The way to learn to understand spoken English

Listening comprehension is one of the most challenging areas that learners of English have to deal with.

We often think that it is mostly because we don’t have enough vocabulary to understand native speakers. However, often this is not the main reason.

English is a stress-timed language.

In other words: English is a musical language.

Spanish, for instance, is a syllable based language.

In Spanish you have the luxury of pronouncing all the syllables you need with “equal clarity”, and take all the time you need for it.

In English this works differently. It’s like you have a specific amount of time to do the same. Which is closely related to how word-stress and sentence-stress are used in spoken English.

Which creates compression in spoken English. The result is, some things will sound crammed.

Consequence: it becomes harder to understand English speakers because certain syllables seem to “disappear” when you listen to them. You can read the printed words clearly but you don’t hear all of them equally clearly.

1-Minute Tip ⏳

Listen to compression in spoken English when training.

If you don’t listen this way, you will want to hear every word equally clearly, which is counter-productive.

In English there are words we can hear clearly (usually stressed), and words that we can’t.

With practice, we can fill in these “empty” regions from experience and intuitive grammar knowledge.

This comes with time and adequate training.

There is no need to hear every bit of sound. It’s actually impossible, because they are not always pronounced clearly.

It would be very inefficient for our brain to have to hear each and every sound to be able to understand a speaker.

It would be a complete waste of energy.

Rather, our brain will perform the gap-fill task on its own, once we have trained it.

That is the way to learn to understand spoken English.

What this will give you is a more relaxed way of listening, better comprehension results, and some more free brain space 🙂

This content is original and not AI generated. I write it for you based on my 20+ years of teaching experience.

👋 Hi, I’m Gábor

I help Spanish speaking small businesses sell their products and services successfully in English.

Talk to you next time. 🙂

Gábor 🙂

Connect | Gábor Légrádi | MA, RSA/CTEFLA

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