Tips on what to do when you can’t remember a word or don’t know a word that you want to use in a foreign language

Often when you are talking in a foreign language you get stuck when you are in the middle of a sentence and find that you either don’t know a particular word or you can’t remember it. Here are some useful tips to help you out:

1. Ask for help:  ¿Cómo se dice …? (How do you say …?) or, ¿Qué significa …? (What does … mean?)

2. Say it in English to see if they understand.

3. Make it up or make it sound similar to the word in English or another language that you may know. It is often the case that the word is fairly similar to the English word anyway.

4. Explain the meaning of the word: try to explain what it looks like, what it is used for, what it is made of, where you normally find it, etc.

5. Use hand gestures, mime, draw a picture.

6. Use a similar Spanish word.

7. If you know what you are about to talk about, think about the words you are going to need beforehand. Sometimes we can prepare ourselves in advance.

Example 1: if you are going to talk about las vacaciones (holidays), you might think of the following words; sol (sun), arena blanca (white sand), el avión (aeroplane), verano (summer), inolvidable (unforgettable), etc.

Example 2: If you know your teacher is going to ask you “¿Qué tal el fin de semana?” (How was the weekend?), you can start to think about the keywords you need to use.

If you would like further tips and advice about learning Spanish or other languages call Fiona on 07870 699404.

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