3 Things to Help You Start Understanding English:
- Learn how people speak: reductions/blending, relaxed speech: real English the way native speakers naturally speak
- Learn real English expressions: colloquialisms, idioms, and slang are all difficult to understand. Learning common expressions will help increase your understanding. Don’t chicken out!
- Learn why people say what they say: understanding how culture influences language will help you understand English in a new way!
Learning these 3 things will help you understand English.
Just by being here and reading this, you have already started! Great job!
1. Understanding spoken English
Learning common expressions and hearing them spoken by fluent speakers will help you improve your English. As you learn about and listen to English, you will hear some words that become blended together. This blending changes the way the words sound. This blending follows patterns. Learning the patterns will help improve your listening skills and understanding of spoken English.
If you have difficulty understanding native English speakers and need subtitles to watch American dramas and sitcoms, learning about blended speech will greatly increase your comprehension. In spoken English, blending occurs when we drop (delete) or link sounds in words to make them shorter. A common example is wanna.
What does wanna mean?
Wanna is a very common example of blending where letters are dropped and sounds change as two words blend into one. You might already know that wanna = want to.
2. Understanding Real English: Idioms and Slang
In addition to listening skills, learning informal but very common and natural phrases and expressions will help you understand English. For example, Cat got your tongue?
You can say Cat got your tongue? when someone is not saying anything, especially when asked a question. If someone says this, they are wondering why someone is not speaking. It is often used when we catch someone doing something wrong, and they don’t say anything.
Common abbreviations used in speech, like FYI and TBD are another example real English that you probably did not learn in a textbook. FYI means for your information and TBD means to be determined. FYI, to be determined does not mean you are determined, it means something will be decided later.
Related post: Internet Slang Guide
3. Understanding why people say what they say
One of the most important and most overlooked aspects of learning a language is understanding the connection between language and culture. Why does English use articles (a, an, the)? How is this related to culture? Why is the format of American names (given name first and family name second) different than the format of Korean names (family name first, given name second)? The answer to these and other questions lies in culture. Learning the reasons behind these language differences will help you make sense of not only language, but also culture.
Never stop learning!