Thinking in a Foreign Language: How to Do It and Why

Thinking in a foreign language

Thinking in a foreign language is an important step in the long road that is fluency in a foreign language, but it’s a step that, for some reason, many language learners tend to ignore. Thinking in the language you are learning is not necessarily easy, but it’s something you can practice at any time of the day. Chances are you will NOT wake up one day thinking in a foreign language just because you’ve been learning it for X amount of months/years. Well, it can happen eventually, but I’d like to suggest an alternative that is a bit more, shall we say, efficient, and that will both jump-start your vocabulary acquisition and your fluency. What I’m proposing is that thinking in a new language is a decision you can make, and that you should make from Day 1.

Why Would I Do It?

You might be wondering why anyone would go through the discomfort of trying to think in a foreign language, especially during the early stages or learning. Well, for starters, thinking in the language you’re trying to learn is one of the easiest ways to review the vocabulary and grammatical patterns you’ve recently acquired. Plus, by actually forcing your brain to think in a language it is not used to think in, you’ll also help activate the newly-acquired information by giving you a real-life use for it. This, in turn, will speed-up the passive-to-active vocabulary transition. In a nutshell, passive vocabulary includes the words stored in verbal memory that people partially “understand,” but not well enough for active use. So you might know the word for “vocabulary” in Spanish (vocabulario), for example, but you might not be able to plug it in a sentence of your own yet if you’re a beginner. Your active vocabulary, on the other hand, includes the words that you can readily use when speaking and writing.

Another great reason to practice thinking in a foreign language is that, according to a study conducted by University of Chicago psychologists on how language affects reasoning, you will make decisions that will tend to be less biased, more analytic, and more systematic. Why is that? “Because,” according to the study’s lead author Boaz Keysar, “a foreign language provides psychological distance.” So by thinking in a foreign language you will not only be jump-starting your skills in that language, but you’ll also make smarter decisions. Talk about a no-brainer!

How Do I Do It?

So how can you actually start thinking in a foreign language? Is it something that will magically happen after having gone through your 10cm thick textbook? Chances are that won’t happen, unless you make a conscious effort to make it happen. So here are a few tips that I’d like you to try to implement in your daily life.

Language bubbles#1: The first thing that’s really important to do is to create a language bubble around yourself, especially if you’ve reached an intermediate level or anything above that in your target language (but really, the sooner the better). I’ll go a bit more in detail into this in the “Making the Language a Part of Your Life” section just down below, so don’t stop reading just yet!

#2: The second step is to start making a conscious effort to describe things around you in your target language. One easy way to start when you have a very limited vocabulary is to just look around your room, your neighborhood, and your workplace/school and mentally label whatever you can. If you know colors, scan whatever is around you and think the word for the color of each item you see. If you have recently been learning about furniture, adjectives, or moods, try the same thing with those. Whatever vocabulary and grammatical patterns you are currently learning at the moment, make a conscious effort to think in your target language using those newly-acquired tools. See it as a game, something to enjoy doing.

As you begin to increase your vocabulary little by little, start gradually increasing the complexity of your thoughts by making phrases and by describing what’s going on around you. Don’t jump steps and try expressing complex thoughts that are in sharp contrast with your current level, though. For example, don’t try to say “I wish I would’ve been there” if you are still a beginner in your target language, because the grammar involved is too complex. Instead, simplify what you want to say. You could say something like “I want to go there,” or “I wanted to go there but I couldn’t.” Don’t worry, in due time you’ll reach a point where you’ll be able to say more complex things, there is no rush!

#3: If you are a bit more advanced in your target language, as you go about your day try to think through some typical conversations you would normally have in your native tongue. As you’re leaving your apartment, your neighbor greets you. What would they have said and how would you have replied in your target language? On the way to work, you stop to buy a cup of coffee. How would you order that in your target language? If there are some common words and expressions that you find yourself unable to express, especially on repeated occasions, write them in a small notebook or in your smartphone, and in the evening find the translations. That’s an extremely useful way to quickly gain useful vocabulary that you know you are likely to use in everyday situations.

#4: The last tip here is to speak to yourself or to a camera. If you are ready to put aside your shame, and especially if you don’t have roommates or family members nearby to eavesdrop on you (!), it’s also quite useful to talk to yourself. Aside from being useful in organizing your thoughts, it also allows you to practice pronunciation. If you don’t like the idea of talking to yourself, why not make videos of yourself talking to track your progress? You can organize your videos around themes. For example, in one you might try to talk about the weather, and in another one you might tell your real or fictitious listeners how you began the study of your target language, or which methods you’re using at the moment. Countless language learners and seasoned polyglots do exactly that and regularly post their videos on YouTube. If you do the same, you’ll kill two birds with one stone and be able to connect with other members of the language learning community.

Making the Language a Part of Your LifeBengali computer keyboard

In short, if you want to start thinking in the target language you’re learning, you have to get out of your comfort zone and make the foreign language a part of your life. Don’t be afraid, I promise nothing bad will come out of it! It’s something we all hesitate to do because we are all afraid of the unknown, and we are all afraid of having a feeling of discomfort. Staying in your language bubble and in your comfort zone are easy options, but they are unfortunately not what will bring the best results in terms of foreign language fluency development.

Many people—in fact most people, it seems—approach language learning in a very, how should I put it, “confined” manner. What I mean by this is that they see language learning as something to be “studied” or “learned” during a certain period of time during the day/week, and then everything else they do is somehow totally unrelated to the language they are learning. I often ask my students what they do outside of class to improve their language skills. Nine cases out of ten, they either do nothing or study a bit through their textbook. They basically pat themselves on the back for paying for language lessons, and as soon as the lesson is over they somehow turn a switch in their brain which means they can totally forget about the language they are learning. Many students later wonder why they aren’t somewhat fluent after studying the language for years upon years.

I’ve thought about it and I think that the reason why many people recommend to go abroad to learn a foreign language is that it kind of forces yourself to step outside of your native tongue bubble (although many expats still manage the amazing feat of staying inside their native tongue bubble for years, despite living in a country that speaks an entirely different language). If you go to Spain, for example, you’ll be forced to hear Spanish on the streets, to read signs in Spanish, and perhaps even to listen to Spanish TV and, who could’ve imagined, meet Spanish people who speak Spanish.

But that is still not enough. And, frankly speaking, one doesn’t have to go abroad to immerse oneself in a foreign language (Benny the Irish Polyglot learned Arabic in the middle of Brazil, making use of great websites such as italki to get speaking practice online). “Okay,” you say, “so how can I do it?” Well, here’s a second list of tips that I encourage you to implement in earnest:

#1: Start reading the news and/or blogs in your target language. To get into the habit of doing so, make your homepage (when your browser starts) a page that is in the foreign languageFacebook in Spanish you are learning. For example, every time I open Firefox, I get to see the news in Korean. I just can’t avoid it. I also try to avoid watching the news in English. Or what about Facebook? YouTube? Movie players? These are all websites or programs that have a changeable language option.

#2: If your phone has a “language” option, change the language of your phone to the language you are learning. At first it will be really uncomfortable, but the necessity to understand your phone’s function will soon be strong enough so that you’ll have no choice but to remember a whole lot of new words and become proficient in using your cell phone in a foreign language. I’ve recently switched my phone to Korean and frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.

#3: Watch movies in the target language. When you watch movies in your own language, try to watch them with subtitles in your target language. For example, if you are learning Spanish but decide to watch an American movie, either try to find the same movie dubbed in Spanish, or get the subtitles for it in Spanish. As you listen to the movie, you’ll be reading the entire time in Spanish. This will also tremendously help to increase your reading speed.

#4: The next time you need to install Windows on your computer, ask somebody who speaks your target language to download the version in their language. Just as with a cell phone, it will be really uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it eventually. The same can be done whenever you download programs such as movie players, etc. If you’re still a beginner, that’s not necessarily recommended, but for intermediate learners and higher, it’s worth giving it a try.

#5: Watch YouTube videos in your target language. We all have the urge to do something completely unrelated to the task we have at hand. This is called procrastination. Kill two birds with one stone by procrastinating in your target language. You’ll be watching stupid videos, but at least they’ll be in a foreign language. Watching stupid stuff in a foreign language is cool.

#6: Listen to music in a foreign language. Not only you will discover new, awesome music, but you’ll be getting used to the language’s flow, intonation, and rhythm. If you feel like it, get the lyrics and sing along your favorite songs. By the way, I’ve recently written a guest post about Korean music on Susanna Zaraysky’s blog. If you’d like to discover new music, check it out here!

Korea Indie Music

#7: Meet friends who speak your target language. Visit a website such as meetup.com or Couchsurfing, join a local club, volunteer, make a language exchange partner online. Whatever you do, remember you have dozens of ways to get to speak in your target language. No excuses.

Couchsurfing Logo

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What do you think? Have you ever tried to force yourself to think in a foreign language? How much are you willing to get out of your comfort zone? What steps are you actively taking to make the language you are learning a part of your life?

By implementing only a few of the many tips I’ve given you today, I am confident that you will see, within a short period of time, a dramatic change in your fluency and in your ability to think in your target language. See it as a game, and as a way of pushing yourself and making language learning more than something that needs to be “studied”. Remember, it’s all about having fun and challenging yourself!

By Lingholic

  • www.lingholic.com is all about the art of learning languages. Learn how to learn and dramatically improve your foreign language acquisition ability.

  • Show Comments (61)

  • Thinking in a target language from the very beginning can be indeed challenging. Now I’m trying to implement this technique into my learning routine. But you know, it’s kind of hard :p i totally agree with your piece of advice about making vidoes. I tested it and I made several videos of me speaking Norwegian and my impression is that this method helped me to grasp new vocabulary. And it’s great to upload such films to youtube so that other people can assess you level 🙂

    • Awesome! Yes I’m actually planning on making YouTube videos very soon in the future, I think it’s great practice and it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the language learning community.

