6 ways to STOP translating in your head & THINK in another language


Hello everyone and welcome back to English with Lucy

I probably look a little bit different today and that it's

because I think I live in the hottest flat in England

or at least in Cambridge

Oh my God

right, so it's around 27, 28 degrees outside which for England is really really hot

but inside my flat it's like a damn rain forest

it's humid muggy

that's a really good word

muggy is when it's like heavy hot sticky air


and I have a whole wall of windows which is great

because it lets in a lot of light

but it also

contributes to a green house effect in my flat and so I'm actually boiling


I couldn't bring myself to do my hair

cause it was just like put it in and then it would fall out again

and also no turtle necks today

got my Coca Cola t-shirt instead

which is not sponsored

wish it was sponsored, imagine having Coca Cola sponsoring you, awesome

so today is a really really really important video

Today I'm going to give you some advice on how to stop translating

into your native language

Because a lot of people have this problem

I've asked lots of English learners and learners of other languages

and they say: "I would be able to speak so much more fluently if I could stop translating"

now, most of you probably already knew this

if you are new to this channel then I speak fluent Spanish

and I'm actively learning Italian

and I remember at the beginning of my Spanish learning journey

I really find it hard not to translate

and translating between English and Spanish can be really really difficult

and annoying

because the word other is so different

I'm now learning Italian actively

and I'm managing to do so without translating into Spanish or English


Speaking from my own experience as a language learner

and speaking from my experience as an English language teacher

I'm going to give you some advice and hopefully

help you get over this massive massive problem

that it's preventing you from improving

Firstly, before we get started I'd just like to thank the sponsor of today's video


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Let's get started with the video

Oh my God


I bet all of you are in your country

Actually, let's do something fun tell me where you live and

what temperature is where you are right now cause I bet something of you are in like 40 degree heat

I know my friends in Seville are really suffering with the heat and I'm here with 27 degrees


I'm very sensitive

Okay so I've been thinking about this question for a long time

and I have actually made some notes on my phone

just because I want to get it in the right order for you

so bear with me


How to avoid translating into your native language?

Well, the first tip I can give you and this will not apply to everyone

is don't start in the first place

if you are in like a beginner level of English

some translation is inevitable

I mean, you are going to do it

the way we learn in school is





We learn through translation


Think back to when you were a baby

How did you acquire your first ever language?

Your mother tongue

You learn through observing, seeing, watching, hearing, smelling, tasting

watching actions

you didn't learn through translation

because you had nothing to base your translation on

because you had no mother tongue

so babies are capable of learning a langue without any other language as reference

yet, we find it incredibly difficult

So, what you need to think is simplification

Babies start small and over years and years and years they build their vocabulary

and you need to apply this to yourself as well

is much more effective to learn vocabulary by observing and taking things in

than it is to just you know looking something at a dictionary

and that brings me on to my next point

Oh my God! I'm so hot!

and that brings me on to my next point which is

Grab your bilingual dictionary and throw it

out of the window! Don't do that, okay? It might land on somebody's head

Just place it to one side very carefully

and then pick up your monolingual dictionary

Is that the word for it?

And then

Pick up the dictionary in the language that you are learning

In many of your cases it would be English

and start letting the language define itself

so with words like nouns and verbs it can be a little difficult to understand

but that's what you need to learn through observation

When you are looking at adjective, adverbs and other things like that

Try to understand the definition in that same language first

Because what you are going to be doing is training yourself to think in the language that you are learning

Which brings me on to my third point

Oh my God! What a beautifully well planned out video this is

So my next two points are about thinking and speaking to yourself in that language

Now I actually recommend that you start by speaking out loud to yourself in the other language

I think I mentioned that in a video about conversation, improving your conversation and communication

if you are interested in that then you can watch that video just up there

However speaking to yourself in the other language is a really really key factor

in learning to think in the language


For example with Spanish I'll be driving

and I'll describe the movements that I'm going to be making with the car

So I'll be like

'Conduciendo, conduciendo, voy a girar a la derecha...


