Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

When you’re in a fast English conversation and you don’t understand what the other person is saying sometimes just asking the person to repeat won’t help you at all!

They might repeat the phrase a bunch of times at the same speed and you still won’t catch it so you need to ask them to slow down.

Today get four ways to make sure they SLOW DOWN!

Hope you are doing great. Thanks a lot for your wonderful podcasts & videos which have helped me a lot in improving my English speaking & listening skills.

I have a question for you. During my visit to England last year I found that sometimes it was difficult for me to understand the accent of natives especially the ones who belonged to the country side. Also during telephone conversation sometimes the natives (hotel receptionist, customer care executives etc.) spoke very fast & some of them had hard accents. I wanted them to repeat what they said slowly so that I could understand what they mean. I used words like ‘Sorry’, ‘Pardon’, ‘I beg your pardon’ etc. expecting them to repeat their sentences slowly. They did repeat it but with the same speed & accent. I just wondered whether I could tell them ‘Please slow down a bit’ or ‘Please speak slowly so that I can understand’ without offending them. It’s not that I don’t understand British English; when I watch BBC I do understand most of it.

I guess many non natives face similar problems when they visit English speaking countries for the first time. So could you suggest some phrases that we can use to request the natives slow down their speed of speaking so that we can understand what they mean to say.

Best Regards,


From New Delhi, India

Thank you for asking this question!

There are so many different accents that you might encounter within cities like London and outside of London in the countryside.

Sometimes these accents can be hard even for native speakers and we have encountered this in our travels abroad.

Lindsay was in Scotland in 2007 and she had a really hard time understanding the Scottish accent.

Michelle went to Wales and had trouble understanding as well.

We have already done an episode on how to ask natives to repeat.

Go here to get the episode on 5 Ways to Ask Native English Speakers to Repeat.

What should Mayank do?

He should ask the speaker to repeat but this might not get the person to slow down.

They might just say it again.

The words”pardon” or “sorry” are just asking to repeat and not to slow down.

You need to be more specific that you want people to slow down.

How to get someone to slow down:

  • “Sorry, I’m learning English. Would you mind slowing down a bit?”
  • “A little bit slower please?”
  • “One more time but slower?”
  • “I don’t follow you. Could you slow down?”
  • “I’m not following you.”

What questions do you have from today?

Have you tried using these expressions yet?

Let us know how they worked.

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