I don't understand!
Who do you find it more difficult to speak English to, a native speaker or another foreigner? Lots of students say that they find the second option much easier. Often this is because English speakers are quite bad at making their language simpler, for example they choose less formal expressions, which are actually more difficult to understand!
7 Interaction Tips
Here are some tips to help you. Some are more about you speaking, some are about how you listen and some are about both.
- Think in advance about what you want to say and how. Say it in your head first if you can but don’t translate word for word from your own language. Instead think of key words and phrases.
- Think about how you can make what you want to say as clear as possible. Give examples, rephrase what you mean using synonyms and opposites.
- If you don’t know a word that you need, don’t worry. Explain your way around any problems by using expressions like ‘What I mean is...’, ‘What I want to say is...’ or ‘It is like...’
- A conversation is a two-way process. Give the other person the chance to speak but don’t be too quiet either otherwise it becomes a very difficult conversation for them.
- Check understanding. Make sure they have understood you and you have understood them. For example, finish speaking with a question so that they can show they have understood.
- Don’t just focus on the words. Look at the lips, face and body language of the speaker and listen to the tone of voice as well.
- Be relaxed about it all and take some risks. Be confident enough to laugh at your own mistakes or difficulties that occur. The worst thing that can happen is that you will have to say it in a different way!