Understanding and Being Understood - Part 3



If possible, ask the person to write the word.


For example, you hear “My life is a catastrophe.”


You understand part of what is being said, my life is a, but you don't recognize the last word.

You ask the person to use different words, but the word she chooses, disaster, does not help you understand.

You don't know the word disaster.”

Then she says train wreck, but you don't know the word "wreck" or how her life could be a train.


If possible, ask the person to write the word.


This is helpful for two reasons:


If you speak a European language, you probably have the word catastrophe in your language,

but it may sound very different. If you see the word catastrophe, you might recognize it from your language, though

you could not recognize it by hearing it pronounced in English.

This is true for many words.

You understand now!


You may know a word in English because you have read it before and you understand the

meaning, but you have never heard anyone say the word. You think you know how it should be

pronounced, because you know how to spell it. But remember that English spelling and

pronunciation are often very different. When someone says a word that you know from reading

it, but you have never heard it, you may not recognize it. You will recognize it when you see it.

You understand now!