Four ways to help listeners understand you

Is it difficult for you to explain things in another language?

Maybe, you’re explaining something about your country or culture. Maybe, you’re explaining something about your job. Maybe, you’re explaining the rules of a game. But, sometimes this can be difficult in another language.

Here are four ways you can help the listeners.

One way is to explain the same thing again in a different way. You paraphrase for the listeners. This means you repeat something using different words. Start your paraphrase with language like ‘In other words…,’ or ‘What I mean is….’ Also, try to use more simple language in your paraphrase.

Here’s an example: In my country, people from different areas sometimes have different accents. What I mean is people from different places sometimes pronounce things differently.

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Another way to help the listeners is to use examples. This will help give the listeners context. You can use language like, ‘for example,’ ‘for instance’ or ‘such as’ to give examples.

Here’s an example: In my country people like to spend time outdoors on weekends. For instance, in the summer, people often travel to lakes or beaches for swimming and barbecues.

One more way is to compare your topic to another thing. It needs to be something simple. It also needs to be something the listeners know about. For example, imagine you are explaining a food from your country. Then, use language like, ‘It looks like…,’ or ‘It tastes like….’

Here’s an example: Pikelets are cakes people in my country sometimes eat with butter and jam. They look and taste like pancakes but are smaller.

Sometimes, it also helps to say what the thing is not like, using language like ‘It’s not like…,’ or ‘It’s different to…’

Extra tip!
  Sometimes it’s a good idea to check the listeners are understanding you. Using eye-contact here can help you. You can also use phrases to check such as Are you following me? or Does that make sense?

Related links:

Five tips for continuing conversations

Can you tell a funny story in English?