That it's what I do

or I'll be pottering around my kitchen, cooking and talking to myself about what I'm doing


you will start to notice your own errors, specially when you hear yourself speaking out loud

Once you are comfortable speaking out loud to yourself in private in that additional language

Move on to starting to think

Now, I think speaking should come before thinking

But that's just my opinion, everybody learns in different ways

I personally think it's easier to spot errors and get comfortable when you are speaking out loud

Now, the speaking out loud, we should do in private

but the thinking I want you to do it everywhere

on the bus, seeing what goes past

it can relate to the video I made on how to learn and remember vocabulary which you can watch up here

it's a useful method where you observe everything around you check if you see if you know it in your own chosen language

the full explanation it's in the video and some people have found that really really useful

I know I found it useful

see if you can apply using a monolingual dictionary to that video

think I recommend using a bilingual one, see if you can do it with an English dictionary

yeah, so by thinking in English and I'm talking about

you know describing people, if you see someone walking think to yourself

"That man is walking" "He is walking down the street"

or just go in through your motions

"I'm getting off the bus" "I'm going to go to the shops"

in your head

you are just starting to immerse yourself in the language

Ah! That beautiful word! Immerse

to immerse yourself

Brings me on to point number five which is


and that's actually one of my favorite words

I know I have a lot of favorite words but




that's nice, that's a nice word

So immersion is something that you should be doing throughout your learning experience

and it's something that you can do whilst multitasking

which is one of my favorite things

So, when I'm doing something that doesn't require a hundred percent concentration

Like cooking or cleaning

I always have something on in the background

Cleaning, cooking, washing the car, gardening, whatever

whatever any task that allows you to listen to something else at the same time as doing something else

Have something on in that language in the background

I know I'm saying it as if it's revolutionary but really don't forget to do it

I know you can waste so much time and miss out on so much learning

By, by having it on in the background and not even listening you will be getting used to pronunciation and accents

by listening and concentrating on what they are saying you will be familiarizing yourself with certain grammar

different vocabulary but also you will notice where you are lacking

So, if you listen to a radio program about

so if you listen to a radio program about politics for example

My last point is make it daily

Focus on frequency and consistency

Okay, I always say to my students that twenty minutes a day of high quality

Not even studying, just language acquisition

I sometimes surprise myself with the words that come out of my mouth

Twenty minutes a day of high quality English time

There we are, that sounds more like something Lucy would say

it's much much much more valuable

than a hundred and forty minutes all in one day


Make the general immersion and the thinking and the speaking to yourself

something that you do throughout your day, make it part of your routine

Make it become automatic to you

You know I sometimes now go for an hour thinking in Spanish

or you know thinking out loud in my head in Spanish and then I realize and I go


You know, I just said something, I've just been speaking Spanish the whole time

and it is because I do it so often it becomes automatic


the little tweaks and the little kind of self-help part that you are doing at the end

which is

you know, searching definitions for words

working on the grammar that you've identified that you are lacking in

or attempting to expand your vocabulary

that should be short and should be daily

Right guys, as always I want to know your opinions

you guys are a bunch of extremely intelligent minds and

I love, I love hearing your recommendations

and I apply them to my daily life as well

So, I'd love to know something that helped you stop translating into your native language

I'm sure you've got lots to share

In my other video where I asked you how many languages you speak

Some of you speak like seven languages which is unbelievable

and really awesome really impressive

honored to have a group of students like you guys

Yes, so please share your recommendations and your experience

In the comments below and also constructive criticism it's completely welcome

So if you don't agree with something I say, say it

say it in a nice way, because I like everyone to be respectful here but

I'm not the goddess of English

what I say doesn't go

but I really do hope that I helped you

and that's it for the video today

Don't forget to check out Lingoda and see if it's for you

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I will see you soon for another lesson