How To Understand Discussions In English

It’s difficult to understand discussions where there are lots of people (often from different countries) and where there’s a lot of background noise.

Here are some things that can help you understand more of what you hear – so that you can take part in discussions more easily.

Understanding fast English

In faster discussions, words often blend into each other. We drop sounds when the next word starts with the same sound (“difficult time” becomes “difficul-time”) and we change the sounds in fast speech (“Did you” becomes “di-chu”).

So it helps to get practice listening to faster, more spontaneous speech. Try:
– TV shows (chat shows, reality TV)
– podcasts (especially where there are guests)
– comedy stand-up (this is great for listening to anecdotes and stories)

Understanding ‘signals’

In meetings and discussions, the conversation can go quite fast. But there are ways that you can follow the discussion and take part.

One way is to learn a few “discussion phrases” which ‘signal’ what someone is going to say. For example, there are standard phrases to interrupt someone / to prevent interruption, to give your opinion or to show that you agree, etc. You can get a list of useful phrases here:
Chairing International Meetings

Understanding people from different countries

Often, it can be difficult to understand people from around the world. If you’re meeting people regularly from a specific place, you can train your ear to understand their accent by using the International Dialects Of English Archive.

With voices from all around the world, you can learn to understand different types of pronunciation.

Get regular listening practice!

One of the best ways to improve your listening is to take part in conversations and discussions. When you join the English Fluency Club, you can do this four times a month in a small group! Click the button below for the details.