How to Understand Someone’s Accent

Welcome back everyone! Today we are going to learn a few phrases to help you when you are chatting with someone who has a strong accent and you are not able to understand them. You could ask them nicely to repeat themselves, but how many times can you ask them to repeat themselves without sounding rude? How many times is OK? Tune in to today’s show to find out! Enjoy :)

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[085] – How to pronounce plurals of nouns Ending in –ff, -f, and –fe
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[046] – How to pronounce regular verbs in the past tense

Transcript Snapshot

Hey amigos y amigas, you are listening to the English Made Simple show, this is episode number 2-0-7 number two hundred and seven, numero dos cientos siette.

Welcome to the English Made Simple show, this is Milena from and you are listening to the episode two hundred and seven!

How is it hanging amigos y amigas? What’s new?

Hope everyone is feeling amazing!

We are in December now, approaching the end of the year, I hope you are making plans to take some time off work or studies and are planning to enjoy your end of year.

Ok, so today’s episode is an interesting one. We are moving on from My Teaching Notes and onto something different.

I’ve had a few questions from listeners who are struggling to understand different accents. One of the problems the majority of people have is understanding different accents. Sometimes this is hard to do in person, when you talk to someone in person, let alone over the phone.

I reckon it’s harder to understand someone over the phone just because you are not able to read their body language.

In today’s episode, I am going to share a few phrases you could say when you are finding it difficult to understand someone.

I will share some easy phrases to say when you don’t understand someone…

We are going to learn the FORMAL way to say you don’t understand someone and also the INFORMAL way. So I will teach you the Polite way to excuse yourself when you didn’t understand someone but also the Impolite way – the opposite of Polite is Impolite.

Now, this can be used when you don’t understand someone’s accent when they are speaking to you or when you got distracted and were just not listening to the person at all and you need them to repeat it again.

Normally, asking someone to repeat something once is enough BUT what happens when you didn’t get it the second time and you have to ask them to repeat it again? If you ask someone to repeat something more than twice it can be considered rude or impolite.

This is why the tone is important. The tone of your voice is important. The way you say it is important.

It’s not very nice to say:

“Oh my goodness! Can you just speak properly?”

You cannot say that to a stranger, it would be considered rude. However, you can use it on your spouse, husband or wife.

“Just speak properly! Stop mumbling!”

Only I am allowed to say this! Haha you guys are NOT.

So, as I was saying… pay attention to your voice. You’ll have to be conscious of your tone, avoid shouting at the person, always say “Sorry” or “Excuse me…” Use the magic words “Please” and “Thank you”

So hopefully, after today’s episode you are going to learn how to ask someone to repeat something you didn’t understand politely.

And now, I am going to share 5 or 6 phrases, some are short and some long.

Let’s begin…


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Milena Vujnic

Milena Vujnic

Podcast Host at English Made Simple Podcast


Milena is the host of the English Made Simple Podcast and is passionate about helping English learners break their fear of speaking English so they can confidently make conversation and be understood by other English-speakers.

Milena lives in Australia with her Chileno husband and loves anything podcasting and online coaching and is honoured to be supporting and guiding immigrants from all over the world with her products, programs and coaching services.

Click here to learn more about how you can work with Milena.


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