Language teachers agree that THINKING in the language you are trying to learn is the best sign of real fluency. This is a bit different to reading, writing, listening or speaking, isn’t it?
We think all the time about everything that we see and engage with. This is such an automatic thing that mostly we are not even aware of the fact that we are thinking about things. We’re just ‘in our heads.’
To be able to do this in another language, unconsciously think in the new language, therefore requires a high degree of fluency. If you are not so fluent, you will slow down and notice what you are doing.
When you can think in a different language to your mother tongue, you are no longer translating from one to the other. Instead, you are using the rules and the cultural norms of the new language to create thoughts. Of course, if you can do this easily, speaking and writing become far easier to do.
This is a step that many people do not take. By starting to think in your new language, you get to practice all the time, whenever you want. You don’t need another person. Sure, you have no way of knowing how well you are doing. But we have some tips to help you overcome that.
Translate Your Thoughts
In low pressure, low stress situations, start to take time to think in your new language. Like when you’re in the supermarket. name everything you are buying in the new language, compose a work email in your head, describe what you see around you. It doesn’t matter how short or limited it is, get into the habit of doing it. Just focus on being as correct as you can and FIND a way to think about your day to day thoughts in the new language. Do this especially when you have learned new grammar rules or new words. Think using these new aspects to practice. You think way more than you talk, so this is a really good practice.
Start Using Monolingual Dictionaries
A great way to start thinking in a new language is to use the vocabulary you already have to acquire new vocabulary. If you use a bilingual dictionary, all you are doing is associating the new words with your mother tongue…. Instead of learning how the new words work with existing vocabulary in your new language. In other words, you are using your new language itself to learn more about it
Write in a Journal
A journal is really nothing more than a written down version of your thoughts about things. But because you are writing the thoughts down, it takes the idea of thinking in your target language to a new level by then making sure you can execute those thoughts in writing. Choose a subject that will give you a daily or weekly supply of thing to write about. Write your journal about every detail of that subject as you encounter it and focus on thinking AND writing in your target language.
TalenInstituut Language Learning Tip:
It’s no good practicing a lot if what you are practicing is incorrect. Try taking a grammar or vocabulary point that you are struggling with and use these techniques on that until you have perfected its use, then move onto the next aspect you want to master. This is a wonderful way to practice your language skills if you are self-conscious about an accent or making mistakes… and it will help you overcome both of those things in time.
Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those. To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote: www.taleninstituut.nl.
© Taleninstituut Nederland
By: David Chislett
Trainer Business English