A Real American Conversation (Step by step!)

By 21 April 2020 Video lessons 10 Comments
understand real conversations in English

Having real, authentic conversations. With your friends. With your favorite coworkers. With a client, to build a connection.

That’s a main goal of learning English… But it’s also one of the hardest things for you to do!

How can you understand American people, when they talk so fast? When they “forget” to pronounce clearly half of their words? When they use real-life expressions that you don’t know?

It’s also a skill you can use with Podcasts in English or TV Series in English… But conversation is the #1 goal.

Let me help you with that.

I’m your English coach Christina, and in today’s episode, I’m going to introduce you to my friend Michael. He makes an appearance in my program Understand Real American English. He’s a former Marine who now lives in Texas, and we’ve been friends forever, like since we were born!

Index:

1. Understand a real American conversation: “Meet Michael”
2. Understand a real American conversation (Part 1): Accents and vocabulary
3. Understand a real American conversation (Part 2): Filler words and advice

 


1) Understand a real American conversation: “Meet Michael”

Here is one minute of my conversation with Michael.

What can you understand?

(The full conversation–and many other conversations–are available with explanations, transcripts and exercises in my course Understand Real American English)


2) Understand a real American conversation (Part 1): Accents and vocabulary

Now, let’s try explaining what’s going on, with a full transcript and comments.

Are you ready for the first part? Here it comes!

Notes:
Like me, Michael is from Mississippi, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. And you can hear it in his accent!

For example, the words aren’t as clearly separated maybe as my accent. But that’s how it works in real life!

English speakers will put more emphasis on the stressed syllables, and will not speak the rest of the word as clearly. For instance: HElicopter MeCHAnic. 

If you don’t understand a word because of the stressed syllables, don’t panic. There are lots of ways you can clarify things when you don’t understand something in English.

Finally, you might have noticed that American military uses the French pronunciation for Marine Corps. The final “p” and “s” are silent, or it will sound like “Corpse” (a synonym for a dead body!)

Notes:
So here I interject, and we speak some words over each other. That’s what happens sometimes in real conversation, too. Especially for Americans!

Junior high or junior high school is another name for middle school, the school for teenagers aged between thirteen and fifteen, more or less.

Learn more about the American School system here!


3) Understand a real American conversation (Part 2): Filler words and advice

Notes:
We’re both using filler words while we’re looking for the words to finish my sentence: “Okay… Well… uh…” 

Sometimes a sentence isn’t grammatically correct in the end, but it’s OK! Like, “Any advice for… ?” doesn’t have a verb here.

It could be “Do you have any advice for… ?”  for example.

But the shorter sentence, without a verb, is fairly common anyway, so Michael understands the question. And if you also know some idiomatic expressions in English, this can help you understand quickly without having to think about grammar and vocabulary!

Notes:
“If you don’t say it the correct way, you’ll eventually get it right.” 

He’s right! Practice, and studying real conversations, will help you improve your English in the long run!

And that’s exactly the kind of thing you can find in Understand Real American English.

Your turn now: 

How much did you understand the first time?
How much did you understand, with the subtitles?

Tell me, share it with the world in the comments below!

When I first arrived in France, I felt like I didn’t understand a lot of conversations around me. And I couldn’t participate! I made a whole video where you can find my whole story: My Immersion Story 

And the lessons that I learned in my experience with French will help you learn English better and faster! See you in that episode!

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