Hey there! This is TOP episode 163. Tips for Fluency: How to React Fast?

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. I believe you can eliminate your language blockade. The secret word here is consistency. There are other secret words too. That is why I record this podcast’s episodes, and each comes with a little worksheet, a one-pager to help you digest and test what you’ve practised here. You can speak English with confidence, slay that fear and enjoy successful communication. 

Visit my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Visit my shop at teacherola.com and enjoy your journey to fluency! Happy learning!

Welcome back! Thank you for tuning in. I love today’s topic, I’m sure you’ll love it too. I’ll give you practical ideas. What to do exactly to learn to be fluent. To react naturally, to communicate easily. 

Before we get into that. Let me tell you something, Powiedz Coś! Say Something! Speak English with TV Series Online Course is available now. To learn all the details go to powiedzcos.pl Sing up for our challenge. The challenge is free and you can sign up at powiedzcos.pl. This course will help you start speaking English fearlessly. 

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If you would like to join my lessons in a small group of 6 people, let me know. Write an email or catch me on Instagram. Thank’s for your patience and let’s get back to the episode.

Every course book for English contains this Language functions part or language reactions part. It’s usually quite brief, short listening or match halves exercise. It’s never enough basically. I’ve always thought as a student in junior high school or in high school these are fascinating tasks, there should be more. Why they don’t give us more? When it’s crucial. Well, this is exactly the problem with course books, They are not practical enough. 

They give us a lot of reading comprehension and listening comprehension tasks but they don’t teach us how people speak. Real-life tools to communicate. That’s a shame, but good to know it is what it is and now, knowing that you can be smart about it and find your own way. 

Why do you need to practice language reactions? In order to speed up your communication, to make it more dynamic. Not to translate phrases in your mind endlessly. Speed up the process and become more fluent. Learning reactions, practising them you don’t pay attention to grammar. You just go with the flow and speak. So don’t overthink it. React. You want to be able to react fast, be communicative, choose proper words, and be understood. Get that message across. 

Now, how to do it right? Is it enough if you say the useful phrases out loud? Even if you say them 5, or ten times, that might be just lacking something. What is that something you have to add in order to practice efficiently? You need methodical, well-planned smart exercise. 

I thought I’ll give you my personal tips on how to do it right. That’s exactly what I did while working at the hotel reception when I struggled most with my language blockade. I was studying English philology and everybody knew it, asked me questions, and had certain expectations. Expectations that in my mind’s eye turned into pressure. I felt pressure and embarrassment each time I missed the shot. Each tie I made a mistake I felt like a failure. Shame. So I had to figure it out because it was unbearable. 

I decided to implement a few strategies that helped me overcome my slow reaction time, my fear of speaking, my fear of being misunderstood and so on, you know what I mean. These are my top strategies how to learn to react fast, and how to be more fluent, and more confident. 


Fake it till you become it. I talked about it some time ago, please please listen to episode 84. Episode 84 ‘Four Ways to Deal with the Fear of Judgement’. Guys! Fake it till you become it. I applied this long before I learned it from Amy Cuddy in her Ted talk titled: Your body language may shape who you are. It’s a must-watch. It’s pure gold. 

Everything you need is there, so please check it! It might change how your life unfolds. It’s that powerful. Whoever wants to start speaking fluently, must watch it and apply it! In that TED talk Amy explains the mechanics of why this approach ‘fake it till you become it’  works so well. Works so fast. So that is number one. I started to act as someone who speaks fluently and understands others and communicates successfully. That made the difference. I pretended I was confident and in turn, and it’s magic I became confident. Genuinely confident. 


My second strategy is super simple. Smile. I know, it’s too simple. Yeah, but it works, ok? So smile, don’t start to panic, everything is fine, you don’t understand what that person is saying but it’s not the end of the world. Just smile, be friendly, be polite, be nice and ask them to repeat. 


I prepare this question, this request, or sets of requests. They fit all kinds of situations, more formal, less formal, in case I can’t hear someone or in case I don’t understand the words. 

