Make sure you have something to ADD in English


(Photo credit:

This comes back to the running theme I like to push which is that English is only the vehicle in which you are communicating, it is what you are communicating that is the key.

Communicating isn’t just saying the words, it sits in front of a ‘reason’ for speaking. So take a step back and ask yourself – what is it that I am adding to this conversation or how am I going to get my question answered so I can move to the next point?

This comes down to your own enquiring mind. You could be urged to open your mouth for any of these reasons:

  1. To ask a question
  2. To make a point
  3. To share an idea with a view to getting feedback
  4. To get something done

There are a multitude of reasons to speak, as we all know, but the key point is to view your life as a journey of communication. Whether it is in your own language or in English – whatever you say should propel you somehow forward one word/step at a time in your journey.

To consider first and foremost that you are ‘adding’ something to the conversation, can, for some people, feel daunting. It suggests that you are already knowledgeable, or have a strong opinion to share that everyone should listen to you…and so on – this is the first impression of ‘adding’ something when you speak. And this idea does make people lose confidence, particularly when you are speaking in a foreign language. But it is in fact the very thing that will propel your confidence forward and in turn your English ability and fluency.

Adding something to a conversation however, doesn’t need to be that dramatic. A simple yes or no, can in itself be adding something. It may appear minor, and uncreative as it is only agreeing or disagreeing, but it confirms for the listener that you are present, you are listening and you have thought about what they have said, and made a gesture to show them that you are all of the above. This is very affirming to the listener and encourages them to continue….simply because of your response.

You have in fact added something very simple to the conversation – you have encouraged the person to continue, without that, they would have stopped.

Of course we all want to use more than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but this is the starting point for many. Moving onto the next point of adding an additional comment is your next move. Here are some examples of ‘add ons’:

QUESTION:        Did you see ‘Mission Impossible’ the movie?

  1. Yes
  2. Yes, I did
  3. Yes, I did and I really enjoyed it.
  4. Yes, I did and I really enjoyed it – what about you?
  5. Yes, I did and I really enjoyed it – what about you? What did you think of it?

And so on.

Adding something in English isn’t just about stringing more words together, its also about pushing forward the conversation, so that there is even more to add after that.

As the picture shows – 1 + 1 =……….even more than you started with. Try this.


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