Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

4 Reasons You Can't Articulate Your Thoughts in English and 4 Solutions

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 04:15 PM


Do you ever feel like you can't express exactly what you want to say in English?

Do your colleagues tell you that you "ramble on" too much?

Maybe you need to say something to your boss or colleague but you start talking and you notice that they start to get annoyed with you. They look at their watches. They frown. They try to get you to "just say what you want to say." They make you feel rushed and that makes it even worse.

If you are having this problem then workplace communication is probably a stressful thing for you.

Do you want to solve this problem? First you need to know why this is happening.

Below are 4 reasons this is happening to you and how to solve the problem.



Reason #1) Your cultural communication style is more indirect

If you are working in the US, the communication style is relatively direct although it really depends on the context.

If you are from a country like Japan, you will notice a big difference.

You might be accustomed to "hinting" at what you want to say, especially if someone has made a mistake and you need to say it.

You might want to imply the message but not exactly say it. For example, if you need to offer a criticism you might use words like "maybe..." or "it could be..." when your colleagues are expecting you to say what you think more directly.

You might be doing this and your boss or colleagues might be getting quite annoyed.


Solution #1) Observe your colleagues and how they form their messages.

Pay attention to the words that they use and how that corresponds to how direct they are tying to be.

When you speak a new language you also need to function within the new culture.

Translating words but using your home culture's communication style won't work.




Reason #2) You are using the wrong word order

In English the subject of the sentence comes first (I, you, he, she, it) so that becomes the focal point of the message.

In your language it's possible that the grammar order is different.

The word order can change the message and how it sounds to listeners. Maybe you are still using word order from your native language and it doesn't make any sense in English.


Solution #2) Take a look at English grammar

Be sure that your words are in the correct order when you speak to colleagues and your messages will be more effective.

You don't have to study grammar with a textbook. You can work with a native English tutor or you can learn by listening to a great podcast every day.




Reason #3) You don't have a sophisticated vocabulary

When you don't have the exact word that you need, you end up saying more than you should and trying to explain your point in 2 or 3 different ways.

It's a waste of time for you and the listener.

You need to deepen your vocabulary.

Your goal should be to say more with fewer but more precise words.


Solution #3) Deepen your vocabulary

When you work with your native English teacher, focus on using 7 new vocabulary words for each lesson. Go for quality over quantity.

Listening practice is also a key way to improve vocabulary. Listen to native English speakers every day and pick out a few key words and try to use them on your own the next time you speak.

Reading is also a good strategy.

Make sure you get reading material that is right for your level.



Reason #4) You are nervous/anxious

When I give a presentation, sometimes I get nervous.

When I get nervous or anxious I speak fast.

I lose my ability to be articulate.

This might be happening to you.


Solution #4) Slow down and practice often

If you feel yourself speeding up, you can take a deep breath and slow down.

In order to stop this from happening regularly, you need to expose yourself to situations where you actually have to speak in public or under pressure.

Try joining Toastmasters or another public speaking group in your town.



If you want to work with someone to learn to do this faster and start articulating your thoughts in English, click the button below and we will connect you with an experienced native tutor who can support you and guide you to your goals.


Get a private native English teacher now



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Topics: Business English Presentations, Business English Vocabulary

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