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.

 Extend Your Learning

◼️ Watch my video lesson on How to Remember Advanced Vocabulary.

◼️ Do your forget your words when speaking to native speakers? Here’s How to be More Confident when Speaking to Native English Speakers.

◼️ Read my article on how to talk more in a group.


Jade Joddle grows your confidence and skill to shine when speaking English.

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