How to understand fast-talking native English speakers?


Have you ever been frustrated or frustrated that "foreigners' English is too fast to hear"? This is one of the worries that everyone encounters when learning English. Some people may be overwhelmed by laughing and cheating or pretending to understand what they can't hear. Many people who are learning English can hear instructors and audio materials, but cannot hear the natural English spoken by native speakers.

In this article, we will thoroughly explain why native English is too fast to hear and how to solve it.

Causes of native English being too fast to hear

Even if you say "it's too fast to hear", the cause is different for each person. Knowing why you can't hear is very important to overcome. Here, we will look at the causes that cannot be heard.

People who do not understand the "meaning" of English

"I can't understand the meaning" of English means "I can't understand the meaning of the whole sentence", "I can understand the beginning of the sentence but it doesn't have the end of the sentence", and "When I come to the end of the sentence, I forget what I heard at the beginning of the sentence". That. Rather than a problem with listening ability, these people are not able to hear the lack of grammatical knowledge and the inability to keep up with the processing speed of English.

Cause 1: Insufficient grammar knowledge

If you lack grammatical knowledge or have not yet established your knowledge, it is difficult to understand the meaning of the whole English sentence. Words are just the elements that make up a sentence, and the order in which the elements are arranged is the so-called grammar. If you lack grammatical knowledge, even if you can hear a word, it will be difficult to understand its meaning.

English sentences that cannot be understood by reading the script cannot be understood by listening to them, as a matter of course. People who can read and understand the script cannot immediately draw out their grammatical knowledge while listening. In other words, it seems that grammatical knowledge is not firmly established.

Cause 2: Processing speed cannot keep up

Sometimes you can't hear because the processing speed to understand the English you hear can't keep up. In short, the speed of the English you hear is faster than your own processing speed. Therefore, only a part of the sentence remains in the ear like the beginning or the end of the sentence, and it is difficult to understand the meaning of the whole sentence. You cannot understand English faster than you can read and understand it, so you need to read and understand it faster than you can hear it.

People who cannot recognize English "sound"

English has its own unique sounds, and the sounds of words are connected and change or disappear. If you can't recognize the English sound, it's quite difficult to hear it correctly. Such a person is in a state of "I can't hear English" or "I have no idea what I'm saying".

Cause 3: There are many words that do not know the meaning

The same is true for Japanese, not just English, but it is not easy to correctly hear words that you do not know the meaning of. "Ears" are important for listening, but humans perceive sound as vibration through the ears, and the "brain" processes the sound and accumulates semantic data. And when the sound is heard, it is collated with the data in the brain and recognized.

Therefore, data that is not stored in the brain (words that do not know the meaning) cannot be recognized correctly even if you hear it. When memorizing the meaning of a word, it is important to connect it with the correct pronunciation.

Cause 4: Many words do not know the sound

Someone who can understand by reading the script may not recognize the sound of the word correctly. Even if you understand spelling, you cannot understand it because you cannot hear it unless you know how to pronounce it.

Cause 5: Unable to recognize changes in sound peculiar to English

English has its own unique sounds, where words change and disappear as words connect. There is also a peculiar rhythm, and the rhythm is expressed by changing the strength and speed. If you can't recognize the changes and rhythms of the sounds, it will be difficult to hear the English spoken by the natives correctly.

Cause 6: Not accustomed to English frequencies

Frequency is the number of vibrations of sound that is repeated per second. The wavelength range of that frequency is completely different between Japanese and English. The wavelength range of Japanese is 125 to 1,500 hertz, while that of English is very high at 2,000 to 12,000 hertz. It may be difficult to hear because you are not accustomed to this difference.

How to find the cause that is too fast to hear

"Dictation" is a way to find out the cause of inaudibility. Dictation is the practice of writing down every word of the English you hear. Dictation reveals your weaknesses and makes it easier to find solutions.

Dictation procedure

The dictation procedure is as follows. Let's take a quick look at each step.

