Today’s video is for students who feel uncomfortable speaking English, and because of this, forget their words. I will describe the problem of feeling uncomfortable when speaking English, and I will also give you some tips for overcoming this problem.
Feeling uncomfortable when speaking English as a second language is a common problem. In fact, it’s the reason that many of my students decide to improve their English speaking skills with me.
What it Feels Like when you Forget your Words
When you feel uncomfortable speaking English, your mind can go blank causing you to forget what you want to say. It feels like there is an empty space in your head, and you can’t remember any words for what seems like a long time. In reality, a mind blank can last for 2 seconds or 20 seconds, but inside your head, it feels much longer.
Students Who Forget their Words Avoid Speaking English
When something makes us feel uncomfortable, a way of coping is to avoid the thing that makes us feel this way. For this reason, students who experience uncomfortable mind blanks often avoid situations where they can practise their English. They instead choose to stay silent or say very little in situations where English is being spoken, which only makes the problem worse.
Students Make their Problem Worse
The uncomfortable feeling that accompanies speaking English is so unpleasant that students seek to solve the problem by learning more English (learning more vocabulary or grammar etc.). This seems logical, but in fact, it is the wrong approach and can even make the problem of mind blanks get worse.
The way to solve the problem of mind blanks is in fact to go in the opposite direction by practising one’s speaking skills more. It does not involve more concentration or thinking. But rather, you need to get more physical by speaking more. This is why repeat-after-me practice is extremely useful for students who experience the problem of mind blanks when speaking English.
Tips for Remembering Your Words when Speaking English
Avoid putting yourself in stressful situations that are beyond your level of skill speaking English. To do so will result in stress and overwhelm that causes mind blanks.
Practise your English speaking skills in a supportive environment.
Relax your body before a situation in which you will need to speak English. When your body is relaxed, you can remember your words much more easily. One way to do this is by exercising beforehand.
Do lots of repeat-after-me English speaking skills practice.
Know that the problem of feeling uncomfortable when speaking English can’t be solved by learning more vocabulary, improving your grammar or even by passing an exam.
When having a conversation in English, don’t cause extra stress by overthinking your grammar or pronunciation.
In this lesson, I’m going to teach you ways to expand and improve your vocabulary. The method I am going to teach you is one that I use myself, to expand my own vocabulary. Do you find that you often use the same words over and over again? This video is ideal for students who want to improve their English and use more interesting and varied words in their vocabulary.
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Today’s lesson: Ways to expand and increase your vocabulary
In this lesson, we’re going to explore my proven method to expand your English vocabulary. This is a method that I developed myself for expanding my own vocabulary. I do this because there are so many words out there and I want to know and be able to use as many of these words as possible. Everything in this lesson is based on my own life-long journey of growing my vocabulary.
Expand your vocab with the ‘mmm’ method
The method I use is the “mmm” method – because words are tasty! – which helps us remember as there are three parts, each represented by a word that begins with M. So this is also a mnemonic (/nɪˈmɒn.ɪk/“a system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations which assists in remembering something”).
Change Your Mindset to Learn More Vocabulary
You’ve got to have the right attitude when it comes to expanding your vocabulary. You should be curious to discover and ask about what new words mean. You can do this by checking the word in the dictionary. If you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can also simply ask what the unknown word means.
Now, I know a lot of people are probably too proud to ask someone what a word means because they worry about coming across as stupid. It may also not be appropriate for every single situation that you’re in, like a meeting for example. But in your day-to-day life, it’s a really good way to involve word learning in your everyday activities with the people you know and speak to the most.
When I was a teenager, I used to read classic novels and if I came across a word I didn’t know, I never checked it. I would just try and guess the meaning. But sometimes, you won’t get the meaning right. To this day I’m discovering there are some words out there for which I learned the wrong meaning by guessing.
You also need to be courageous to use new words. When we haven’t used a word before, we might not feel confident enough to actually start using it. So when you get your new word, be courageous. Use it. Plan to use it if you need to.
Finally, to expand your vocabulary, you need to be like a collector. Consider how a collector collects objects like coins or stamps. You are a collector of words, who treats new words as precious items to collect and use. Try to remember where you first learned a new word too because this will help it to stick in your memory.
