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What to do when you get stuck in English?

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re starting a conversation feeling fairly confident and fluent.
But all of a sudden, you’re stuck.
Your brain is empty. There’s nothing there.
Your heart’s beating faster and you push yourself to come up with something,
with anything, but you just sink further into the abyss of stuckland.

It happens to (almost) everyone. And as you’ll see in the video, it happens quite often to me as well.

But, there are a few things you can do and say
that’ll help you come out of these situations harmless and with style,
and even (god forbid) learn from them

In today’s video you’ll learn:
1. What to do when you get stuck when speaking English
2. What to do to prevent it from happening next time

Watch: What to do when you get stuck in English?


Now, the first thing that usually happens when you get stuck is that you get s…, And if it was a grammar rule or… If it was…

Hey, it’s Hadar, and this is The Accent’s Way. Today we’re going to talk about what to do when you get stuck in English.

You probably know this feeling where you start speaking and then, all of a sudden, you go blank. You have no idea what you’re trying to say. You don’t even know where you started, and the words just don’t come up.

Now, it happens to everyone, even in their native tongues. But, for you, probably when you were speaking English, and let’s say that you’re not super confident about your English anyway. When it happens, you can actually freeze up, get super self-conscious and be afraid to talk.

What you do during that moment where you get stuck and what you should do afterwards to prevent those moments from happening?

Now, the first thing that usually happens when you get stuck is that you really stress out. You get nervous about it, you get self-conscious, and you just freeze. So what you can do is just start your sentence again. Go back to the beginning of the sentence. You can say something like, “Oh, let me start again”. Or, “Let me try to rephrase it”.

As if you were just going on a wrong direction, not like you just got stuck and you can’t think of the next word. So you start the sentence again, trusting that your brain will direct you around that moment where you got stuck.

So if it was a word that you couldn’t find, or if it was the idea that was not fully structured, by the time you started again, you know better where to go. You may not say exactly what you meant to say at the beginning, but you will come out of it rather safely.

Another thing you can do is ask for help. So you got stuck. So let’s say, I’m starting a sentence like, ‘Well, the political situation in my country is really…  what’s the word I’m looking for?” So that way you’re taking off the weight of coming out of this situation on your own, and you’re sharing it with a person in front of you.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s your friend, your coworker, or your boss. So it’s totally legit and people are usually very much inclined to helping other people in those kinds of situations.

One more thing that usually happens – and I do it all the time, especially in live sessions where I try to teach something and then I get distracted with comments or other ideas that come up to my head – what I usually do is just acknowledge it. I say something like, “Ugh, where was I? I lost my train of thought”.

And then either the other person who will remind me what I was talking about, and even if I remember what I was talking about, that will buy me some time to understand what I’m trying to say and restructure it.

Now, once the moment has passed and you continued with your conversation, what you can do is observe the situation and try to figure out what happened. What was the trigger that got you stuck? Was it a specific word you were looking for and you couldn’t come up with it?

Or did you try to say something that is a little more complex or use a certain grammar rule that you weren’t sure of? For example, an “if” clause: “If it was… what… if I had had… had it been…” Try to discover what was the cause for it and learn just that.

So for example, if you were looking for a word that you couldn’t come up with and then that got you stuck, then search for this word afterwards, write it in a place that is available to you, and say it out loud. Use it in context, use it in a sentence, always use it in a sentence. Memorizing words separately is worthless, to my opinion. You always have to use it in context, that’s how it actually sticks.

And if it was a complex grammar rule, then either study it or go online and search for examples, but do something that will make it clear for you. So next time you need to say something and to use this grammar rule, then you’ll know what to do and how to use it.

So those situations where you get stuck are actually opportunities for you to learn because it focuses you on what your issues are. Where are you still struggle? And then zooming in and practicing just that will help you overcome a struggle that is relevant just for you. And that is how you can become more fluent and more confident in English.

Okay. That’s it. I hope you liked it. Don’t forget, it’s not about getting stuck. It’s about learning from the experience. Please share this video with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and click on the bell to get notifications every time a new video is released.

Remember that every struggle is an opportunity to learn, so don’t be afraid and speak up. Have a great week and I’ll see you next week in the next video.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
35. How to Get Unstuck in English

Before you go, don’t forget to copy-paste to your phone my emergency list of phrases that’ll get you UNSTUCK at any time:

Let me me rephrase that
I’ll start again…
You know what, I’ll say it differently
I lost my train of thought.
The word has escaped my mind
What’s the word I’m looking for?
I forgot what I wanted to say
What was I saying?
No, that’s not what I wanted to say..

What do YOU say when you get stuck?
Let me know in the comments below!

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