1. Listen to the full text
2. Write down while stopping the voice
3. Listen to the full text again
4. Self-check without looking at the script
5. Check for mistakes in scripts

Listen to the full text

Before you start, listen to the whole sentence once. Let's guess the contents by grasping the whole contents while listening without looking at the script. The length of the audio material is OK within 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Write down while stopping the voice

Stop the voice one sentence at a time and write it down. Instead of listening to every single word, make up for the parts you couldn't hear with grammar knowledge. The point is to write down while being aware of the meaning. Of course, if you can't hear it, listen to it several times.

Listen to the full text again

Once you've written everything down, don't stop and listen again. Visually check what you wrote down according to the voice, and make corrections and corrections.

Self-check before looking at the script

Self-check before checking with the script. In particular, make sure that articles such as a and the, prepositions such as at, on, and for, and the plural s are not missing. The purpose of self-checking is to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Check for mistakes in scripts

Check against the script and check for any mistakes in the transcript.

How to find the cause that cannot be heard

First, find your mistake in the results of the dictation.

<Conceivable mistakes and situations>
-Unknown words, idioms, phrases
-I knew the words, but the sounds were different from my own recognition
-Articles, prepositions, etc. were omitted
-There were parts that I could not hear no matter how many times I heard them There was
a part that I could understand after listening to it several times.
-There was a part that. I could not understand even if I looked at the script.

For each mistake and situation, we will search for the cause that cannot be heard.

When there are unknown words, idioms, etc.

Needless to say, this applies to cause 3 "many words that do not know the meaning". As I said, words and idioms that don't make sense can't be understood no matter how many times you hear them. First of all, it is necessary to strengthen vocabulary.

If you can't recognize the sound of a word you know

The reason why the sound of a word you know cannot be recognized is thought to be cause 4 "many words do not know the sound" and cause 5 "cannot recognize the change in sound peculiar to English". Cause 6 There is a possibility that you are not accustomed to English frequencies.

When articles, prepositions, etc. are missing

Articles, prepositions, plural s, etc. can be supplemented if you have grammatical knowledge even if you cannot hear them, so cause 1 "insufficient grammatical knowledge" applies. Also, since these sounds are weak and fast, there is a possibility that cause 5 "cannot recognize changes in English-specific sounds" and cause 6 "because you are not accustomed to English frequencies".

If you can't understand it no matter how many times you ask

If you don't understand it no matter how many times you ask, all 1-6 can be the cause. It depends on whether the part that could not be written is a word, a part of the sentence, or the whole sentence, so it is necessary to self-analyze. It is also an important checkpoint to see and understand the script.

If you can understand while listening

If there is something you can understand while listening, it applies to cause 2 "Processing speed cannot keep up". Also, because you may not be accustomed to English sounds and rhythms, it is possible that cause 5 "cannot recognize changes in sounds peculiar to English" and cause 6 "not accustomed to English frequencies".

If you can't understand it by looking at the script

If you can't understand it by looking at the script, it applies to cause 1 "insufficient grammatical knowledge" and cause 3 "many words you don't know the meaning of". Perhaps the audio material is not suitable for your level. If you don't know too many words, you can't check them, so choose an audio material that has few unknown words.

Solution to be heard [By cause]

After finding out the cause that you cannot hear, we will take practice that suits the cause and overcome it.

Cause 1: Solution for people with insufficient grammar knowledge

If you lack grammar knowledge, there is no other way but to learn and deepen your knowledge. That said, you may be confused about what to start with.

For such a person, let's start by mastering the grammar of junior high school English. The grammar used in everyday conversation ranges from medium 1 to high 1, so you need to acquire knowledge to that level.

Of course, if you are aiming for an exam such as TOEIC, you should practice using reference books and question books that are specialized for the exam. Recently, in addition to reference books and problem books, there are many apps that specialize in learning English, so it is recommended to use the apps. You can learn it like a game, or it is organized by grade, such as the first year of junior high school, so try some and find the one that suits you.

Cause 2: Solution for people who cannot keep up with the processing speed

You have to read a lot of English because you need to be able to read and understand it faster than you can hear it.

When practicing, prepare an English script that you want to be able to hear, and read it aloud while measuring the time. At that time, try to understand from the beginning of the sentence, and be careful not to read it back or skip it. If you don't understand the content, read it again from the beginning and practice again and again until the reading speed increases.