All of these mindset aspects are going to create the right environment for you to learn new words easily. This is because these mindset changes make growing your vocabulary become part of your life.
What If You Have a Poor Memory for Learning New Words?
We have to be realistic and accept that there are certain limitations to memory for adults. My best tip for you is not to cram words into your mind by staring at them on the page. It doesn’t work. That’s what I thought learning was when I was a teenager. I used to spend a long time revising by staring at paper. Please don’t make this mistake!
What actually works is to frequently remind yourself of the same information. It’s not about staring and trying to remember. Try saying the words out loud in a sentence every night before you go to sleep and each morning before you start your day. Do this until your new words are confidently learned.
Be patient when learning new words. There might be hundreds of new words we want to learn, but it’s impossible to learn them all in just one month! If they are completely unrelated to words that we already know, it’s going to be hard to learn those words.
Are You Treating Words Properly? Make Sure You Make Them Magnificent!
Words are magnificent to me and therefore I like to treat them in a special way. One way you can treat words magnificently is to buy a special pen and/or notebook to write your newly acquired words in. This is much more respectful to your new words than writing them on scraps of used paper!
More practical ways to improve your vocabulary
Download the ‘Word Up’ app to learn more vocabulary
This is an app that I’m using myself. There are all sorts of games that you can play while you’re learning the words. We’re on our phones so much that we should attempt to divert bad habits that we shouldn’t be doing to something useful, like playing word games. Playing word games is one of the many activities we should be doing to expand our vocabulary.
Make a ‘word wall‘ to Help Remember More Words
In my case, it’s a word door. On the back of the door, I’ve taped some paper on to which I write all the words that I want to start actively start using. Each time I pass by the word wall I get reminded of the words I am trying to learn.
Learn the etymology of words
Etymology is to do with the origin of words. When we know something about the etymology of words, it helps us to mentally map the word so that it’s more likely to stick to other words that we know.
Knowing the etymology of a word is also useful because it leads us to the purest sense of the word by taking us back to where it came from. If I’m really struggling to know what a word means, or struggling to define it to someone else, then I always go and check its etymology. This makes the word meaning become much clearer.
Let’s recap the ‘mmm’ method for growing your vocabulary:
▶︎ Develop the right mindset.
▶︎ Accept the limitations of memory
▶︎Treat words magnificently.
▶︎ Use active and practical methods to reinforce your learning, E.g., play a word game, check words in a dictionary, or create a word wall.
In this lesson, we’re going to talk about manners and the rules for being polite on a Zoom call. Follow these rules of politeness to make a professional impression in Zoom meetings.
Manners and How to Be Polite on Zoom
Video meetings have become a common feature of working life since the Coronavirus pandemic. After a year of lockdowns, we’ve all had a lot of experience on Zoom.
We have now reached a point where there are no more excuses for bad practices and manners. You must present a professional image during video calls in 2021.
It’s likely you’ve seen examples of poor manners on Zoom. I speak to students and professionals from many different countries, and I got their opinions on this as well. So, this lesson contains a good mix of experiences on what should be the social etiquette (French word for social norms and values) when attending video meetings.
After this lesson, you will avoid reflecting badly on yourself and your job, by keeping these Zoom rules and video call etiquette in mind.
The dress code for your Zoom call
The dress code for your Zoom call should be the same as the dress code you would follow if you were going to go to that meeting in person. So, if you would usually wear a suit jacket when meeting in person, that’s what you should wear for your Zoom call.
I’m not saying that you need to wear a suit all day in your house. I’m suggesting, for the call you make the effort; you put your suit on. As soon as the call is done, you can take it off.
This is also how we avoid embarrassing moments like featuring pyjamas in the shot, or tracksuit bottoms, when you need to get up for something.
Show off your zoom call equipment
Let’s talk about your setup, which is the equipment that you’re using.
Another word for that is your gear. But this is more of a ‘techie’ word. If you’re into your tech, and you’re proud of it, then you might call it your gear. For example, you can refer to your camera gear.
It’s clear that working from home may go on and on and on. So, there are displays of status you could show off while on the call. Showing off is like, “Hey, look at this everyone, look at what I’ve got”.
