I am 17 from Egypt have been learning English for like 15 years so its supposed to be similar to my native spoken language (Arabic-Egyptian dialect).

During those 15 years, I've been somewhat good at typing and reading English. I knew that I couldn't understand (when in a voice form) or speak English easily but I kinda ignored it.

However since the start of 2020 I started getting sick of that and I started working on improving those 2 skills. I can say that they improved a ton, I can now understand like 80% of an English song or movie- this percentage was like 10% before I started working on improving myself.

But I'm still not the best :/ I hate when I am in a call with my friends whose native language is English and I just stay silent cause I didn't understand what they have said. I hate when I use a speech-to-text service and it understands me in a very random way (understands weird words). This all make me feel dumb and anxious.

Everyone advises to practise but I don't know how to: I continuously check whether I'm pronouncing the words correctly or no, trying hard to understand an English song or video without any subtitles, checking more abbreviations and contractions, checking what syllables should be stressed and what shouldn't. I even now most of the times dream and think in English.

I don't really know what else to do, any help would be appreciated.

  • 2
    Your English writing skills is top notch, be proud of yourself. You're doing really well. I wouldn't be so harsh on yourself, some American songs are incomprehensible to many native listeners, it's only when they can read the lyrics do the songs make any sense. Watch movies and listen to ipod casts to improve your listening skills. You've made great progress, you will continue to make it if you keep practising.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 11:45
  • 2
    If you have English-speaking friends, why not ask one of them to have a one-to-one conversation with you? Then you can tell them what you don't understand and they can correct any mistakes you make..
    – Kate Bunting
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 11:47
  • Have you thought of applying to study (advanced) English in an English-speaking country? Or applying to a university scholarship at a UK university? (Not that I'd recommend UK universities at the moment...)
    – legatrix
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 11:54
  • Interaction with native speakers is key. And in 2020 it's easier than ever to do that from wherever you are. What are your interests? Take a Zoom class, join a gaming clan, whatever. Everybody's doing everything online now.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 12:28
  • Does this answer your question? Looking for a book or class to help me perfect my already fairly good English Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


You can ask your friends for feedback since they are native English speakers. They can catch something you missed OR they can improve your confidence. I know someone who felt like you did and the things they were worried about actually weren't noticeable to me.

If you feel you can't understand well a conversation with your friends or watch a show without subtitles, you can record something and listen to it at a slower speed so you can catch the words better.

I am a native English speaker and have spoken Spanish since birth because of my parents. I don't speak Spanish too often so when I do, I try to speak regularly with confidence that the person will understand what I'm saying, regardless if some words are wrong. It's the same if it's written incorrectly. With just some words correct, we can still know what someone wants to say. Focus less at the moment about every syllable and more on the flow of the conversation.


First of all, do not stress yourself out by aiming for perfect listening and speaking skills. Instead, be proud of your writing and reading skills, develop a positive attitude and continue exposing yourself to the English language as much as possible so that you can further improve your vocabulary and gain more confidence in yourself. In particular, concerning your speaking skills, I would suggest you:

  • Try to speak in front of a mirror so you can feel like you are having a conversation with someone while you don’t have to worry about the time you take to think about what you want to say. In fact, this can encourage you to experiment with a wide range of words and new topics.
  • Record your voice and listen to it so you can have a better understanding of how you are doing and which parts need some improvements.
  • Continue speaking with native speakers. Even if it may seem like an obvious suggestion, it is also the most important one. Even if it may seem like you cannot understand them as you wish, after some time you will start to improve. It is all about practice and patience.

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