Fri, 27 Apr 2018 11:48:47 +0000When we start studying a language we seem to be always translating everything in our head before we dare express it out loud. We’re aware, though, that this can’t continue for long. It is terribly exhausting and slows us down, just to name a few of it’s disadvantages. Having a conversation in…
When we start studying a language we seem to be always translating everything in our head before we dare express it out loud. We’re aware, though, that this can’t continue for long. It is terribly exhausting and slows us down, just to name a few of it’s disadvantages. Having a conversation in our target language becomes almost impossible to carry on for long.
Why is it difficult to start thinking in a foreign language?
The first, and may be the most important reason is that we’ve been trained from an early age to think in our mother tongue. It is what we’ve been doing forever ans it is hard to reprogram our brain to act differently.
The other powerful reason is the way languages are generally taught. We’ve been encouraged to translate every single word and memorise vocabulary with its translated equivalent. This practice makes it difficult to switch over to a monolingual way of thinking exclusively in the target language. I have talked about the disadvantages of such learning method. Here again the student gets used to translating every word into the mother tongue instead of grasping the meaning into context, which makes it impossible to drop at advanced stages of the learning process.
But not all is lost. There are ways to reverse the damage and first and foremost to stop translating.
1- Stop thinking every single sentence word by word
First in your mother tongue and then trying to find a translation in your second language. Most of the time this literal translation does not match what you intend to convey. Instead, use the basic structures of your sentence.
For example start with the subject➡ I, we,my Mum etc….
. carry on with the verb ➡ which tells the action you want to portray,
and then the object.
- Examples:➡ My Mum is outside
- ➡I am tired. etc
Use this basic structure for every sentence you want to make. Always keep it simple.
2- Learn the words into context
First get the general meaning of the text you’re reading, and most of the time you will understand that new word you came across with. When trying to memorise it, connect this word with others. This will help you retrieve this group of words more easily, when needed.
Example: early ➡start
3- Pair words
Match your new vocabulary with their synonyms and also with their opposite
Example: Big – Huge ( synonym).
Big- Small ( opposite )
It is an easy way to increase your vocabulary fast and effortlessly.
4- Use a dictionary in your target language
When you come across an unknown word, instead of looking for its meaning in your mother tongue, use a descriptive dictionary in your target language which will give you an interpretation of the word and help you understand it in context. You will see that it will be easier for you to recall these words.
5- Learn Phrases and expressions
Phrases and expressions will help you express yourself like a native speaker if you learn to use them naturally in your conversations. Besides you will have the added bonus of easy recollection.
6- Practice thinking in your target language
Keep a dairy in your second language and write a few sentences a day about what you plan to do, and what you’ve achieved. It will force you to think in the foreign language and you will learn day to day vocabulary. This will help you boost your confidence when talking.
7- Practice Listening and Speaking
The ideal would be to talk to native speakers on a daily basis. But if not possible, there are various other ways like Skype conversations and Facebook groups, where you can practice the language and you will be kept motivated.
Record yourself talking about any subject in your second language. Listen back to it. Correct any mistake, pay attention to your pronunciation.
Listen to music, news, TV programs. This could give you inspiration to use in your conversations.
It won’t happen in a day, but by making daily changes in your learning, no matter how small, and with motivation and dedication you will notice how you will gradually drop your translating habit, be more confident, and start thinking and expressing yourself in your target language.
Do you want to know your level at the language you’re currently studying? Take this Quiz!