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  1. #1
    xPolaris is offline Newbie
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    Default Thinking in English

    I don't know if I'm the only one, but my thought process is still in my native language even when I'm speaking English. For example, I memorize a telephone number in my native language, then when trying to say the numbers out loud out of the top of my head, my brain has to "translate" the numbers from my native language into English... Another example is doing math... I can do simple math very quickly in my head speaking my native language, but when I try to think in English, my brain completely freezes...

    For all the non native speakers, do you do this as well? Is there a way to remedy this? I've been trying to fix this by thinking as much in English as I could, but I don't really see an improvement...


    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    MASM's Avatar
    MASM is offline Member
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    Hi!
    For a non-native speaker is very difficult to think in English, most people experience the same as you do. I wouldn't worry too much, it is a question of practice and contact with the language. Try memorising the phone numbers or any other thing directly in English (that works for me).
    I'm quite sure non-natives never stop thinking in their mother tongue, even if they spend the rest of their lives in an English-speaking country.
    So, don't worry!!!

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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    thank you !
    alot

  4. #4
    euncu's Avatar
    euncu is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    As you may know very well, learning is about repetition. Let's say that you are seventeen years old, you are in an English-speaking country , and you've had to answer the questions about your age frequently. You're walking down a street and you see a road sign on your left. On the sign is written, "17th Street". In this particular case, If someone asks you at that very time on what street he/she is, you say automatically "seventeenth" without a pause since you've been frequently using that particular number. The more you use or are being exposed to the words(or phrases) the more quickly your mind responds by skipping the "thinking in your own language first" part.

  5. #5
    xPolaris is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    Quote Originally Posted by euncu View Post
    As you may know very well, learning is about repetition. Let's say that you are seventeen years old, you are in an English-speaking country , and you've had to answer the questions about your age frequently. You're walking down a street and you see a road sign on your left. On the sign is written, "17th Street". In this particular case, If someone asks you at that very time on what street he/she is, you say automatically "seventeenth" without a pause since you've been frequently using that particular number. The more you use or are being exposed to the words(or phrases) the more quickly your mind responds by skipping the "thinking in your own language first" part.

    Thank you, makes a lot of sense!

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    I attach a graphic I made for a Portuguese class, but the same applies to learning any language. What you're aiming to do is to cut out all the thinking (shown on the left-hand side of the picture) - which, apart from being harder to do and taking up more time, gives you much enhanced opportunities for making a mistake. And the earlier a mistake happens in that convoluted process, the more chance that the mistake will be compounded (so that the result - after all that work - is incomprehensible!)

    It's not easy in the short term to follow the direct path (shown on the right-hand side), but it means that, with lots of practice, you can communicate more fluently and accurately.

    b
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  7. #7
    xPolaris is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I attach a graphic I made for a Portuguese class, but the same applies to learning any language. What you're aiming to do is to cut out all the thinking (shown on the left-hand side of the picture) - which, apart from being harder to do and taking up more time, gives you much enhanced opportunities for making a mistake. And the earlier a mistake happens in that convoluted process, the more chance that the mistake will be compounded (so that the result - after all that work - is incomprehensible!)

    It's not easy in the short term to follow the direct path (shown on the right-hand side), but it means that, with lots of practice, you can communicate more fluently and accurately.

    b

    Totally agree. And it's basically why English learners who live in an English speaking environment is faster at learning the language than those that learn it in class in their native country.

    I liked your graphics... But like you said, it takes lots and lots of practice, but at the initial stage, you really have no choice but to use the left hand side all the time.

    As for me, it's harder for me to use fancier/narrower words when conversing. Example may be something like, "Wow that elephant is big (narrowed down --> enormous, gigantic)!"

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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    It's all a matter of usage. I found that reading a lot of English books helps immensely in thinking English. Don't use a dictionary, even if you don't understand all the words, just learn them from context.
    That will help you since you probably won't have the word saved as a native- English pair in your brain, but instead you know what the English word means without having a translation readily available in your head.
    I hope you can understand what I want to say. That's basically how thinking English works for me.

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    Quote Originally Posted by Kätzchen View Post
    It's all a matter of usage. I found that reading a lot of English books helps immensely in thinking English. Don't use a dictionary, even if you don't understand all the words, just learn them from context.
    ...
    For me, I'd say it's sometimes worth using a dictionary - but a monolingual one. If you do that, even when the situational context doesn't help, you have the context of other (non-native) words - as in the case of other books (which you mention). And certainly don't rush to a dictionary every time a word doesn't mean anything to you.

    b

  10. #10
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking in English

    Quote Originally Posted by xPolaris View Post
    ...But like you said, it takes lots and lots of practice, but at the initial stage, you really have no choice but to use the left hand side all the time.

    As for me, it's harder for me to use fancier/narrower words when conversing. Example may be something like, "Wow that elephant is big (narrowed down --> enormous, gigantic)!"
    It's surprising how little you 'need' the left-hand side; it rather depends on how you learn. If you have a teacher who keeps switching languages it's hard to get immersed.

    Personal memory: in 1971 when I was in Spain to learn Spanish, I was down on my luck, money running out, feeling rotten... And a dog threatened me. Back in England I had been friends with a Spanish-speaking family with a yappy dog. They were always shouting Vete Skippy!.

    Back to Spain: I shouted Vete!, and felt much better (at the knowledge that I had reacted in a 'Spanish' way). Fortunately, at that stage, I had not been exposed to any of the cerebral antics that language learning can sometimes involve!

    But I agree about finding long words easier. Back then I used to try to read the Vanguardia every day, and found the economics and politics articles relatively easy. But anything involving short/local words (especially sports coverage) was - as we say - 'a closed book'/'all Greek to me'.

    Glad you like the graphic - thanks.

    b

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