Could you please repeat? I didn’t quite catch that.

Would you mind repeating that?

Sorry, I didn’t get the last beat, could you say it again, please? 

I’m so sorry. The noise is making it difficult for me to hear you. Could you say that again?

Would you mind repeating yourself? I missed the last bit.

I’m sorry, I’m confused, I’m not sure I understand what you meant by that.

That’s a new expression for me. Could you explain it?

Could you just clarify your question for me?

If I understand correctly, you think that…

Sorry, I don’t follow, would you mind rephrasing the question?

So, knowing all those phrases at that time made me feel so much more confident. Plus a simple, plus a friendly attitude and you are explained whatever you need. People will be willing to give you explicit words to make you get them. You will learn a lot from such events because they are always memorable. Trust me. Next. 


I focused on keywords. It helped me to understand the message. So if you struggle with understanding somebody’s speech teach yourself, to sieve through all the words. Sometimes they sound like a word salad, so to speak. So find the protein in that salad, and tune your ears to catch the big chunks, verbs and nouns. 


Intensive imagination training. That’s what I called it. Your imagination is your tool, it’s a place where you can train all kinds of events and all kinds of dialogues. You can rehearse. You can drill every reaction you need. I came to a point in which I looked forward to having those conversations in real life. Can you imagine? With a language blockade? I could not wait to talk, because I practised in my imagination. I had those conversations before, now I just wanted to try them out on real people. I prepared answers to common tourists’ questions. Like, what to do in Cracow when it rains, where to go, what to see, how much the tickets are, what restaurant I recommend, how to get to the airport, and so on and so forth. I was ready. I couldn’t wait, I felt excited. Think about your life, where are your pain points? What do you need English for? 

Who will you be talking to? Where will you go? What topics will you explore? Imagine those dialogues, in various versions. What if they say that what if they say something else? Imagine and play your part in your head. But say it out loud. 


Be prepared for a situation in which you will not know what to say. Leave some space for the unexpected. Be open, Don’t you dare fall into that trap of believing you can be prepared for all situations. You can’t. And that’s the beauty of speaking a foreign language. You can always learn something new and you can’t predict everything that happens. You are not a screenwriter, you are not planning out the dialogues. Be open. 

With experience, with time, with all the mistakes you make you’ll notice that those unexpected situations don’t bother you anymore. This is when your fear, your shame is gone. You are fluent. Congrats! Even if you don’t know what to say, you don’t panic, you don’t feel embarrassed but you know how to react with confidence. You know what to do to get back on track. 

The time has come, and let’s now practice. Each episode gives you this opportunity to SIOL, say it out loud. Let’s do it:

I started to act as someone who speaks fluently and understands others.

Could you please repeat? I didn’t quite catch that.

I’m so sorry. The noise is making it difficult for me to hear you. 

Could you say that again?

Would you mind repeating yourself? I missed the last bit.

That’s a new expression for me. Could you explain it?

Sorry, I don’t follow, would you mind rephrasing the question?

People will be willing to give you explicit words to make you get them.

I came to a point in which I looked forward to having those conversations in real life.

Imagine and play your part in your head.

Leave some space for the unexpected.

Before we wrap up let’s recap today’s 6 tips for fluency, for reacting faster, and communicating better:

One. Fake it till you become it.

Two. Smile.

Three. Know how to ask for repetition or paraphrasing.

Four. Focus on keywords. 

Five. Intensvie Imagination Training. Use your imagination, it’s your best tool. 

Six. Stay open for the unexpected. 

Here you have it! My six tips on getting closer to that fluency. Now, go to your inbox and get the worksheet to test yourself. Translate the sentences into English. If you aren’t a member of TOPeople download the worksheet from teacherola.com/163. Visit powiedzcos.pl and let the journey to fluency begin!

If you find this episode useful, tell your friends about my podcast. Please rate this podcast wherever you listen, be it Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcast, Youtube. That will help others learn how to become fearless speakers of English. Thanks again! I’ll see you next Wednesday! Happy learning. Take care! Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!