9 Tips to Understand Conversational English when Conversing with Fast Native English Speakers

Learning how to listen in English is quite challenging. Have you tried to engage in some conversations only to be confused with what the other person is saying?

I mean. The person is just speaking too fast for you to understand them. It’s like they’re literally spewing some alien words.

They might be excited or passionate about something that’s why they speak so fast. Or probably, you’re just not accustomed yet to listening to English conversations.

What’s the use of learning English if you can’t listen effectively to find the meaning in their words? Worry not. All it takes is practice and the right training.

Here are 9 tips to understand conversational English when conversing with fast native English speakers.


Check the Emotion in the Statement

Sometimes, native speakers contract words that aren’t essential to the meaning of their statement. It is true, especially when they want to say something important that they are excited about.

Check what their emotion while they are expressing. Are they happy? Or Are they alarmed? Maybe they are in a hurry because it’s an emergency.

We can feel emotion regardless of any language. By knowing the feeling they are coming from, you can probably figure out the context of the speech.


Catch Words that Are Stressed or Emphasized

We don’t need to hear every word to get the meaning of a sentence. In conversations, people stress certain words to express its importance. These are words that are spoken either with the longest or the highest pitch.

Probably, it will be the main point of the sentence.


Detect Ideas or Words that Are Repeated

When we tell a story, we unconsciously tend to repeat the ideas or words of the thing we want to convey the most. It’s good to know this when listening to fast English speakers.

So if you miss some words at the start of the fast spoken sentences, you can probably listen to repeating words or ideas in the succeeding ones to get the gist of the topic.


Ask for Clarification

Conversations are supposed to let each other understand the ideas they want to convey.  If your friend is speaking so fast, you might miss some words from all this talk.

If you can’t understand some of the words, it’s not rude to ask them for clarification.

You can say, “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you repeat what you said?”

They will understand. And they will probably appreciate that you are giving the effort to properly discern what they’re saying.


Repeat What They Said to Confirm Their Point with Your Own Words

People appreciate it when you genuinely listen to what they have to say. And one technique is to repeat the main point of their point using your own words.

It will not only show that you are listening. You can also confirm if your understanding is correct.


Watch Movies or Series

Movies are a good training ground to understand conversational English. The actors speak words like how they will do in regular conversations. You can also learn slang and idioms, which will come handy when you talk in real life.

And to boot, it’s quite entertaining! You can start with these 4 Movies to Learn English.


Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are a growing resource for English learners because we are usually busy with too many errands and to-dos. With podcasts, you can just listen to English conversations while doing something else.

It’s like training your ears with an English talk show. As a bonus, the topics covered can be informative and enjoyable for you.

You can also read this: Top 10 Podcasts to Help You Learn English


Shadowing Technique

You can push your listening to audio with the shadowing technique. It involves mimicking how an English speaker says their words repeatedly. It’s quite simple.

You just need to find an audio clip with a transcript. And then repeat as if you are the one speaking. You need to shadow their pronunciation, word stress, intonations, and rhythm. Here are the steps.

  • Listen while reading the transcript in your head. No speaking yet.
  • Listen while speaking the transcript exactly as how the speaker says it.

The shadowing technique will not only hone your listening skills. It will also improve your speaking skills as well.


Practice, Practice, Practice

This might be a setback at first. Do not be discouraged. Still talk in English and listen to what they have to say. In time, you can adjust to their speed.

And one way to shortcut your learning is by getting a practice partner. What better way than hiring a tutor for your English learning? LingualBox can help you to speak more and learn English faster.

LingualBox offers affordable one-on-one English tutoring with certified instructors for as low as $2 per session. Learn to converse with English speakers regardless of your current skill level.

With that, have fun with your English conversations!


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Miko Eclipse is a digital nomad writer who travels the world while working online! He likes to meet new people, experience the culture, and gobble on the best food the country has to offer. English is his 2nd language for travel. And it can be yours as well by reading our weekly updates on our blog!