Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hi I'm Anne Marie with Speak Confident English and welcome to your weekly Confident English lesson where we focus on the skills and the language that you need to say what you want in English. This week we're focused on those situations when hmm those situations when you get stuck. Those moments when you get stuck, when you freeze, when you lose the words that you want to say, when you don't feel confident about what to say next or you can't find the right word the right expression or the right grammar, you're searching in your mind and you just say nothing because you don't know what to say. When it comes to feeling stuck or searching for the right word in English I have bad news and good news. The bad news is these situations will always happen and yes they suck they are awful. The good news is these situations happen to native speakers too and that means that we have several strategies and things that we can say in those moments to help us. When you know the right thing to do and the right thing to say in those moments it can help remove the stress, the frustration, and the fear and more importantly you can continue to communicate with confidence in a conversation. I'm going to share with you three strategies for what to do and common things that you can say to help you in those moments when you feel stuck. We're going to start with situation number one - someone asks you a question in English and you have no idea what to say. Maybe you've never heard the question before, maybe you didn't understand it clearly, maybe you just don't know you just need a little bit of time to think. So here are two strategies to help you. Number one - if you just need a little bit of time to think get your thoughts clear and figure out the right words to say then buy yourself some time. What that means is saying something that will give you some extra moments to think. Here are three things native speakers often say when we need just a moment to think about what we want to say and find the right words. 1. Great question! Let me think about that for a moment. Number two - you know I've never thought about that. Let me think about it. And number three - huh, you know I'm not sure. Give me a second to think about it. Each of those sentences will buy you or get you some time so that you can pause, take a deep breath to calm down, and think about what it is that you want to say in English. The second strategy that you can use when you don't know what to say, you don't know how to answer a question in English is to answer a question with a question and this is my favorite strategy to use in English and in my second language when someone asks me a question and I don't know what to say, I feel a little bit stuck and I need some time. I usually say something like: You know, I'm not sure. What about you? For example, imagine that you're talking to someone and they ask you a question, maybe they ask your opinion on a topic and you freeze you don't know what you want say, you need some time to think about it, to find the right words. Instead of trying to answer or feeling nervous you could simply say: You know, I don't know what I think about it. What about you? Or I'm not sure. Let me think about it but what about you? What did you think? When you do that, when you answer a question with a question, it gets the other person speaking and it gives you time to keep thinking about what you want to say. Now in that example, my answer to the question was I don't know or I'm not sure let me think about it, what about you? That doesn't always work. For example if someone says 'what do you do' they're asking about your job and of course you know what your job is so you can't say I don't know but you could use something like: Give me a moment to think about how to explain it in English and while I think tell me about your job. Again that will get the other person speaking and it gives you time to think about what you want to say and find the words that you need. Now those two strategies that we talked about - buying yourself time with something like 'let me think about that' or answering with a question - those give you the opportunity to think about what you want to say but what should you do if you just don't understand the question, you're not sure what they asked you? I actually have a full lesson just on that topic of what should you do and say when you don't understand and you can get a link to that lesson below this video but now let's move on to situation number 2. You're having a conversation in English or you're speaking at a business meeting and things are going great until you lose it. You lose the word or suddenly you can't think of the expression that you want to use. You've totally lost what you wanted to say and those moments can definitely be embarrassing because other people are waiting for you, they're waiting for you to continue or to say what you want but you're totally stuck. This happens so often to native speakers that we have several things that we say in those moments and these things help us to have time to think, they explain what happened, they make other people laugh, or they help us change the topic. So you can use the same expressions native speakers use to help you in those moments when you lose the word, you feel stuck, and you need time to think or you want to change the topic or you simply want to explain what just happened and everyone will understand because again it happens to all of us. So here are several things native speakers say. These are things that I say when I forget what I want to say or I lose a word. Number one - oh my gosh! I totally lost what I wanted to say. I'm so sorry. Give me a moment to think about it. Number two - oh my brain just froze! I lost what I wanted to say. Number three - mmm I can't find the word that I want to use. Maybe you can help me if I explain it. And then you would try to find another way to explain the word or the expression you're looking for and get other people to help you find it. Number four - oh I lost my train of thought. One moment. And then use that extra moment to try to get your thoughts back together to get those connections in your mind going. Number 5 is with an idiom that we use often - oh I lost the word! It's on the tip of my tongue. We use that idiom to say we almost remember it, it's so close in our mind but we can't find the word or we can't find the expression and again if you really can't find it then you could ask someone to help you or change the topic. Number six - oh sorry, I forgot what I wanted to say. Um, hopefully it'll come back to me in a moment. Hopefully it will come back to me in a moment. That's another great expression to use to buy yourself some time to show that you've lost what you wanted to say, you can't find it and maybe those words will come back to you if you have a little bit of time to think. And finally, another common way that native speakers talk about this is - hmm I think my brain just went dead. Sorry. Now all of those sentences that we just talked about explain what happened if somebody's listening to you speak and you suddenly get stuck. Those sentences will explain what happened and of course it gives you a little bit of time to think but if you cannot find the word, if you're thinking about it and it doesn't come back to you you have three options. Number one: just forget about what you were trying to say and go forward. So for example, if you're at a business meeting and you're sharing an idea, suddenly you get stuck, you're trying to find the word and you explain 'oh I'm sorry. I just lost what I'm trying to say. lLet me think about it.' And if it doesn't come back to you you can say something like: You know it's not coming back to me but let me continue. And then you just go on to your next topic. The second thing you can do is give someone else the opportunity to speak. If you're in a conversation, you get stuck and it's not coming back to you, you could say: You know, I just can't remember what I wanted to say. Maybe it will come back to me and I can talk about it later but does anyone else want to answer the question? Or does anyone else have something to say? And it's an invitation to others in the conversation to speak instead. Your third option is to simply change the subject, to move on to a new topic. If you get stuck and you cannot find the words that you wanted to say, you lose your thoughts and they don't come back to you, you can simply change the subject by saying: You know, it's not coming back to me. Let's move on, let's change the topic. In all of those situations you continue the conversation successfully and maybe in a few minutes what you wanted to say, the words you were looking for, will come back to your mind and later in the conversation or while you're speaking at the business meeting you could say: Oh I just remembered what I wanted to say earlier! And then you can continue to say what you want. So the next time this happens to you, when someone asks you a question in English and you freeze for a moment or you're speaking and suddenly you lose what you wanted to say, try using one of these strategies to help you continue in that conversation. And here is another thing that is great about those strategies that you can use: they work in every situation. If you're talking to a friend in English, you're talking to your neighbor about a vacation that you went on, if you're at a business meeting sharing your idea, or getting to know a new client. In all of those situations these strategies are perfectly appropriate and polite to use. And if you found today's lesson useful to you, please let me know. You can do that by giving this video a thumbs up on YouTube and sharing it on Facebook. With that have a fantastic week and I look forward to seeing you in our next Confident English lesson.