Checking understanding

In this video, Paul has problems understanding Bob. Listen to the language they use for checking understanding and practise saying the useful phrases.

Do the preparation exercise first. Then watch the video and do the exercises to check your understanding and practise the language.


Ana: Hi, I'm Ana. Welcome to What to Say!


Do you know what to say when you want to check your understanding? Listen out for useful language for checking your understanding. Then, we'll practise saying the new phrases – after this.


Bob: This isn't right. Hey! Excuse me, Paul, could you pass me the hammer?

Paul: Sorry, Bob, my ears are blocked. I can't hear you very well. Could you say that again, please?

Bob: The hammer. Please could you pass it to me?

Paul: The spanner?

Bob: No. The hammer! 

Paul: Sorry, Bob, I don't understand. This is the spanner! 

Bob: No, Paul, I need the hammer. It's in the toolbox, on the left, under the scissors.

Paul: Sorry, Bob. Could you repeat that more slowly, please? 

Bob: The hammer … in the toolbox … on the left … under the scissors.

Paul: On the left … under the scissors … Oh! Do you mean the hammer? Is this it?

Bob: Yes, that's right! 

Paul: Ah! Why didn't you say so?

Bob: I did! 


Ana: Hello again! Oh dear. I think Paul needs to go home and sleep. So, did you notice the useful phrases used for checking your understanding? Listen to me and then repeat.


I'm sorry?

I can't hear you very well.

Could you say that again, please?

I don't understand.

Can you repeat that more slowly, please?

Do you mean the hammer?

Is this it?

Yes, that's right! 


Ana: Try and use some of these phrases the next time you want to check your understanding in English. Bye for now! 


Worksheet133.18 KB

Language level

Average: 4.6 (373 votes)

Submitted by O'Prata on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 05:02

It's a very helpful video, specially the expressions about checking undestanding. In the beginnig of the video, I thought Paul said "my ears are blocks" but after seeing the context and reading the transcription I figured out he has said "my ears are blocked". The "ed" sounded "s" to me at the first sight. Thank you!

Submitted by alexiaimogen on Wed, 21/10/2020 - 06:55

Yes for sure, thank you.

Submitted by Dani Ela on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 18:17

Yes! it helped me a lot

Submitted by Sheikh MD Sazi… on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 01:11

Ye, I found the video useful.
Profile picture for user AldiKurniawan345

Submitted by AldiKurniawan345 on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 04:55

Why the video is not working?

Hello AldiKurniawan345,

I've checked the page and the video appears to be working correctly, so the problem is likely a local one. This could be a compatibility issue with your device or browser, so the first step I would suggest is to use a different device - a laptop or desktop computer rather than a mobile device - to see if that helps. You could also check your security settings to see if any kinds of mulitmedia are being blocked.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by guitardude on Sun, 11/10/2020 - 21:43

Yes I found the video useful these two men plays acting really good, they might be actors but it would be more useful if discussion part was like what it is in podcasts, you know, presenters tess and ravi want us to record ourselves about the topic, things... Actually I came this page with an expectation like this. I noticed a slight difference on prononciation of the word ''hammer''. Old man said it like ''hemmağ'' but the woman that explains the video said ''hemır''. Do they both correct ? I thought american people say it like the woman in the video and british people say it like the old man but this is british council's web site and I think they should be both british. I want to ask one more thing; 1-) Could you say that more slowly, 2-) could you say that slower, 3-) could you say that slowly. Which ones are gramatically correct ?

Hello guitardude,

There are a variety of accents in the video. The old man has a southern English accent, probably from somewhere around London or the south-east of English (Kent, Sussex, Essex, Hampshire etc.). The younger man who has problems understanding him has a northern English accent. I would place it in the north-west (Lancashire, Cheshire etc.). The presenter has a different accent which is hard to identify. Her English is very good it is American rather than English, but I think she is not a native speaker and has learned English as a second language.

At the British Council we think it's important for learners of English to be exposed to a wide range of accents and not only those form the UK. After all, when you use English outside of the classroom you need to be able to understand all sorts of varieties of English.


With regard to your last question, both more slowly and slowly are grammatically correct, though there is a difference in meaning: more slowly asks the person to reduce their speed after they have already said it once, while slowly simply instructs them how to speak without reference to a previous statement. In a situation like that in the video, I think more slowly is the best option.

The other option (slower) is not grammatically accurate as it uses an adjective where an adverb is needed. However, many people use this form in everyday speech. It's an example of non-standard grammar.



The LearnEnglish Team