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  1. #1
    Vibovit is offline Junior Member
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    Default Natives often don't understand me

    Hello everybody, I'm new at this forum.
    Why do I start this thread? I'm Polish and my English, whilst far from perfect, is quite decent, I think.
    And yet I often face the problem stated in the title of my post.

    Before I came to England, I used to work in the US and my impression is that it seemed much easier for the Americans to understand me than it is for the English. I have no idea why. Here I'm often asked to repeat and people to whom I speak often look painfully concentrated :)

    I even began to think of it as a kind of malicious act - I mean, just to show disapproval of my foreign accent (or perhaps they are less used to foreign accents, especially as I live in a rather small town now).

    Needless to say, it's really worrying, after all the time I've spent working on my English.

    So - what are your views and experience??

    And the natives, what do you feel is the main difficulty in understanding the foreigners - is it vocabulary mistakes, poor gramma, bad pronouncation?

  2. #2
    Ouisch's Avatar
    Ouisch is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    I was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, and always thought that I spoke very clear, easy-to-understand English. But when I go to England, I get the same reaction as you - very often, I am asked to repeat what I've said. I think perhaps the British ear is trained to hear a certain accent, and they have to stop and think twice when presented with a different way of speaking. The same goes in the U.S.; certain British accents (the BBC-style ones) are easy to understand, but a speaker from Liverpool or Edinburgh or Birmingham would probably be asked to repeat himself.

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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    Quote Originally Posted by Vibovit
    Hello everybody, I'm new at this forum.
    Why do I start this thread? I'm Polish and my English, whilst far from perfect, is quite decent, I think.
    And yet I often face the problem stated in the title of my post.

    Before I came to England, I used to work in the US and my impression is that it seemed much easier for the Americans to understand me than it is for the English. I have no idea why. Here I'm often asked to repeat and people to whom I speak often look painfully concentrated :)

    I even began to think of it as a kind of malicious act - I mean, just to show disapproval of my foreign accent (or perhaps they are less used to foreign accents, especially as I live in a rather small town now).

    Needless to say, it's really worrying, after all the time I've spent working on my English.

    So - what are your views and experience??

    And the natives, what do you feel is the main difficulty in understanding the foreigners - is it vocabulary mistakes, poor gramma, bad pronouncation?
    All you have to do is blend in. Of course they use words in a different way - remember - two people divided by one language - speak slowly, please do not use Americanisms as they do not sit well in small town GB, adapt to their particular phrases.

  4. #4
    Vibovit is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    double post, sorry

  5. #5
    Vibovit is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch
    I was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, and always thought that I spoke very clear, easy-to-understand English. But when I go to England, I get the same reaction as you - very often, I am asked to repeat what I've said.
    You comforted me a bit :)
    Quote Originally Posted by Twostep
    All you have to do is blend in. Of course they use words in a different way - remember - two people divided by one language - speak slowly, please do not use Americanisms as they do not sit well in small town GB, adapt to their particular phrases.
    I know, I am trying to do that...
    I'm not sure what it is about "whilst" and "gramma"?
    Last edited by Vibovit; 31-Mar-2006 at 11:50. Reason: `

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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    whilst - gramma

    Check your dictionary.

  7. #7
    Vibovit is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    OK now I realise that I mispelled the latter one Thanks!
    But I still don't know what is the case with "whilst". Please give me a hint.

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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    Quote Originally Posted by Vibovit
    OK now I realise that I mispelled the latter one Thanks!
    But I still don't know what is the case with "whilst". Please give me a hint.
    Try again :>) - realise???
    Whilst is totally outdated. It is great in a Victorian drama but leave it there. Try a good radio station, slow country music, anything with easy words to get your ears used to the sound.

  9. #9
    Vibovit is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    OK now I get it.
    I knew it was more formal than "while", but I thought both were acceptable.
    Cheers ;)

  10. #10
    Hamburg is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Natives often don't understand me

    Vibovit,
    why don't you attach a little microphone to your computer, listen to some audio tracks, and repeat them.
    When you play them, you can hear if your pronunciation and intonation is understandable. If not, try to speak slower and clearer then you may find that you have less problems.

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