Do you want to begin thinking in English more? Naturally, it can be challenging to switch from thinking in your native language to English. But today, I’m sharing with you three strategies that I’ve used myself to start thinking in English.
Are you already using any of these strategies? Let me know!
Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 372. And today we are going to talk about strategies to think in English.
Hey, hey everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in. You are listening to this at the beginning of 2024. So if you are listening to this as we release the episode, I want to wish you a happy new year, and may 2024 be a year of health and peace, and great breakthroughs, especially in English.
Today, we are going to talk about something that a lot of my students struggle with, which is how to stop translating in your head when you’re speaking freely, and essentially, how to think in English.
I remember, when I had my first dream in English, I felt like it was a huge breakthrough for me. And after that, I also noticed that I was catching myself thinking in English. And while it’s something that happens naturally when you’re immersed in a language, when you learn it, when you listen to it, you can be intentional about it, and this is why I wanted to record this episode for you.
If you enjoy this episode, please consider rating the podcast and even writing a review because it really helps people discover the podcast. So people who might need help with speaking English with clarity and confidence might read your review and say to themselves, “Hm… That’s worth listening to.” So, if you do have a minute after listening to this episode, I would truly appreciate it. Anyway, let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.
Do you feel like you’re translating in your head when speaking in English, and that makes you get stuck or feel like you’re really slow or just makes you feel insecure? In this video, I’m going to share with you three strategies that will help you to think in English and as a result, speak English more confidently and fluently. Stay tuned.
But before we talk about how to stop translating in your head and how to think in English, I want to debunk some myths. It’s not like you only think in one language and then you either think in English and then speak it, or think in Spanish, let’s say, and then translate it and then you speak it (which is sometimes how people feel the brain works) – no. In many cases, it’s a lot more fluid.
Sometimes a thought is not defined by words and you define it as you speak. Sometimes you think both in your first language and in English when speaking in English. And sometimes, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience, you may form a sentence first in your first language, and then you might want to translate it as you speak. Sometimes people translate it first to be on the safe side in their head, and then they speak.
So, there isn’t a linear process that is always the same when it comes to speaking in English. But either way, the exercises that I’m going to share with you today are going to help you with a smooth transition from a thought to spoken English.
Now, if you’re new to my channel, let me introduce myself. My name is Hadar, I’m a non native speaker of English, and I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. On my website, hadarshemesh.com, you can find a ton of free resources and lessons to help you speak English with clarity and practice effectively. You can also check out my Instagram and TikTok and all other social media channels.
All right, so let’s get started. The first strategy to think in English and to stop translating in your head is to journal in English. Now, journaling every day, let’s say for 10 minutes, is an exercise that is really, really recommended for your wellbeing, for being able to process your thoughts, especially if you do it first thing in the morning. And it helps you with understanding how you feel about things. It helps you manage your thoughts, and it helps you with overcoming overwhelm and being more mindful during the day.
If you do it in English, it’s also a great opportunity to translate thoughts into written words. So it’s not yet speaking, but it’s still getting you closer to the process of forming a thought and turning it into English words. So spending 10 minutes, and really 10 minutes is not a lot, 10 minutes a day journaling in English is something that is going to be extremely valuable for your wellbeing. It’s going to help you build a stronger mindset, and it’s definitely going to help you with improving the way you think in English, and it would prevent you from translating constantly in your head
When I was in acting school in New York City when I was 21, we were assigned to read the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. And there she talks about the importance of morning pages. And she says to improve your creativity, you have to write down every day three pages, first thing in the morning. And that would help you with your creativity, processing your thoughts, and all the other things that I’ve listed.
Now, I could choose to do it in my first language, in Hebrew, or I could choose to do it in English, and I chose to do it in English. And I think it had a huge impact on my fluency and how quickly I was able to form a thought in English. Because I did it and I wrote hundreds and hundreds of notebooks in those two years of school. And I still have those notebooks with all my writings. And I think that really helped me. So, I’m actually speaking from my own personal experience about this specific strategy. So, try it out, and if you do, let me know in the comments how it goes.
The second strategy is to deliberately think in English, as simple as that. If you want to get better at something, you have to do more of that something. I always say that when it comes to speaking, when it comes to practicing pronunciation, when it comes to using a certain word, and when it comes to thinking in English.
So, we have so many moments during the day that are kind of like empty moments, where you’re waiting for something or you are just bored. And usually what we do is we grab our phone and we scroll through social media or we turn on the TV. So I invite you to take five minutes, three minutes, one minute of, instead of doing something on autopilot that you usually do when you get bored, to sit down and deliberately think in English.
You can observe your surroundings. You can think about what you need to do next. You can simulate a difficult conversation that you might need to have with someone. You can list all the things that you want to do later today or tomorrow morning, but I encourage you to do it in English.
Now, don’t be afraid of moments where you get stuck. Let’s say, you’re trying to think about something and a word comes up in your first language or you have just an image of what you want to do or a feeling. Try to think of it in words as if you were to structure a sentence. And if you get stuck, just skip the part that is hard and continue thinking in English.
Now, it’s hard to monitor it or to give yourself feedback on how well you were able to think in English, but the more you do it, you actually create a reality of you thinking in English, and of course, your brain practices thinking in English. So that’s strategy number two.
Strategy number three is what I call stream of consciousness speaking. There is a writing genre or style called stream of consciousness, where you read the author’s way of thinking so one thought leads to another. And sometimes it is all connected and sometimes it’s not connected. It’s called stream of consciousness, which is how we actually think, right? There is a thought that leads to another thought, and sometimes they’re not logically connected.
I want you to do the same thing, because this is how we actually think. I want you to do the same thing while speaking. So that’s actually another layer of thinking in English. So basically you’re just saying everything that comes to mind. For example, you might be stuck in traffic, sitting in your car, looking around: “Oh, this woman looks like she’s having a difficult conversation on the phone. How many cars? Oh, that’s a nice pink. Oh, I need to buy my daughter a present.” Right?
So you start thinking and speaking at the same time. Ideally, you should do it when you’re on your own, not when you have a lot of people around you. Don’t try to make sense of it, just speak whatever comes to mind. It helps you with the immediacy of thinking and speaking, and again, shows you that it’s possible. So it would build your confidence speaking, even if you don’t know exactly what you want to say. Okay? So that’s another very powerful strategy. It might be a little more challenging, but I believe in you, you can do it, and just try it out.
And remember, sometimes just the act of trying is all you need to build confidence and to show yourself that it’s possible, even if the results are not exactly what you had hoped it to be. So give it a try, try these different strategies, and let me know afterwards in the comments how it goes.
I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, consider liking, sharing, and subscribing to my YouTube channel. And don’t forget to check out hadarshemesh.com for more lessons and more resources for you.
Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I will see you next week in the next video.