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4 Tips to Stop Translating in Your Head and Start Thinking in English

If you are a foreign language learner, then you probably often find yourself translating words and sentences from your native language to the language you’re learning or vice versa.  As a matter of fact, it is a natural thing to do. Yet, you could add to your fluency if you stopped doing it.

 

Here are a few tips on how to get rid of this habit.

1.Don’t use a bilingual dictionary

First of all, you should use a monolingual dictionary. That way, you won’t learn what a word or a phrase means in your native language but in the language you’re learning and won’t be tempted to translate it.

 

2.Pretend you understand everything

Try to read a book without a dictionary. I know it might be hard and frustrating at first, and you won’t be able to understand the text you’re reading as if it was written in your native language. This practice will add to your fluency even more and will help you speak in a foreign language without hesitation. It doesn’t have to be a book. It can be a film with or without subtitles in the language you’re learning. While you’re reading or watching, try to memorize phrases as they can be ready sentences you can use instead of making them from scratch.

3.Think in your target language

Try to adopt a habit of thinking in English. For instance, while you’re doing something in the kitchen or sitting on a bus, you can create sentences in English. You can tell yourself: “I’ll cook some potatoes and set the table when I get home” or “after I finish this, I’ll invite Maria to come over.” Then you can try to explain situations that happened during the day or retell entire day in English in your head. Start from the beginning: “I woke up early today and I didn’t have time to have breakfast at home because I had to hurry in order not to be late for the meeting”, etc… You can do the same with the previous day as well as try to “think in English” about your future expectations. That’s how you’ll train your mind to get used to English phrases and begin using them more easily. I assure you that your translating habit will eventually disappear.

4.Prepare your sentences in advance

Finally, you can prepare yourself for future conversations by creating ready-made sentences in your head. Think about useful sentences you could use, such as: “Hey, what’s up? How you’ve been doing? Have you done your homework? I’m fine, thanks.” You can use these sentences automatically and naturally in your speech.

Adopting just one of these four habits will definitely shorten the time you need to process the information in your head and help you express yourself faster and more naturally.

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One thought on “4 Tips to Stop Translating in Your Head and Start Thinking in English

  1. As usual, you are spot on regarding translating into L1 . I also strongly encourage my students to adopt this method. I’ve found that by starting with something not so daunting, like listening to a song on YouTube without translation helps the student feel less inclined to translate, and is a fun activity at the same time. Well said Antri. !

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