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Reasons You May Be Struggling to Understand Spoken English and How to Improve Your Listening

Listening comprehension can be trickier than most people make it to be...especially under exam conditions.

Note-taking, fast-paced of speech, distractors, the intricacies of natural speech....



The Perplexities of Natural Speech 口語的複雜性

Understanding native English speakers can prove difficult due to certain linguistic features that are common in natural speech but are not taught in school:


a) Reduction 語音縮減

Native speakers often employ reduction, where sounds, words, or syllables are shortened or omitted. Common examples include contractions (e.g., "can't" instead of "cannot") and weak forms (e.g., "wanna" instead of "want to", "n" instead of "and", "ts" instead of "it's"). Familiarizing yourself with these reductions is crucial for accurate comprehension. And "reduction" is what enables native speakers to speak so quickly (and therefore making it difficult for you to understand).

英文口語通常採用縮減音調,縮短或省略聲音、單詞或音節。 常見的例子包括contractions(例如,“can't”而不是“cannot”)和省略音節(例如,“wanna”而不是“want to”,“n”而不是“and”,“ts”而不是“it's ”)。 熟悉這些特徵對理解很重要。

b) Linking/Connected Speech 連音

In connected speech, native speakers link words together, resulting in blending sounds. This is especially common when the second word starts with a vowel. (e.g., "an-napple" instead of "an | apple ")

This linking phenomenon can be challenging to decipher, particularly for non-native speakers.

Surrounding yourself with English audio resources such as movies, TV shows, podcasts, and radio programs and exposing yourself to real-world conversations will help you become attuned to natural speech patterns, vocabulary, and cultural nuances.

將音節/單詞連接在一起,從而產生混合聲音。 當第二個單詞以vowels 元音開頭時,這種情況尤其常見。 (例如,“an-napple”而不是“an | apple”)


c) Fast Pace 說話速度快

Natural speech maintains a brisk tempo, making it challenging to process each word or sound individually. Understanding the overall meaning requires training your ears to follow the rhythm and flow of the speaker.

自然語音保持輕快的節奏,我們無可能單獨聆聽及吸收每個單詞或聲音。 訓練你的耳朵跟隨英語的節奏和流暢。

d) English accents 口音差異

The range of accents spoken by native speakers goes far beyond the commonly-known "British" and "American" accents. Regional accents can be especially difficult to understand. (ever tried to communicate with a Scot?)

Repeated exposure to different accents will help you adapt to different pronunciation styles and enhance your overall listening flexibility.

母語人士所說的口音範圍遠遠超出了通常所說的“英國”和“美國”口音。 地方口音尤其難以理解。 (曾經嘗試過與蘇格蘭人交流嗎?)


Dictation and Transcription 默寫

Develop your listening skills by regularly practicing dictation exercises. Listen to short recordings and try to transcribe what you hear accurately. Compare your transcription with the original text to identify areas for improvement and which linguistic/pronunciation features often trip you up.

通過定期練習默寫練習培養聽力。 聽簡短的錄音,並嘗試準確地摘錄寫下聽到的內容。 與原始文本進行比較,找出需要改進的地方,以及哪些語言/發音特徵經常考起你。

Subtitles and Transcripts 字幕

When watching English videos or listening to podcasts, utilize subtitles or transcripts initially to aid comprehension. Gradually reduce your reliance on them as your listening skills improve.


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