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15 Best Ways On How To Stop Translating Words In Your Head

03/06/2019 

If you are learning a second or even a third language, you might have noticed some things. For instance, it's hard to properly form sentences in the foreign language because you keep making them in your native and then translating them in your head.

Luckily for every language enthusiast, there are ways you can get rid of this problem and finally start thinking in the language you are learning. Here are fifteen best ways on how you can do this.

 

  1. Identify objects in your chosen language

First and foremost, stop identifying objects in your native language and start doing it with the language you are learning. What this means is that when you see a table, instead of thinking "table" in your native tongue, remember the word in the other language. This will help your brain reprogram itself in a way.

 

  1. Repeat after native speakers

The relationship between the native language and culture is undeniable. Logically, if you want to learn a language fully, you must first understand the culture. In order to do this, try repeating phrases after native speakers. Pay attention to everything from intonation to vowel or constant omission. If you remember the way they say it, you will be able to learn much faster and stop translating sentences in your head.

 

  1. Get into situations when you can't use your native language

Yes, you heard it right. Instead of avoiding having to use a foreign language, intentionally place yourself in situations when you have no other choice but to speak it. This will force you to stop using your native language and instead focus on the one you are learning. Besides, practice is never bad.

 

  1. Watch films and TV shows in your chosen language without subtitles

 Watching films and TV shows are perhaps one of the most widespread ways of learning a language. It may be hard at first, but with time you will get used to it, even the weird accents. With online streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu finding a movie or series to watch has never been easier. That is if you are learning English. If you are learning a different language, you will probably have to do some digging to find this content in the language you need.

 

  1. Don't use dictionaries

Okay, you might be thinking that this is stupid advice, but it's actually not. What this means is that you can use dictionaries, but not when you are in a classroom practicing your conversational skills. Instead of pulling out a dictionary and searching for a word you don't know or remember, describe this word to your partner. This will allow you to practice your skill of describing a vocabulary word.

 

  1. Practice common questions and responses to them

Another amazing way to stop translating words in your head is to learning the pre-made questions and replies to them. These are the ones that are most widespread in our day-to-day use at home, on the streets, at school or work, and on the market. Check out this list of most common English questions and answers to them to compile your own.

 

  1. Study with materials with no translation

A lot of materials that you get may come with a translation to your native language. For example, these can be a description of your task or a paragraph from a book that you should analyze. Instead of getting such materials, look for the ones that do not provide you with a translation. This will prompt you to figure out the meaning yourself and make you remember the phrases used in their original context.

 

  1. Immerse yourself in the language

Immersion is crucial for changing the way you think. This can be done in so many ways, from playing music in the foreign language in the background or moving to the other country completely. If you have any relatives or friends who know the language, try speaking with them as often as possible. Also, you can find penfriends on the Internet to chat.

 

  1. Learn phrases

As mentioned before with the questions, try learning phrases. Fixed word combinations and idioms will increase your vocabulary and you will start thinking in terms of the language you are learning rather than your native.

 

  1. Include your chosen language to your daily life

This is very similar to immersion, but while immersion usually concerns your casual life, including the language into your work environment, is much broader and more inclusive. You can even go as far as planning a multilingual content strategy for your company's website or blog. Try communicating with partners in their native language (if it's the one you are learning). This will increase their trust and respect for you.

 

  1. Use a learner's dictionary for new words

A learner's dictionary is a dictionary for foreign students. It is primarily made for those who are learning a language which means that the explanations are usually written in simple words and there are often examples of usage to go along. Learner's dictionaries are very good in the sense that you will have access to a simpler and easy-to-use source of information in the first stages of your language learning journey.

 

  1. Don't use a bilingual dictionary

To continue on the previous point, using a bilingual dictionary can severely influence your learning progress. If you constantly use a bilingual dictionary, your brain will automatically set itself up for translating the words in your head. Instead, use a thesaurus in the language you are learning. This way, you will learn to associate the words with their respective objects or concepts instead of words in your native language. It will also dramatically increase your vocabulary.

 

  1. Learn by observing

Observing is very good in general, but observing with an intent to learn a language is even more useful. When we are young, we don't learn a language by translating words, right? Instead, we observe different things and how other people interact with them. Adults tend to forget about this simple fact and try to learn a language by translating when in reality the opposite is more effective. You can check out this article to find out more about observational learning.

 

  1. Speak to yourself in your chosen language

A cool exercise is to speak to yourself in the language you are learning. Simply talk out loud describing things you see. It might be awkward at first, but you will get used to it and start noticing your own mistakes as you speak.

 

  1. Teach yourself to think in your chosen language

Of course, this is easier said than done. But the best way to stop translating words is to think them right away. Make it a habit to think in the language you are learning.

 

Conclusion

To sum up, even if some of these might not work for you, there are definitely the ones that will. Try different tips to see which method is most effective for you personally and stick to it until you achieve the goals you set yourself.

 

Written by Mary Hunter

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