Do you push yourself hard to develop your English or speaking skills? While it is good to have ambition when it comes to improving your English skills, it’s important to take care that you’re not diffusing your energy. In this podcast episode of English Jade, I provide an example of a diffused approach to learning English, and teach you how to avoid making this common mistake. Follow my advice to progress without stress.

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Slow Thinkers VS Fast Thinkers

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.

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.

In terms of learning a language, you don’t really need to worry about not being able to remember words. What you need to do is have a strategy for when you can’t remember words. Here’s what you can do. When you can’t remember the word just say, ‘that thing,’ and point at the thing you can’t 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.

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.

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.