The reason for reading aloud is to connect sound and meaning and store it as data in the brain. Words that cannot be pronounced are difficult to hear, so incorporating shadowing will help you get used to the changes in rhythm and sound.

Cause 3: Solution for people who don't know the meaning of many words

If you have many words that you don't know the meaning of, you need to gradually increase the number of words you know. Words you don't know come up endlessly, so try to remember them each time. If you just want to increase your vocabulary, we recommend an app that specializes in words. It is convenient because it is free and can be used for gap time.

Of course, it is also effective to set a goal such as "3 words a day" and remember it. It may be a good idea to write out the word, paste it on the wall, and peel it off once you remember it. There are videos on YouTube's English learning channel that show only words one after another, so let's take advantage of them. Either way, the point is to connect words and sounds to remember them. Also, use the words you have learned more and more if you have the opportunity.

Cause 4: Solution for people with many words that do not know the sound

As already mentioned, you can't recognize a word without knowing it. You need to acquire accurate pronunciation in order to hear it. If you don't know how to pronounce the phonetic symbols, use Google Translate to master the strong pronunciation. Also, check the words used in Kanakana because they may not be audible because the parts that are pronounced strongly are different from English.

After practicing, you need to check if you can pronounce correctly. It's best if you have a native acquaintance, but if you don't, use the pronunciation check app. You may also want to have your pronunciation checked in online English conversation or take a pronunciation correction course.

Causes 5 and 6: Solutions for people who are not accustomed to sound changes and frequencies

It is difficult to learn all the sounds and rhythms peculiar to English, so let's learn from the changes in sounds that often occur. To get used to the changes in sound and frequency, we recommend overseas dramas and movies where you can hear natural utterances. Make good use of English and Japanese subtitles to imitate utterances. Of course, shadowing and repeating are also effective. Here, I will briefly explain the basic changes in sound.

The sound at the end of the word disappears [dropped out]

For "dropping" where the sound at the end of the word disappears, hold down at least [p] [b] [k] [g] [t] [d].

[p] → stop: Lips are shaped like "pu" but hardly pronounced
[b] → club: Lips are shaped like "bu" but hardly pronounced
[k] → snack ( Snack): Lips are shaped like "ku" but hardly pronounced
[g] → big (bit): Lips are shaped like "gu" but hardly pronounced
[t] → get up: Lips Shaped as "to" but hardly pronounced
[d] → road: Lips are shaped like "do" but hardly pronounced

All of these sounds hold your breath at the end of the word. For example, start holds your breath with a "star", but star does not hold your breath with a "star".

The consonant at the end of the word and the vowel at the beginning of the next word are connected [concatenation]

Concatenation means that words are connected one by one without being pronounced independently. Vowels are a, i, u, e, o.

like it: The sounds of k and i are connected
keep it: The sounds of p and i are connected
put on: The sounds of t and o are connected
Can I: n and I (eye) "A") is connected

Sounds different from spelling [Assimilation]

It's similar to concatenation because it connects two words, but assimilation sounds different from the spelling. What should be noted is the connection of the sounds of [d] [s] [t] + [y].

[d] + [y] → told you (Tall Do You → Tall Jew)
[s] + [y] → miss you (Miss You → Mishu)
[t] + [y] → get you (Get You → Get Chu)

[T] [d] sandwiched between vowels becomes a sound like [r] [Flicking sound]

It is a change in sound that occurs in American English, and is pronounced as [t] [d] in British English.

water: water → waller get up: get up → gera letter: letter →
reller better: butter → baller alligator: alligator → alligator ladder: ladder → ladder

Sound intensity and speed

English speaks content words strongly (high) slowly and function words weakly (low) quickly. Content words are semantically important words and do not perform grammatical functions. Function words, on the other hand, are grammatically important words, and the meaning of the word itself is ambiguous. The part of speech of the content word and the function word is shown.

Content words: nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, demonstrative pronouns, possessive pronouns, interrogative words,

My English teacher has brown hair and blue eyes.
( My English teacher has brown hair and blue eyes.)

The underlined parts are the content words. Speak strongly and slowly underlined.