For example, if you have a boom stand and a microphone, you can show these off in the shot. I’m always quite impressed when I see someone’s got that. Anything that people are going to go, “Oh, wow, you’ve invested some money”, is going to make you look good.
‘Boomer tech’ explained…
I know this may not apply to most of you, but I want to talk about an internet slang word, which is ‘boomertech’.
This is a word you would use to describe anyone who is having irritating tech problems because they don’t know how to use it properly, and it’s a bit annoying because these are easy things that they should know.
All kinds of boomer tech problems are just unacceptable. Go and watch a few ‘how to videos’ and learn how to do it properly before coming in the Zoom call and being embarrassing like that.
So, this is a derogatory word. It’s a kind of insult. So you would never say this to someone directly, “Oh, you’re being boomer tech” or “That’s boomer tech”, but you would think it.
It’s different if your internet connection goes off or if your computer freezes. Unfortunately, that sort of stuff does happen on Zoom. It’s not always your fault, and it’s irritating that it happens.
Improving the sound for your video calls
Do what you can to improve the sound in your room. This might be something simple like closing the windows so you don’t hear the traffic noise. It can also be closing the door to prevent the people in the other rooms of your house from being heard on the call.
This might also be generally improving the acoustics of the room. Meaning, how the sound echoes in the room space. If you have lots of hard surfaces, you might want to get some cushions in the room, even some blankets, that can absorb the sound. You will sound so much better if your room has decent acoustics.
Are pets acceptable on a Zoom call?
Let’s talk now about pets. I’ve got a cat and he has to be shut out of the room when I am on a video call. We all know that cats want your attention. They want to go on the keyboard. Also, my cat bites. I can’t be on a Zoom call whilst having my cat bite me on the leg. Can you imagine?
So pets have to go outside. This is a boundary’s issue. My cat doesn’t like being put out of the room which makes it tough, but you just have to do it. It’s part of your work.
You can’t have your pet in your office with you, can you? This is the way it has to be.
Zoom calls interrupted by kids
From my experience on Zoom, kids will always be trying to get the attention. Even if they’re not participating in that call, they’ll be doing stuff and they’ll be curious. This is a sensitive topic because people are going to say interruptions can’t be helped while their kids are at home.
Another point to mention is babies crying during a group Zoom group call. It’s quite bad form because the noise is going to disrupt other people.
I’m saying this just for the benefit of people who maybe didn’t realise how this seems or goes down. I know I’m probably going to get some negative feedback about this. Hopefully, people can understand the other point of view.
Food and drinks on a video conference call
Now let’s talk about food and drink. Do not drink anything apart from water or a basic drink like a tea or a coffee.
Even drinking a tea or a coffee is slightly rude, but I admit, that I do it sometimes, but only if I’m relaxed and it feels appropriate.
Eating anything is impolite. Even a little sweet, mint, or some chewing gum. Do not eat while you’re on the call. Even a biscuit, all of it is bad.
If you must eat or drink something other than water, at least turn your camera off while you’re eating. But bear in mind that the other participants may think you are being rude or have gone away, if you suddenly turn off your camera.
General video call tips
Do not groom on a group class or call. Things like putting on makeup, doing your nails or doing your hair are not acceptable. You may think this is fine, or maybe you think no one’s noticing what you’re doing.
If you are participating in the call, have an emergency tissue around. A tissue box is very handy because you never know if you might need to sneeze. And if you do need to sneeze and you can’t turn the camera off quickly, at least duck out of the view. You don’t want people seeing that.
Another tip about sound. When you are on a group call. when you’re not speaking, mute yourself. If everyone does this its going to create the best atmosphere in terms of the sound in the whole call. It’s really bad manners if the sound of your typing or doing stuff is interfering on the listening experience of other people.
So there you go. Thank you for joining me for this lesson, I hope this wasn’t too controversial. You should now know some great tips for video conference calls on Zoom.
Please like the video if you haven’t done so already, and also consider joining my email newsletter, which I use for getting in touch about my lessons and special offers.
In today’s lesson, we discover a variety of phrases and situations where you might want to use the common word ‘so’.
The aim of this lesson is to provide you with some great examples so that you can confidently start using this simple word in ways that are much more interesting and varied.
After this lesson, you’re going to raise the level of your vocabulary and sound much more advanced in your English.
