How to understand different accents

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

One of our subscribers has asked us about how to keep up with somebody who is a fluent English speaker and speaks fast, too. This is a great question as I’m sure there are many of us who have trouble understanding people who talk fast. Plus, there are a lot of different accents out there.

We may be accustomed to listening to Malaysian English speakers, and find ourselves lost when we visit another country where English is the native language. There’s American English that we’re kind of used to from watching TV, British English, Australian English, and, since English is a language used all around the world, there are hundreds of different accents that I can’t possibly list them all here!

Personally, I sometimes find it hard to understand people who speak Australian English really fast. But I believe that once we hear it often enough, we can get used to it.

Here’s how to get a head start – watch a lot of videos/television shows in which there are people who speak with the accent you want to understand. Turn on the English subtitles. You will then hear how they pronounce certain words in that particular accent, and soon enough, it won’t sound like a foreign language anymore.

As an example, I mentioned that I find it harder to understand Australian accents. I was watching an Australian documentary the other day and I referred to the subtitles whenever I heard a word that I didn’t understand. By the end of the show, I was referring less to the subtitles because I found myself getting used to their accents and I understood them better! (I also think my “G’day mate” sounds pretty convincing, but let’s not go there.)

Before I end here, just note that if you don’t understand what someone has just said to you, they most likely wouldn’t mind if you asked them to repeat themselves. Sometimes people just don’t realise that they’re speaking too fast or that others do not understand their accents.

Now share with us the accents you find difficult to understand in the comments section below! We love hearing from you!

Interested to learn more from us? How about joining our free email course, Speaking with Confidence? Sign up below and we’ll send you 7 tips to your inbox!

Do you want to speak English with confidence?

Sign up to join our free video training, Speaking with Confidence. We’ll send you seven tips to your email address!

Here’s Tip 1 for a sneak peek of what’s in store for you.

Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

You may have seen us on: