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How to Train Your Brain to Think in English

Have you ever stopped speaking in the middle of a conversation because you could not think of the word in English, or could not translate it quickly enough? If so, I'm going to share a few tips to start thinking in English and to stop translating in your head when you speak.

Thinking in English is a key factor to developing your fluency in English.

While having a conversation in English, translating in your head can be a very big problem. Why do I say this? I say this because it slows you down, makes you hesitate, and sometimes it can even cause you to miss out on the conversation while you're still trying to translate in your head. You need to be able to process information quickly and respond immediately.

On top of that, a lot of slang, idioms and phrasal verbs can be difficult to translate quickly! If they can be translated and understood in the same context at all! It really is best for you to improve your fluency if you stop translating in your head and learn to start thinking in English.

Stop learning through translation. Observe, see, listen, smell, feel and relate vocabulary directly to its meaning in English.

Do NOT think of the word for it in your native language.

Do activities that you would usually do in your native tongue in English instead! If you read a book or News article, do it in English. Change your phone settings to English. If you listen to the radio, do it in English. If you watch a video, movie or series, do it in English.If you spend a lot of time with English, you'll start thinking in English. Your brain is so amazing that it will begin to recognise patterns and want to follow them too!

Don't use a bilingual dictionary.

Use a monolingual dictionary to look up the meaning of words in English.

Surround yourself with English in your home and office.

Think in words.

Label the items around you. You can do this in your mind or actually on pieces of paper taped to the objects. Start with everyday objects. Every time you look at them you will be reminded to think that word!

Look around you when you commute. In your head, try to name each object you see in English. If you do this many times in different situations, you'll eventually start to think of objects by their English names.

Think in sentences.

The next step is to practice thinking in simple English sentences. For example, if you're sitting in a park, you can tell yourself, "It's such a beautiful day" and "People are playing sports with their friends." Once this becomes easy, you can try more difficult sentences.

Talk to yourself in English. Ask yourself questions and answer them. (Preferably when there is no-one else around) Make up a story about a person you see on your way to the supermarket. Think of a memory or a story that you would like to tell an English speaking friend. Then “tell the story” in your head in English.

Try planning or guessing what English speakers are going to say. When you predict the conversation based on previous experience, you’ll be more confident and ready to respond. Imagine the conversations that you want to have in the future. It may not go word-for-word how you plan it, but you will feel more prepared and more confident. You could write the conversation down and practice it a few times with different possible responses.

Make it a habit to think in English every day.

Start small. Even the smallest effort is better than nothing. It does not matter what you think about. Set an alarm if it’s hard to remember to switch into English. Try to increase your English Thinking Time by a few minutes every day/week.


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