So… are you ready to discover the different ways you can express yourself using the word ‘so’?
How to use “so-so”
The phrase “so-so” is used as an adjective to describe an experience or thing. If something is “so-so,” it’s kind of in the middle. But the energy of the phrase is towards the negative side, which gives it the same effect as saying, “not bad”.
Person A: “How was the film?”
Person B: “It was so-so”.
Person A: “How are you today?”
Person B: “so-so.”
When to use “I don’t think so”
You’re probably already using this phrase in your English. You can use it as a disagreeing response to a question that you’re asked.
If somebody asks, “Does this bus go to the city centre?” and you don’t think it does, you can say, “No, I don’t think so– not this bus”.
We also have another way to use it, often used by “sassy” teenagers to express a strong rejection.
Imagine if someone you would never go on a date with, comes and asks you out for a date. You could say, “No, I don’t think so!” 💁.
When to use “If you say so…”
We use this when we disagree with or want to be dismissive about something someone has said. People often say this when they just can’t come out and directly disagree.
Person A: “Mr Smith teacher is the nicest teacher I’ve seen in my life.”
Person B: “If you say so…”
This means, no, I don’t think the teacher is quite as brilliant as you’ve described.
Using “I hope so”
This phrase is used when you’re saying you don’t know for certain yet, but you hope something will happen. Using this phrase is much better than promising something that might not happen.
Person A:“Will I see you at the weekend?”
Person B: “I hope so.”
Using “is that so?”
This phrase can sound a bit formal. It is a rhetorical question (one that doesn’t expect to be answered). We say this phrase when we have been told some surprising information.
Imagine that you just heard your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend is getting married. Somebody tells you that. You can say, “Is that so?”
Be mindful of the tone of voice you use to say this phrase. It will convey the emotion you feel about the surprising information, and whether it is good news or bad news to you.
Using “so it seems” / “so it would seem”
This is a response to a negative observation that somebody has made.
The use of this phrase also has a distancing effect. You can use this phrase when you want to appear calm in a stressful situation.
For example, if you’re on a car trip, and you didn’t fill up the petrol tank. Your passenger says to you:
“We’re going to run out of petrol. We’re in the middle of nowhere. How long until we find the garage to fill up? We’re going to run out of petrol!!” You can say, “So it seems” or “So it would seem.”
Secretly, you’re panicking too, but this phrase is going to make you seem calm and in control.
Why do people use “or so they say…”
This expression is often used after we have reported some information that people in general say. You can use this phrase to distance yourself from the information, especially when you’re passing on gossip, a rumour, or saying something that reflects a stereotype.
You don’t want to give your own opinion, so instead you pass on the general opinion of others. If we spread rumours, that doesn’t make us look good, so this is why a distancing phrase like this might be used. You are still gossiping of course, but this little language trick makes it appear as if you are not!
Northerners are more trustworthy than Southerners. People from the North are more trustworthy than people from the South– or so they say”.
Here we are suggesting, I don’t know for certain. I’m just telling you what people say.
Parents using “because I say so” & “because I said so”
When a child asks ‘why?’, this phrase is usually used by parents who do not wish to explain themselves.
“Why do I have to do my homework? I don’t want to do my homework.” The response would be, “Because I said so.”
Formal uses of “and so on” or “and so forth”
“And so on” or “And so forth” share the same meaning as ‘et cetera’. These phrases are used when at the end of a list of things. They indicate that the list continues in a similar manner.
These phrases here are used in very formal speech. When a person has a formal manner of speaking or in academic contexts.
Instead of making a long list. You can list two or three things and then say, “and so on” or “and so forth”.
“The study included people of different ages, genders, social classes, and so forth.”
“And so forth” is a little bit more formal than saying “and so on”.
Polite use of the word ‘so’
We use this phrase when you are politely asking someone to do something for you. However, it is not commonly used.
“Would you be so kind as to open the door for me?”
This phrase is a little bit old-fashioned now. Unless you are a very polite and elegant kind of person, it might sound a little bit too posh. You could otherwise just say, “Could you help me by opening the door?”
Saying goodbye with “so long”
This phrase is simply another way of saying goodbye, farewell.
“So long, until the next lesson”
I will finally say “so long” to you students!
