Supporting Units


AD.13.02.13. In a class, I raised a question as to why the students found listening to English utterances is a serious challenge. Some said:

"The words were just too fast to understand"
"I got panic when I don't understand every word"
"Some words are just hardly said. They are swallowed." ...


"It sounds like a noise only to me."

"I can only undersand some parts of the whole. I fail in getting the message."

I think what my students are referring to, amongst others, the stress-timed aspect of English. The stress-timed aspect of English should be at least partly responsible for the case mentioned.

In fact, in spoken English, sound adjustments or modifications, such as linking, vowel reduction, deletion, palatalization, alveolar flapping, glottalization, intrusive /r/, and consonant cluster simplification, commonly occur in the stream of speech. Celce-Murcia et al. (1996) call these phenomena “adjustments in connected speech,”. Also, some phonologists call them “post-lexical processes”  or sound adjustments or modifications in connected speech.

In short in the process of speaking native speakers of English may reduce, link, or delete some sounds or even some  words in speech. An utterance like DOG EAT DOG would sound "do-geat-dog"; LEFT ARM would sound like "lef-tarm"; TWO FOF THEM would be spoken as "two-ovem"; and I LIKE HER would sound like "I liker".

This fact of course is not the case when Bahasa Indonesia is concerned. There is no such process in the language. They are not attested in Bahasa Indonesia phonological processes.

As a result, Indonesian speakers of English may got confused when to understand an utterance in speech that has undergone any of these processes.


If you are undergoing this listening challege, one amongst other tricks that you might try is your "I-pod". Enrich your Ipod with real life conversations of English among the native speakers. You might want to get  the recordings from any source available.

Spend at least one hour per day to listen to your collections.  You might feel a bit intimidated in the beginning, but you will be getting more and more comfortable in time. I warn you, never change the sources until you are sure that you understand every bit of the conversation.When you think you have got used to it, then you might want to change the sources. Please do it repeatedly.

In time, the sharp increase of your, for example, TOEFL score in the listening section should indicate that finally you manage to fight against the challege of listening to English.

Keep trying!OK?