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Tips on learning how to understand natives

I have a question to those of you who've learnt Spanish or are still learning. Right now, I have found the biggest obstacle for me is to understand people. I am in Spain but every time someone starts to talk to me, it's mostly incomprehensible for me.

I'm still working on my grammar and vocabulary, of course, but I'm sure I would be able to talk to people already if only they just spoke slowly and pronounced more properly. I mean, I get it, we all do that when we speak in our native language but if I can't get people to slow down, what can I do? How does one learn to hear the words in between the mesh of rapid speech with possibly unknown words in the mix? Am I maybe too early to do that?

Do you have any tips, what have you used when learning to understand others?

On a side note, I am in Andalucía and the strong accent is not helping things :o)

Aug 12, 2016 3:42 PM
Comments · 6

Well, as a teacher, I can advise you to practise as much as you can with Spanish natives here in Italki. It's a controlled environment and you will be able to tell them to speak slowly or to explain you those words you don't understand, which is not possible in real life sometimes.


It's important because the more hours you........ :O Wait, sorry, I have just checked your profile, apparently I offered you help some time ago and you never even answered :( Well... then my advice should probably be: "when natives offer you help in Italki, at least answer them..." :D

August 12, 2016

Evi, I feel your pain. My biggest problem with languages (especially Spanish) is comprehension. I came home from the Costa Del Sol yesterday and some peoples accents confused me. 

Everyday I work on comprehension just by listening to the radio, music and podcasts (check out 'notes in spanish' podcast) but i find that if you have a good knowledge of words, when you know what they mean without thinking, you understand so much more. 

I also answer questions before I ask them. For example, I asked a waiter if I had to request the bill or go to the counter and pay. I hardly understood his long answer (he was trying to be friendly) but what I did understand he said 'dont worry, bring for you' among a lot of blurred, fast talk. Or try to get people to only use a yes or no answer. You'll find as you get better you'll be asking more complex questions and understanding more. 

August 12, 2016

Evi, this is normal. You have to accept that if your Spanish is at a beginner level, there is no way you are going to understand totally what is being said by a native speaker, who is speaking very quickly. The mesh of rapid speach are words and phrases you do not know.  

It takes time and you have to find someone who will speak rapidly, then repeat and explain it slowly so you understand. Afterwards they repeat the phrase again at full speed so you become used to it.

Start with simple things using the grammar and vocabulary you've have learned and build up from there.

August 12, 2016
you could ask to speak more slowly, and of course the practice is the biggest solution! keep practicing, listening! 
August 12, 2016
Hi Evi.

I just recommend you try to speak a lot (with others or even you alone) and avoid the shyness.

And of course, also read a lot of articles about interesting topics for you. Read in loud voice and hear yourself.

The only way to improve your Spanish skills is practicing. Don't give up, everybody can do it, if not, just imagine a country with people that can't talk between each them, because a certain language isn't for everybody. So, everybody can.

Further, at first, everyone pass for this situation when is learning a new language. So, don't worry and keep practicing a lot.

August 12, 2016
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Language Skills
Czech, English, Japanese, Spanish
Learning Language
English, Spanish