More from Jade Joddle
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In this video talk, I predict what it will be like to learn English in the year 2030. I also share my views on how the ELT business (English Language Training) will develop, based on advancements in technology and the changing demand for English.
I have been teaching English via videos and online lessons since 2012. I have witnessed many changes in online teaching during that time, which have accelerated in the past year (2020), due to the impact of lockdowns and the fact that many teachers have been forced to move online for the first time.
Competition in the online teaching English sphere is very tough these days, and all I can say is that in such a crowded market, I’m relieved that I’m not just starting out.
How Learning English will Be Different in the Future
Which kind of English will be favoured in the future: British English? American English? Or something else?
Niches and specialist areas of learning English
The role of corporations in the ESL teaching industry
The fate of the school trip
The role of video and technology in teaching English
Advanced Vocabulary Definitions
in store (idiom) = something that is ‘in store’ for you, is going to happen in the future. For example, ‘I asked the tarot reader what the future has in store for me’ (I asked what will happen to me in the future).
native speaker (n) = a person whose first language is English, who has spoken it since a baby.
International English (n) = this is the concept that English is a global language, which isn’t tied to a specific accent or variety.
on an equal footing (idiom) = to be equal in status or respect to something else.
Amalgam English = a mixture of different ‘Englishes’. Neither strictly British English nor American English, but a mixture of them and other linguistic influences.
use [something] up (phrasal verb) = to exhaust your supply of something, so that there isn’t any of it left.
niche (n; marketing) /niːʃ/ = a specialist area in which a business concentrates its effort, to appeal to a subset of customers.
scalability (n; business) = the ability of a business to grow larger.
interactive (adj) = involving direct participation. For example, interactive teaching methods require the student to be actively involved in the lesson, instead of merely watching or listening.
In this lesson we are going to go learn how to use the confusing question words: ‘question’, ‘inquiry’, ‘enquiry’ and ‘query’. These words have overlapping meanings, therefore they often confuse students.
These words are related to asking questions and it can often be confusing to know when it is appropiate to use each one.
Experts often disagree over the correct usage of these words, but we’re going to keep it simple. By following my straightforward guidelines, you will have the confidence to get these confusing words right every time.
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Confusing Question Word One: ‘Question’
Preposition Example: You ask a question about something.May I ask you a question about something? I have a question about biology.
Noun Example: I asked my teacher a question.
Verb Example: You question somebody to find out information. The police are questioning a suspect.
Confusing Question Word Two: ‘Inquiry’
Preposition Example: an inquiry intosomething.A legal or governmental investigation into something.
Noun Example: For serious things, there can be a governmental inquiry. For example, an inquiry into the Iraq War.
Verb Example: “Inquire” is not commonly used in British English.
Confusing Question Word Three: ‘Enquiry’
Preposition Example:an enquiry about something is a formal and polite way of asking a question.
Noun Example: There’s a student on the phone who has an enquiry about the course dates.
Verb Example: May I enquire if you’ve got any rooms at the moment?
Confusing Question Word Four: ‘Enquiries‘
This word is the plural of “enquiry”.
Noun Example: If you have any enquiries, send them to customer services.
Word 5 – Query
Preposition Example:I have a query about something.
‘Query’ is another word for question, but is used when expressing a doubt.
Noun Example: I have a query about the data on page six.
Learn all the different ways to say ‘no’ in English. The word “NO!” by itself is a very simple way to refuse something. However, native speakers of English say “no” in many different ways which you might not know yet.
It’s important for you to learn all the ways in which we can say “no” in order to prevent misunderstandings. You should also learn to use these because in some situations, you need to use stronger language.
I will teach you 25 ways to refuse in a strong and direct way. Depending on where you come from, this may not be usual in your home country or culture. But in English-speaking countries, being direct is very often the most appropriate behavior.
You will learn expressions such as “No way, Jose”, “under no circumstance”, “out of the question”, “no chance”, “fat chance”, “not gonna happen”, and many more. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to say the simple and common word “no” with more variety than ever before.
Expressions for Saying ‘No!’ in English
If someone asks you on a date, and you’re not interested, you can say…
Not in a million years.
How many times do I have to tell you?!
What part of ‘no!’ don’t you understand?
Leave me alone!
