Why are native speakers so difficult to understand?
This question applies to any language. I have been told by non-native English speakers that is far easier to understand non-native English speakers (with few exceptions) than it is to understand most native speakers.
I noticed this myself in Germany. At first I often found it easier to understand to understand the German spoken by non-Germans than by the Germans themselves.
Why is this so?
Because native speakers are so used to their language that they speak a lot faster, and use idioms, and expressions that only feel comfortable to them. Other non native speakers are in the same boat as each other (here is an example of an idiom that I only use because I am native English), so they speak in the same way.
Stephen, I'm german. If you start leaning a foreign language, you start pronuncing very slow and clearly and and so do everyone learning that language as non-native. You don't use slang, because you start with the standard language. You don't gulp parts of words. You probably don't use idioms. As a native speaker, you most likely aren't aware of doing all that stuff, causing that you're difficult to understand by non-native speakers.
<<Other non native speakers are in the same boat as each other (here is an example of an idiom that I only use because I am native English), so the speak in the same way.>>
In German, there's a similar idiom: ''im selben Boot sitzen''.
So if languages (and cultures) are related, there's probably some overlap on the idioms.
It's not like that, native speakers are a lot easier to understand, at least the ones that speak with the accent you are more used to. That said, I guess that if you are not used to listening to any native accent, then whatever thing is possible.
If you can't understand native speakers of the language you are learning then you have gone wrong somewhere. What's the point of learning a language if you can't understand native speakers of that language?
Russians have a similar idiom about the boat - В одной лодке - literally, In the same boat
Can you use it in French?
Dans le meme bateau
Some idioms commute others do not. It is a bad idea to literally translate an idiom unless you are sure it exists in the other language.
"If you can't understand native speakers of the language you are learning then you have gone wrong somewhere. What's the point of learning a language if you can't understand native speakers of that language? "
Then why do so many people learn English? They don't do it so that they can speak to North Americans, Brits Irish and the like. They do it because for some reason English is today perceived as being "international" (which I can't stand) Ever tried to correct a German's English grammar? They seem to think that they have a better grasp of the language than most native speakers and will actually argue with them about it.
So I doubt that Germans at least learn English to be able to communicate with native speakers, but rather just to appear "international". If they really wanted to communicate with native speakers then they would be willing to actually accept English language help from native speakers, but MANY of them do not.
. (btw I am speaking from experience here)
I think it's funny when I hear the occasional German putting the verb right at the end of the sentence, German style, when speaking English. Maybe they think that that the correct format in English it should be.
I don't think that Germans fall over themselves in the rush to speak English solely to communicate with native English speakers either. English is now the "International Language" whether they, the Germans, or the French for that matter, like it or not.....it's just the way things have panned out on the global scene, so they have no option but to use English on the international scene.
I know that the majority of the very large number of Poles here in the UK at the minute have a massive aversion to the German Language, so it's a fair bet that these Poles would prefer to use English when communicating with Germans. The Poles themselves are mostly in their 20s btw. The cool Polish guy who served me coffee at the Stirling motorway service station earlier this week spoke faultless English, and he used Scottish colloquial expressions as well. That was really nice.
<<At first I often found it easier to understand to understand the German spoken by non-Germans than by the Germans themselves.
Why is this so? >>
Because German speakers of English who are not terribly proficient at it will use sentence structures and expressions that are straight out of German. So a German listening to this style of speech will find it very easy to translate it word for word in their head. They will also hear familiar vowel and consonant sounds that probably help them remember their written lessons.
However, a native English speaker listening to this style of speech will hear unnatural sentence structures, major errors in grammar and idiom, and a heavy German accent, which in turn may make it hard for THEM to understand the speaker.
<<What's the point of learning a language if you can't understand native speakers of that language?>>
Indeed. My father's wife is a German speaker who has lived in the US for several years now. She still speaks with the heavy accent, poor grammar, and odd word order that I described above. And she admits to making it a point to NOT speak to Americans on the phone, because she complains that our accents are impenetrable. I think her stated excuse is that she learned British English, but the sad fact is that the only even vague vestige of British in her voice is a tendency to use the "ah" in father where we would use the "ae" in cat -- ahfter, lahst. You would certainly never mistake her for a native of the UK -- she sounds very, very German. And very hard to understand at times -- sometimes you're lucky to just get the gist of what she's saying. And unfortunately she will never improve if she refuses to make the effort by making these lame excuses to herself.