The general feedback what I get: we understand eachother, but generally they aren't satisfied. But is only an impression from indirect effects.

Of course I can ask them, but unfortunately I see major obstacles to get a realistic answer:

  1. They often don't really understand, what I ask.
  2. They want to be polite, and thus they will distort the reality into a positive direction.
  3. I've also experienced a contextual effect. Native speakers who are interested to cooperate with me (for example, we have common workplace goals), somehow find my English significantly better.

The result is that I simply don't have any option to know, how my English sounds for them.

  • You've been asking wrong people, I guess. You either need a good friend who's not afraid to hurt your feelings, or a complete stranger who couldn't care less about how you feel upon hearing what they have to say. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 19:32
  • Be sure to explain whether you want them to help you with your accent or with your grammar. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 20:53
  • 2
    @whywasinotconsulted Thanks - they say often useful feedbacks, but not being language teachers, they can't really say, what is bad and how could I improve. They can only say "it is quite understable, don't worry", and similar, which is very good to hear, but isn't really informative. If they would say: "don't take it seriously, but your accent sounds to me as a klingon", it would be maybe not so good to hear, but it would be very informative.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 2:52
  • The majority of English I hear is spoken by people who don't speak my dialect (RP - roughly the dialect used traditionally by the BBC) and so I, and most British English speakers I suspect, get so used to others poor pronunciation that they get out of the habit of trying to correct it. You may find encouragement or training those who really care will help. If you were my friend and made it clear you wanted to the help, I'd give you at least as much criticism as you would want :-). Eg, I would not say "I see ... to get a" or "interested to cooperate" and I would tell you. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


You could record yourself talking, then type down what you said, and see if you're making any linguistic mistakes in your speech you are not making in your writing.

I think you should identify if this is a content or a presentation issue in your speech causing the confusion. It could, of course, be a little of both.

The third entry in your list makes me think this might be an accent issue, and thus presentation. Many accents become easier to understand over time, so people you work with - and thus talk to more - will understand better than people off the street. There's probably not a lot you can do about that, but there are some options:

  1. Find a group that does presentation/pitch/similar practice. Look on Meetup, Facebook, or other websites for your area. You can probably get feedback from at least someone in such a group on specific parts of your speech that are confusing.
  2. Alternatively, find some sort of ESL group. This would probably be easier if you're in a big city, or your native language is more common (Spanish/Chinese). Some might be intended for only native speakers of certain languages. You could, however, ask even those groups if they would be alright with you participating. I doubt they'd say no.
  3. Take a class (possibly ESL, possibly not) at a community college that's heavy in presentations and ask the teacher to help you. They probably will be happy to note down any issues for you.

In any case, make sure to just tell the people involved you're there because you want to improve your spoken English.

If you are having issues with your content, that would likely be connected to your writing. You could try something like writing fanfiction. Let me tell you from experience, criticism is easy to come by in such a field even for native speakers. Writing dialog for characters - as opposed to, say, posts on StackExchange - will force you to use the same kind of language that you would use in normal speech, and might let you find errors in it that could throw people off.

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