ESL students would like to speak English like they do in their native language in an easy way, but they still struggle trying to think in English, they get frustrated, because they are always translating from their native language into English, and when they try to speak, they can’t think completely in this second language; but I got good news, I’m going to explain to you how you can learn to think in English.
Create a bubble
If you don’t live in an English speaking society you have to create your own bubble or environment where you listen, watch and speak English every day, that’s why you need to do everything in English.
I would say that at the beginning it isn’t easy, but it becomes a habit if you persist and don’t give up.
If you usually listen to the radio, get an app and listening on your Smartphone or other device.
Do you like to read the news? Read some digital newspapers.
Do you enjoy watching American TV Shows? Watch them in English and without subtitles.
The more spend time learning English, the more it’ll become familiar for you and thinking in English won’t be complicated.
How to stop thinking in your native language
First things first, to think in English is a decision that you can make, it’s not about confidence, it’s about motivation. I’d say that it’s easier than speaking, because if you make a mistake you won’t feel embarrassed, but it requires a lot of motivation, because there’s no one there pushing you to speak and think in English.
To start this journey, you gotta have a good foundation of basic grammar in order that you can build your own sentences, and if you already created your own bubble, the process will be faster because you’ll be learning every day.
In early stages, it’s quite common to use more your native language; you’ll probably be translating instead of thinking fluently. But the point is to use English in your thoughts, not only on your conversations.
In order to exercise your mind thinking in English, I advise you to keep a journal, maybe you can use your Smartphone or a notebook; I suggest first, to start thinking how to describe daily activities in English, if there is a word or topic difficult for you, write it down and study it, you’re going to learn more vocabulary and next time you try to think in the same topic, it’ll be easier and you can move on thinking in another topic. This helps you to organize your thoughts.
Another suggestion would be to prepare some questions and phrases next time you talk to an English speaker, so when you got the opportunity to practice it won’t be hard to keep a conversation going.
Follow through, don’t forget your goal
If you make an extra effort to think everything you can in English every day, you’ll be surprised with the results, instead of thinking “eu quero”(Portuguese), “yo quiero” (Spanish)or “我想”(Mandarin Chinese) you’ll automatically say to yourself “I want”, and you won’t even know where it came from, because you won’t be using your native language.
I think the biggest challenge is to overcome the feeling of frustration, because at the beginning you won’t be able to think in English fully, don’t worry that’s OK, after a while, when you’ve learned more about your target language, it’ll be easier and one day you’ll wake up thinking totally in English, and you’ll be amazed.
Every time you make an effort to think in English it is an active exercise to prepare you for a real conversation, and the thoughts start to flow faster every time.
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