What do I do in this situation?
This question goes out to the more experienced learners. When you were out practicing your language, perhaps speaking to a man in spanish or ordering something in German, what did you do if you could not form your thought? Do you just stand there in front of them speechless, trying to form a sentence that could possibly replace your idea? I want to start practicing abroad, but am afraid to encounter this situation.
Yeah, I know that situation! One sometimes knows what one wants to say, but the words just don't come ... In my experience, what I do is go to one of my standards sentences / phrases that I have practiced well 'Como se dice, " ... the phrase in english ...."'. This indicates to the Spanish speaker that you are battling to say whatever it is, even if they cant help you, it helps you out of a pickle! It also gets you saying something and time to rearrange your thoughts. Often the words will then just come to you.
It is also good to have a number of well practiced stock phrases/sentences/questions, like: Could you say/ask that again please, Could you say that more slowly, I don't know, I don't remember, I don't know how to say it, I haven't thought about it etc - which are good answer phrases to help you out of a tight spot.
Questions are especially good if you can put them in as they move the onus onto your speaking partner, eg what do you do (for work), how do you do that, are you married, do you have a car .... etc.
Remember that most foreign speakers will immediately know you are a beginner and be tolerant. My own experience is that they are always willing to help!
This has helped me - I hope this helps you too!
The stock phases are a big help. You can make a list of them and practise them.
Start off your conversation by saying, "I'm a beginner," or, "I don't know a lot of x language." This way, the person will understand your difficulties and be more patient with you. Worst comes to worst, just revert to your native language. Be confident and don't be afraid!
You're level 10 in german. I assume that is your language of choice for learning.
If you're going to attempt a basic conversation, say "Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut." This is "My German is not good." Don't worry, most people will respect your lack of fluency and won't be offended.
Whenever I'm nervous, I imagine all the times I've spoken to people who don't speak good English because it's their second language. It's pretty much the same, just reversed. Be cool about it. Chuckle and ask for help if you don't know a word for something.