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October 28, 2021: Can I jump in?


A colleague was recently speaking to me about her English language learners’ expressed need to know how to interrupt, or “jump in” (a frequently used phrasal verb in English) with an idea or question while interacting with other students in class.

Of course, it got me thinking…


When musicians collaborate, we often share opinions and ideas about interpretation, phrasing, articulation, staging, harmonization, tempo changes, sound quality, instrumentation - and the list goes on. Conversations can be fast-paced; it may be difficult to know how and when to express ideas or ask questions, especially while trying to absorb all that language whizzing by.

Think about the ways you “jump in” when you speak another of your languages. What’s acceptable? What’s polite? What’s not?

Here are just a very few suggestions to try next time you want to enter a conversation to:

· Add information

· Ask for more information

· Ask for more time


Notice: In English we sometimes say “excuse me” or “sorry…” first, to make our comment more polite. We use modal verbs such as “can” or “could” for the same reason.

Think: Which phrases below are similar to other languages you speak? Making connections between languages can give us more confidence to speak!

You can start by getting others’ attention:

· Raising a hand or first finger

· Saying Ummmm…, Hmmm…, Well… or So…

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Adding information:

· Excuse me, I have an idea…

· Can I jump in?

· Can I add something here?

· Just a thought…

· What about _____? Can we talk about that?

· I think we might have missed something… (add your thoughts next)


Asking for more information or clarification:

· Sorry, could you explain that?

· Hmmm, I’m not sure I understand…

· Sorry, but what about….?


Asking for more time:

· Hold on… or Sorry, hold on…

· Just a second…

· (Please) Wait – I need a minute…

Good luck experimenting with “jumping in” in English! Leave a question or comment about your experiences. in the member's chat section.

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