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For Students: Understanding Native Speakers

You might think it is great and life is rosy to be a native speaker of English, but not all the time. Firstly, some people feel a little pressured and nervous when speaking to native speakers. The fear of making mistakes, and the fear of embarrassment of not understanding what they say is quite real. Many moons ago I once asked a receptionist where I was staying 'do you speak English' which she replied 'no, sorry' I then went to sit down across the room and watched as she walked over to a Spanish group and spoke English and answered some of their questions. Hmmm. Later that day she came over to me to apologise and explain for the very same reasons as above she was afraid.

Secondly, as the majority of us don't speak another language we don't understand what it's like to communicate in another language and so we aren't aware that when we ask 'do you speak English?' that the person who 'yes' they might struggle with our speed, language and word choice

Most of us will never or very rarely communicate with native speakers, and the bulk of us will communicate with other speakers of English as a foreign language, but we all do like to watch English films or TV programmes and there are a few things to help understand English native speaking people, or those who speak native-like by looking at the following things.

Contractions: This is when two words become one. For example I am usually always becomes I'm when speaking. Knowing what they sound like and what they mean will help understanding. Let's look at some.

I will / I'll He'll / she'll I've / you've

I'd / he'd/ she'd Might/could've/ might of of

Where've / where have Isn't it / innit

Going to / gonna Let me / lemme

Have to / hav-ta Got to / Gotta

Don't know / dunno Want to / wanna

Should've / shudda Sort of / sorta

Has to / Hasta Kind of / Kinda

Give me / gimme Out of / outta

Don't you / dontcha Need to / Neeta

Words: these words change their sound when spoken quickly

Been – bin

You – ya

To – ta

Squashed questions: this is when the words of a question get squashed together and sound very different from the words we use in the question

What do you.... – Wod-ja...

How is it going? – How-sit-going?

How do you.... – howd-ja...

How are you? - Ho-wa-ya?

What is it... - Wotsit

Have you ever been to – Have you ever bin-ta...

Do you understand the sentence?

I'm going to read 10 sentences at natural pace twice.. Listen and try to understand. If you like you can try and write down each sentence.


I will see go and see him tomorrow

Give me the TV controller I want to turn over

Let me see if I've got a spare battery

I don't know where the pen is. I have to go in 10 minutes and I need it

Have you ever been to Spain?

It's hard to explain, it's kind of like a a fish but it's not

What do you think the weather is going ta be like tomorrow.

I should have listened to her

I'm not sure she might've gone to see her mother

I need to see him before he goes on Wednesday

Excuse the cock-up on number.,


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