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Filed UnderSpeaking English

“Why can’t I find my words every time I speak English?”

September 15, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

The big problem here is simply that you’re too focused on words (and probably grammar) – but that’s NOT what you should be focused on for speaking.

Let me explain: what matters for speaking well is how you combine the words you’ve got into nativelike chunks of English.

And this is true of remembering words, too.

We used to think native speakers had grammar rules in their head, and that they combined these with words to make sentences… but this never made much sense. Speaking like this, we shouldn’t be able to speak fluently because the brain’s RAM (working memory) simply isn’t that good. Using grammar and words, we’d speak slowly and awkwardly (like most non-native speakers who have learned to speak in this way). Also, we shouldn’t sound natural simply because most “grammatical” English isn’t natural – “make a picture” is grammatical, and so is “let’s try it”. But both sound awkward (we say “take a picture” and “let’s give it a go”.

This is because native speakers speak in chunks.

So if you also want to sound fluent and natural? That’s how you need to speak, too.

Learning in this way will make it much, much easier to recall words in conversation because they’re better connected to the rest of your English in your mind.

When you try to learn English as individual words and ignore how they combine with other words, it’s like having a pile of lego blocks with no instructions for the thing you’re trying to make. All the lego blocks are there: but they’re just a random mess of bits.

The easiest way to do this is to learn in chunks right from the beginning.

And I have a free training here that will show you how to do that.


Dr. Julian Northbrook

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