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What To Do When You Get Stuck

2 months ago
Do you have difficulty expressing yourself well when you speak English?
Perhaps you’ve been studying the language for years, spent a lot of money on courses, but you still can’t put together a few good sentences as you wish. Maybe you also feel stuck when you speak and feel demotivated to continue.




Here are 3 strategies that you can use TODAY to get unstuck.

Strategy 1A: Use filler words and phrases to buy time when you go blank.


When we speak a language, there are usually little sounds, words and phrases that we use to indicate that we’re thinking or we’re trying to rephrase what we just said, or want to say.

In English, we use sounds, words and phrases such as:

  • Hmm…
  • Umm…
  • Well…
  • The thing is…
  • Let me rephrase that…
  • I forgot what I wanted to say…
  • I’m thinking of another way to say this…

Strategy 1B: Rephrase what you wanted to say.


Our next best option is to rephrase what we want to say. Remember, we need to explore our autonomous options before reaching out. This is how we push ourselves to learn, practice and speak a language!

Example sentence (What we want to say) - It’s my dream to spend a day at Disneyland.
Restructured sentence - I really want to go to Disneyland for one day.

It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s close enough to express your desire, and it also gives the same details - Disneyland, one day.


Strategy 2: Ask your conversation partner for help.


There’s nothing wrong with asking for help! Perhaps this steps lends itself to having a verbal conversation, when you’re speaking to someone face-to-face or via a phone call.

Otherwise, perhaps it’s easier to Google Translate it, but I HIGHLY recommend using strategies 1A & 1B before translating anything via text!!

Here are some phrases that you can use to ask for help:

  • How can I say… OR I don’t know the word for… (use strategy 1B)
  • What do you call… (describe the object, place etc.)
  • Can you help me? I’m a bit stuck. (use one of the above phrases)

Strategy 3: If all else fails, translate it using the internet.


Maybe you can guess, but my go to app is Google Translate. However, if I don’t find the translation that I’m looking for there, or if what I want to say is a bit special, I will using Reverso!

This is usually my last resort, and recommendation. Strategies 1&2 will allow you to become stronger in the language that you’re learning. It forces you to think quickly and to continue using the language (which is key)!!


Which methods do you like?