English with Nab

How to think in English // stop translating in your head.

How to think in English or any other language?

If you live in a place where most people speak the language you are learning, and you may use the language for several hours each day.

So, it may become part of your “inner speech.” In other words, you start thinking in that language.

Your mind stops trying to translate things from your native language into the second language.

But, the majority of you live in places where English is not the main language.

This may be true for you. You may not have many chances to practice English. You may even be self-taught.

When you speak, your speech might be slower than you would like.

This is because your mind is still translating from your first language, which can also sound unnatural.

English, like every other language, has its own sentence structure.

The good news is that thinking in English can bring you a huge step closer to fluency! It is not very difficult, but it does take conscious effort and practice.

I will share some mental exercises that can help you to think and express yourself in english 🙂

Tip #1: Think in single words

Most experts note that it’s best to start small. Take it as a small book. So, a good first step is to think in individual words.

When you’re just starting, you might find it hard to remember to think in English.

Here are some tricks you can use to remind yourself to think in English once or twice a day.

Look around you. What do you see? In your head, try to name each object in your surroundings. For example, now I see a cellphone or smart phone, a desk, a computer, a screen, a locker behind me etc…

As you continue with this, it becomes more of a habit, so things are going to pop up into your head… whatever it is… wherever you are.

Also you can use your phone. Change your phone’s lock screen to say “Think in English!” This way every time you look at your phone, you get a reminder.

a) Turn it into a game

Give yourself points every time you remember to think in English for five minutes. Once you reach a certain number of points, you can give yourself a reward!

b) Leave notes around the house

For example, leave a note on your Fridge with words that you would use in a kitchen. This reminds you to do your daily English thinking, and gives you a group of vocabulary words you can use.

With just these small steps, you’ll make it easier for you to think in English as you learn more words.

The more you grow your skills, the more you can add to your thoughts, and soon you’ll be thinking in full sentences.

c) Start with nouns and then add in verbs

number two and is the next step:

Tip #2: Think in sentences

The next exercise is thinking in simple sentences.

For example, if you are sitting in a park, you can tell yourself things like, “It’s such a beautiful day” and “People are playing sports with their friends.”

Once this becomes easy, you can move on to more difficult sentences.

Try to say these sentences in your head or try to put the words together without thinking too much about if it’s absolutely correct… Don’t do that, leave the grammar for another time!

a) Describe your day

Another exercise you can do is to describe your daily activities. There are a few ways to do this. You can mentally make plans in the morning when you wake up. This would require other verb tenses. So the skill level is a little higher.

For example, you might tell yourself, “When I leave the house, I’m going to take the subway, but first I should buy the ticket and on my way I will grab a coffee”.

Tip #3: Think in conversation

Now, let’s move to thinking in conversation.

  • How can I do that Nab?

Of course, when you speak to other people you don’t just tell them about your day. Conversations come in many different topics, so you’ll want to practice conversations as well.

  • What if I don’t have someone to practice with?

All you have to do: is make some up! Choose a topic and pretend you’re speaking to someone about it.

If you’re traveling next week to New York, you can pretend to be in New York City and what places we should visit, restaurants, what kind of restaurants, food, museums. If you’re just trying to learn a new list of vocabulary words, you can ask yourself questions about the words.

Any topic is fine!

If you’re stuck, you can find a huge list of conversation topics on my website.

When you do this, you are imagining yourself speaking to someone else. You are asking the questions and thinking of replies.

This is a great way to practice what you might say in a real conversation.

For example, let’s say you have an imaginary friend, and we call him Peter. He asks you a question like “What do you think about last night’s movie?”

Imagine the conversation and practice it in your head. You can do this out loud or in silence.

Tip #4: Get creative

This is my best tip ever to be used when you don’t know how to say something in English.

So you’re sitting in the park and practicing your English with your friend. That’s great!

But what do you do when you can’t think of how to say a word? Instead of interrupting a conversation to pull out a dictionary app, it’s time to get creative.

There’s always more than one way to express something. Even if you don’t know a word, you can get your idea across by thinking creatively and using other words.

For example, if you’re trying to explain to someone that you want to go to the toilet, but you can’t remember the word “Toilet”, you can tell them:

  • I need the bathroom.
  • Where is the restroom?
  • I need to pee.
  • Excuse me, I’ll be back in a minute

Or if you’re familiar with English expressions, you can use: “Got to go…nature calls” or “I’m just going to the john”.

All these sentences don’t use the word “toilet,” but they’re clear enough to be understood that you want to go to the toilet. Even we changed completely the structure of these sentences.

So if you get stuck while thinking in English, don’t cheat and use your native language. Instead, think of a way around the word. You can change the sentence structure, and vocabulary. This will be a huge help to you when you’re having an actual conversation and can’t remember a word.

Tip #5: Take notes

For all of these exercises, there will be words and phrases that you do not know. So, at some point you will need to use a dictionary.

If your skill level is high enough, I highly recommend using an English-to-English dictionary.

Write down just five to 10 new words and phrases each day, and stick them somewhere. Like I said before, you can use your fridge or your bathroom mirror.

It helps you remember the situation that you needed that word or phrase for. This makes it easy to recall when you are in such a situation again.

Practice it daily.

You might ask:

  • How much time should you spend on these exercises?

So when you’re doing it every day, over and over again, little by little, that’s the key. Because, when you make things a habit, then it just pops up into your mind without thinking, and then before you know it, really, you’re thinking in English.If you want to see all of these tips in a video to practice your listening skills, comprehension and pronunciation…  check it out my Youtube vídeo here: 

Grammar in nutshell
Using correct grammar makes listening and reading easier for others...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
Confusing word
Some words look the same, while others sound the same....
Rated 5.00 out of 5
Phrasal Verb List
Phrasal verbs are important because they are part of the...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
400 Common mistakes
Mistake or Error is an action or judgment that is...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
300 English Idioms
An idiom is a commonly used phrase in the language...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
35 Questions to an Interview
You will very likely be interviewed many times in your...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
English for Everyone
For every single English student that complains about the lack...
Rated 5.00 out of 5
I Am a Better Speaker
Everything you want in life is on the other side...

14 thoughts on “How to think in English // stop translating in your head.”

  1. Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Hello! I wish to say that this post is awesome, greaat written and come with approximately aall important infos.
    I’d like to look extra posts like this! 🙂

  3. Took me time for you to read many the comments, nonetheless We really appreciated the write-up. The idea proved to always be Very helpful to my opinion plus My partner and i am sure to everyone the commenters here! It is always nice when a person can not merely be knowledgeable, but also entertained!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *