Learning a language in “real life” is always a “level up” from learning languages in a book or in theory or even on Duolingo.
I learned Brazilian Portuguese a few years ago, so it’s actually been a bit challenging to understand the Portugal Portuguese accent. Their accent and some of their vocabulary is very different. Using my own experience, here is what I’m doing in real life situations and I think it will help your real life English too!
1. I’m listening for context
There is no way I can understand every word that’s spoken so I listen for context. I try to understand the main idea behind every conversation. Usually if you can catch a key word or verb, you will understand what the person is saying.
2. I’m asking for clarity
If I don’t understand someone I say, “Can you repeat that?” Or “Just to be sure I’ve understood….” and then I repeat back what I think I heard.
Most people are so kind and tell me, “you speak Portuguese very well”, which I appreciate.
3. I’m practicing vocabulary
Since some of the vocabulary is different here, I’m studying some new words. Instead of “banheiro” they say “casa de banho” for bathroom 🙂
When I hear a new word or phrase in a conversation, I jot it down in the notes app on my phone along with the definition.
Be kind to yourself and remember that learning a language is a journey. You’re not alone!
Here are some tips to prepare for real life English conversations even before they start:
1. Watch English content and Interviews:
Exposure to the language is one of the best ways to prepare to understand it. Ideally you should watch with a notebook to write down new phrases and idioms, but don’t distract yourself too much, you want to try to work on comprehension.
You can always watch some of my English interviews or content on my Youtube channel!
2. Learn Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
English as you may know is full of phrasal verbs and like all languages, English is full of idioms.
It is important to learn these little by little so you can recognize them as a native English speaker is talking.
3. Try to find a English speaker who you feel comfortable with.
It can be hard to find an English speaker if you aren’t in the USA, but if you can on apps like HelloTalk or Tandem, they can be a great source of English practice and also you will learn English idioms and phrases more naturally.