"I grew up in India and as a result English is my second language. I am looking to improve my comprehension when I read my text books or watch movies, I feel I can understand parts of everything but am left to connect the dots myself - which obviously makes it difficult to have a long conversation. And a lot of times I see my self uselessly nodding even when I am not able to grasp everything that is being said. If you have any pointers that can help me I would really appreciate it."Here is my answer:
If it makes you feel any better, I've been in many conversations where people are just nodded their head not grasping everything, and English is their first language :-)
That said, improving your comprehension as you're doing is a great start. In addition, you can do a few things.
1. Write down the topic of discussion or a specific word to research later. I do this when I'm talking with people in other industries who bring me in to speak and I have no idea what they are talking about in regards to specifics in their industry. I do nod my head like you, but I do it to create rapport, knowing later I will look up the subjects they were discussing.
2. You can ask a question for clarification. Be loud and proud of where you come from and say, "I'm from India, so English is my second language. I'm fascinated by what you're talking about, so can you clarify what you mean by _____ because it's not translating for me."
3. Listen carefully. I'm sure you think you're already doing that, yet sometimes, when you "notice" that you're not comprehending, you start to have thoughts "narrating" what you're experiencing" so you don't hear everything that is being said. For example a narration might be... "What did he just say? I don't understand that. This is so frustrating. I wish I understood English better" and the thoughts keep coming and all of a sudden you've missed 30 seconds of what was said making it even more confusing.
Hope these tips help. And know that it will continue to get easier.
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