Are you translating words from your native language in your head while you are speaking English? When you do this, you a long time to speak and your English sounds unnatural because the sentence structure is different! If you want to sound more natural when you speak English, you need to learn how to think in English.
Learning to think in English will make you a more confident English speaker because you will speak more naturally, fluently and with less hesitation.
But you have to train your brain to do it. Watch this video to learn how!
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
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I can already hear you saying, “But Emma! I need to think in my native language to translate, it’s too hard! I don’t know enough English vocabulary to do it!“
But listen, that is the long, slow and painful road to English fluency. When you do this, your English sounds unnatural because the sentence structure is different in your language. And it probably takes you a long time to say what you need to say because you are translating in your head as you speak.
We are going to learn a few strategies to help train your brain to think in English.
So start with very simple vocabulary. When you’re at home, think about the English words for things that you see around you: shoes, flowers, desk, door. When you are on the train or you’re driving to work, look out the window and think of the English word for the things that you see: dog, factory, busy, windy, people.
In fact, we’re going to try it right now.
So I want you to close your eyes, take a deep breath because when you open your eyes you are going to look around the room in front of you and THINK in English. Only in English, not in your native language. You’re going to think (in English) of the words for everything that you see around you, okay?
So take that deep breath again and open your eyes and look around you, thinking of the English words only.
Great! Now if that was easy, we can move onto the next level. If it was hard, that’s okay too! But you’ll need to practice every day, doing the same thing in different places – it will become easier. You’re training yourself to think in English. So you can do it at home, or at work, on the train or when you’re at the cafe, waiting for a friend.
Then you can move onto simple sentences. For example, “Your hair’s really long.” or, “What’s he eating for lunch?” or “That chair looks really uncomfortable.”
So do the same thing now, I want you to look around the room and make three simple sentences about what you see. Remember! No translating, you’re not allowed to think in your native language, at all! And if this is too difficult, go back to thinking of simple vocabulary words.
Okay, so close your eyes, take a deep breath and go!
Okay, if that was easy you can move to the next level, which is to plan your day in English, thinking in English. So when you wake up in the morning and you’re still lying in bed, think about everything that you need to do that day – in English.
After I eat breakfast, I’ll walk to the bus stop and I’ll catch the bus to work. On the bus I’m going to read my book. I’m meeting Matilda for lunch today and I think we’re going to get takeaway and eat it in the park. It’s going to be such a nice day.
So, when thinking in English sentences and planning your day with simple sentences becomes easy, move on to thinking in conversation!
Now, this is great when you’re sun baking on the beach or hiking up a mountain or you’re in the shower, getting ready for your day and you have some time alone, in your head!
So there’s nothing to distract you. Now, thinking in conversation is really great because you’re asking the questions, then thinking of answers to those same questions and also, ways to keep the conversation going. So it’s really great conversation practice!
Now if talking to yourself in your head sounds strange, or silly…Well I guess it probably is! Get one of your friends to help! And no, I don’t mean ask one of your friends to have a shower with you! That would get, maybe a little bit weird and awkward… You might not have the same relationship again after that.
I just mean imagine that they are part of the conversation in in your head. So when you’re asking the questions, how would they answer? What would they think about the things you’re saying?
As you’re walking down the street, in your head you could be saying “It’s so hot today isn’t it? Yeah it is, I wish I’d brought my hat, that sun is scorching! It reminds me of a week that I spent in Dubai actually, it was over 40 degrees Celsius. Hey, are you sure Sally’s meeting us here? We’ve been waiting for so long now.“
Practising this skill and doing it regularly will help train your brain to think in English. I recommend that you find a time in your day where you always do this. Every day.
So for example, every morning, after you brush your teeth, spend 5 minutes thinking in conversation or planning your day. Or it could be on your lunch break. Work on it every day and you will make it happen. You will train your brain to think in English so that when it comes to speaking in English it flows naturally. Your words flow naturally because you’re not translating in your head – you’re thinking in English!
See you soon!