Why you no understand?
Although I’m very used to hearing English spoken by non-native speakers, I do sometimes have difficultly understanding some of what they say. This is often because of mispronunciation and/or misplacement of word stress. Sometimes people have to repeat a word several times before I work out what they’re trying to say.
The same happens to me when I’m speaking other languages. I do my best to get the pronunciation and intonation correct, but am not always successful, which leads to confusion in the minds of those I’m talking to.
Sometimes it’s not the pronunciation, word stress or intonation that lets me down, but the way I put my sentences together and/or the words I use. I may get the words in the wrong order, or use words that are unusual or obscure. Fortunately in some languages you can get away with mixing the words up, as the word order is flexible.
I was talking about this with a Japanese colleague this morning. She told me that at a party she went to recently, where there was a mixture of English and Japanese people, the English people were all speaking English slowly and clearly to make sure that Japanese could understand them. Later she overheard the English people talking amongst themselves and found it quite difficult to understand them as they were speaking at normal speed and using lots of slang.
Regular contact with non-native speakers of your language can help to accustom you to a variety of foreign accents and ways of speaking. In the cases of languages few people study, their native speakers are perhaps less likely to have heard foreigners attempting to speak their language and might be less tolerant of mispronunciation and grammatical errors. I’ve read that this might be true for Czech. Does anybody know if this is the case?