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Do you want to THINK IN ENGLISH? I mean truly THINK in English…without translating everything back to your native language in your mind? Let’s get you started!
If you’re translating in your head, then you know that that’s a frustrating way to speak English. But the good news is there are concrete things you can do and practice to stop translating in your head and start thinking in English. In this video we’re going to give you tips and strategies to start thinking in English, stop translating in your head, and increase fluency speaking English. And what a better way to start 2020 than with this goal.
First, I want you to name one reason why you want to start thinking in English. I want to learn to think in English so I can easily participate in conversation.
Whatever your reason is, I know it’s a good one. And I think in 2020, you can make that happen. The first tip is to start simple and name objects around you in English.
I remember when I was learning German and I was doing this, I had to learn the article as well, der, die, das.
We don’t have that in English, but it doesn’t hurt to really focus on the pronunciation as you’re thinking of simple objects. In fact, that’s why I started my YouTube channel and even my Academy – when I was learning German, French, and Italian as an opera student, I couldn’t find any resources that focused enough on pronunciation. And I knew that to be effective, I needed the right pronunciation right from the beginning. So I created my YouTube channel and my Academy to put pronunciation forward. So take a moment as you’re naming objects to think about pronunciation:
Closet. Box. Million subscriber button. Cool. Globe. Window.
And if you’re not sure about the pronunciation, listen to some native speakers. You can use an online dictionary. Also, Youglish is a great resource for this.
Computer, compute. They’re all saying with a flap. Compu– rarararara. A flap instead of TT, a T sound. Computer. Computer. Middle syllable stress. If you can add this step, of focusing on the pronunciation and listening to native speakers, awesome, if not, if you only have 15 seconds, and you’re naming as many as you can, that’s okay too.
So that’s step one and it’s simple. Take a moment, look around you, and name all of the objects that you can in English. If you can do that very easily, then you can move on. But if that’s a challenge for you, spend some time on object naming. Every time you’re in a new room, a new environment, take a few seconds to do it. Note words you don’t know, look them up, learn them. The context will help you remember them.
The next step is to think in simple sentences. Stop right now and think of the beginning of a sentence: I’m—. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m working. Do it. In English. I’ll wait a few seconds. You’re starting with ‘I’m…’
Now look around you. What can you say about anything in your environment?
This chair is comfy.
The drawer is open.
My desk is messy.
That one’s easy because it’s almost always true. If there’s something you can’t describe, look up the words you need in a dictionary, memorize it. Memorize that phrase. Learning in context like this will help. Speaking of dictionaries, see if you can do this.
Get an English-only dictionary rather than a translating dictionary between English and your native language. If you come across a word in English that you don’t know, use the English-only dictionary, a Learner’s dictionary.
Can you see what we’re doing here? We’re building your mind to work in English mode rather than translation mode. There is a thing called a Learner’s dictionary, and it describes every word in English, in simple words and terms. Try it. Merriam-Webster has one, Oxford, Cambridge. If you have to learn and understand a word by reading in English, by studying what it means in English, then you’ll know it as an English word. Not as a translation of your language.
So you’ve named single words, and you’ve made simple sentences. The next step is …
Have small conversations with yourself in English.
With yourself? Yes, you don’t feel pressure to speak quickly, to come up with the next thing. You can keep the pace slow, relaxed. I absolutely did this when learning Spanish. In fact, I remember a car trip I did by myself from Sarasota to Gainesville where the whole time I spoke to myself in Spanish.
If this is hard for you, stop and give up. No!! It will get better and easier with practice. Do it every day. Set aside 2 minutes every day to have a simple conversation with yourself.
Give yourself 30 days. Do this every day for 30 days. Don’t take a day off. If you have five minutes one day, do it for five minutes. A whole conversation, as simple as it needs to be, in English. In 30 days, you’ll see. Wow. I did improve. This is worth my time. And rededicate 30 more days.
Once you’re able to do this, I think you’re able to do step 4, which is really exciting.
Change at least one of your everyday life things to English.
Everyday life things? What’s that? Switch your calendar to English. Use the English months and days of the week and write what you’re going to be doing in English. Or do you do to-do lists? Try it in English. A grocery list. Or change your Facebook settings so that your language is in English. Everything you see, you’ve got a friend request, and so on, will be in English.
Maybe try internet searches in English. Or read an English newspaper, or listen to news in English. Do you write a journal? Try writing it in English. Yes! I love this. Take one everyday thing and do it in English. Switch your brain. Every morning when you wake up, before you get out of bed, take two minutes to think about your day in English.
Here’s another idea of an everyday thing you can do in English: take one thing like getting dressed, making breakfast, getting from your car to your desk, cleaning up. As you’re doing it, in your head, narrate in English.
Laundry day. That’s light, that should go there. Let’s see. Does this need to be sprayed for stains? Yeah. Better spray it. All right, let’s load up the washing machine. Oop, that’s too light, that should go there. Okay, shove it all in. Let’s get some soap. Where is that? Here it is. Put it in there, close the door, press ‘start’, there we go!
And here’s another one I love: learn how to do one thing in English. It can be really small, like, how to poach an egg. Research it and learn about it in English only, watch only English videos and read only English instructions. Or maybe it’s something bigger, a bigger project like how to knit or how to draw. Take an online course in English only on that topic. Pick something you’re dying to know how to do anyway. This will make it a super-enjoyable lesson.
The next step is something you’re actually going to want to be doing all along, with all the steps, and that’s…keep track so you’re doing it every day.
Once you choose that you want to think English and stop translating in your head, write down every day what you do. And of course, do this in English. It could look like this:
Today I named everything around me that I could think of in English two different times. I watched a 3-minute news story in English.
Just having a place to write it down can motivate you to do it.
And the last thing is something you can do every night after you lay down for bed, but before you fall asleep. Recap your day in English.
You’re taking advantage of this opportunity that you’ll have every day, no matter where you are or what your day was like: no one I know falls asleep the moment their head hits the pillow.
What a lovely day that was. I got to meet my mom for lunch, go for a walk in the afternoon, and I even had time to watch a movie after I put the kids down to bed.
And who knows, by putting your mind in English mode just before bed, maybe you’re even setting yourself up to dream in English, continuing your practice. The brain does amazing things with what it’s learned that day while you sleep.
What have you done to build a consistent English practice to help you start to think in English? Put it in the comments so others can learn from your best tips. Which of these ideas is new to you? Or which are you most excited about? Let me know.
The next video I want you to watch is one with tips on increasing your vocabulary. This can help with naming objects, and, of course, starting to have those conversations with yourself in your head. Please don’t forget to subscribe with notifications, I make new videos on speaking English every Tuesday. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.