaning, not just words. Also by giving them listening practice that is appropriate to their level and interesting. Understanding spoken English is like any other skill it needs a lot of practice and a good trainer. We help our learners to use modern technology gives which can be used anytime and anywhere.