If someone asks to borrow money from you, but you want to strongly decline, you can say…
Are you serious / joking ?
Not on your Nelly!
Not on your life!
If someone is trying to scam you by getting your personal details, you can say…
under no circumstances *formal
on no account *formal
Sure, I’ll give you my password. When pigs might fly! *idiomatic
You’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell. *idiomatic
Do you think I was born yesterday? *idiomatic
If you want to say ‘no’ to your child who is asking to do something that is not allowed, you can say…
‘By’ is such a small word, but it’s not simple! In this lesson, I’ll show you many different ways to use ‘by’ as a preposition. I will teach you through specific examples and situations so that it’s not just theoretical. For advanced English learners, I’ll also teach you prepositional phrases with ‘by’, such as ‘by appointment only’. Using these prepositional phrases is a great way to elevate your English to a more sophisticated level.
Do you sound weak? In this video, I give you examples of unconfident speaking styles. These are expressions people use when lacking in confidence about themselves and their opinions. We will be looking at indirect language: speaking with disclaimers, evading opinions, making oneself small, being doubtful of oneself, and being afraid to speak one’s mind. While it is sometimes necessary to communicate in an indirect way for the sake of politeness, it’s important to know how to speak in a more confident way too. When you communicate in a confident way, you are able to lead other people and to make a good impression. Learn about unconfident speaking styles in order to stop sounding weak!
In this lesson, we will learn examples of toxic language, which is using language in a way that is violent because it harms others with words. Remove examples of toxic language and violent communication from your speech.
The lesson is based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg, who educated people to express their needs in a compassionate way in order to avoid ‘violent communication’.
I will teach you common examples of violent communication, such as threatening, blaming, labelling, diagnosing, and guilt tripping.
Many of us often do some or all of these to others without realising. By learning to avoid violent communication, we are able to express our personal needs more effectively and our relationships with others can improve.
What is passive-aggressive language? In this lesson I talk you through examples of passive-aggressive communication, which happens when a person is angry but their anger is not directly expressed. Learning these examples will come in handle when dealing with manipulative people.
Do you have problems remembering your words when speaking English? In this post, I provide some reasons why this happens and suggest ways for dealing with this problem so that you can learn English more effectively.
Why You Can’t Remember your Words when Speaking English.
Some people know a lot of words but they can never remember them when they need to use them. These people have a very wide passive vocabulary. That means that they know a lot of words, but cannot find them quickly.
The reason that I think this happens is to do with the different ways our brains are programmed. Some people have very wide vocabularies – they know a lot of words and they are sharp enough to remember them quickly. These people would be great contestants on quiz shows.
Not everyone thinks in the same way. In the quiz show analogy, some people watch the quiz and know the answer, but they can never remember the answer quickly enough. These people are much slower thinkers. The information is in their brain somewhere, however it takes much longer to find it.
Introvert Have Slower Word Recall than Extroverts
I am a slow thinker and I have not found a way to change this. This seems to be just the way my brain is wired. This is a quality associated with introverted personalities. On the positive side of things, it is also often accompanied by a much broader vocabulary than average. It takes introverts longer to find their words because more words are in their filing system!
Don’t Get Stuck Searching for a Single Word
When students forget their words in English, they can get stuck and blocked because of that one word they are searching for. This blocks their speech and the conversation goes nowhere. When this happens, a better strategy is to find a way around the lost word so that you can carry on talking. One way of doing this, if the object is there in the room with you, is to point at the thing you are trying to remember the name of.
You can also say a phrase like, ‘What’s it called?’ to show that you can’t remember the word. The person you are talking to will probably know what you mean even without you saying the word.
Put Your Energy into Learning Useful Words
You don’t need to know the name of every random object in the world. It takes a lot of energy to learn words. I don’t think it’s worth using lots of energy to learn lots of words you are unlikely to ever use in speech. This is also why students should prioritise by only putting energy into learning the most useful words for their level.
If you find yourself stressed when you can’t remember a word, just relax. This shows you that the word is not yet part of your active vocabulary. You haven’t used it enough times for it to stick in your brain so that you always remember it when you need it. Keep your active vocabulary small if you can’t remember words and don’t feel bad about that – these are the words that are most useful for you to know.