      I know it’s not easy to think in your target language, but it’s something that can be practiced and that gets easier over time. Let me know after a few days/weeks how things are going!

      • Great 🙂 what will be your videos about?
        Sure, I’ll let you know how I’m going about thinking in Norwegian 🙂

    • Red/
  • Nicolás López Zerpa

    Excellent tips, Sam!

    I generally don’t think in a foreign language, but something that I do very often is translating in my mind the things that I hear or read. e.g.: “Pensare in una lingua straniera è un passo importante nel lungo cammino…”. As you can see, I’m learning Italian 😛

    Greetings from Argentina

    • Thanks Nicolas!

      Well I guess if you practice translating in your mind, you do get to think in your target language. Next time, try directly putting your thoughts in Italian and see how it goes!

      Nice to see you’re from Argentina. Your English looks totally fluent! How’s Italian coming along? I’ve heard it’s very similar to Spanish, have you found it rather easy to pick up?

      • Nicolás López Zerpa

        Thanks for the compliment, Sam! Italian is quite similar to Spanish and it is of a great help. However, there are some difficulties too. For example, prepositions and particles like “ne” (with no equivalent in Spanish or English) or “ci” (pronounced “chee”, it has a lot of different meanings). I’ve learning Italian since January; although I’m not fluent yet, I am very satisfied with my progress so far.

    • Char Char Binks

      I’m trying to learn Spanish, and it seems I’m accidentally learning Italian, too!

  • Jan

    Great article! I’ve been reading English blogs on what interests me for quite a long time and I can really see the results. I’m surprised when I sometimes unintentionally start thinking in English. 🙂

    Now I’m going to use also your other tips.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jan! Yes I think reading blogs in the target language can really be of huge help. I’m passionate about travel, so I combine that passion with languages by reading world travelers’ blogs in other languages and it’s great.

      By the way, what’s your mother tongue? Your English is flawless!

      • Jan

        Thank you, I’m Czech.

  • Love the articles, lots of great advice. I’ve been living in Taiwan for the past 2.5 years and learning Chinese. Progress is slow but I’m getting there. How long have you been in Korea?

    • Hi Scott!

      I’ve been living in Korea since late June 2012. I’d love to visit Taiwan one day, I studied the country’s history and it’s really fascinating. Have you traveled a bit around the island?

      • Yeah I have traveled around the island quite a bit. Unfortunately I still haven’t seen everything as I like to get away to other parts of Asia whenever I get a week or more of holiday.

        The East coast here is beautiful!

  • cherhale

    Thanks so much for the super comprehensive article. You inspired me to change my Facebook back to Italian as I had recently changed it to English to make a Facebook page. In terms of your q’s that you asked, I definitely have conversations with myself on a daily basis in Italian and am always imagining what I would say to the clerk at the grocery store or the girl sitting next to me in class if I was back in Italy.

    Question though, even when you make your browsers and such in your target language, it’s so easy to just ignore all of it because you don’t understand it on sight. Have you found any ways to encourage yourself to try to read it even though you don’t understand it right away?

    • Hello again cherhale!

      Thanks for your kind comment. Glad you switched back to Italian on Facebook,

      Concerning your question, I understand what you mean. Usually when you’ve been using a certain program for so long in your native tongue, you’re simply used to click on certain button and you don’t even need to read what you’re clicking on, so switching to another language can at times seem like it’s almost making no difference. Alternatively, there may be too many words that you don’t understand and that you simply end up ignoring.

      However, I believe that even if you don’t pay attention or try to read anything in the new language, you will nevertheless subconsciously assimilate a lot of new words through sheer repetition. Even if there’s a word you don’t understand at all, by continuously seeing it here and then, even if just a few seconds, it will eventually stick in your memory, and if you ever hear it in a conversation or see it somewhere else, you’ll automatically make the connection.

      I would also strongly recommend an add-on for Firefox called “Wiktionary and Google Translate” (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/google-dictionary-and-google-t/). This is an awesome add-on that lets you click on any word or hover over any highlighted text and shows a small pop-up window with the translation and definition in English. I’ll probably make a YouTube video or a post about this neat add-on in the future.

      • cherhale

        Thanks so much Sam! I downloaded the Wiktionary app on Chrome + the two google translate extensions. Thanks for the tip!

  • Phillyxo

    Hello, I just began studying arabic about two weeks ago, it takes me a few seconds to read a word and put the appropriate pronunciation together before i know what I’m reading. Is this stage way to early to change your phone/facebook to strictly arabic? i feel like i should get to a point where i can read pretty well before i change it.

    • Hi Phillyxo,

      You are right, if you are still having trouble reading the script and you have only been learning the language for 2 weeks, it would not make sense to switch your FB to Arabic. I would suggest you get comfortable reading the script and that you reach a high-beginner (A2) or low-intermediate (B1) level before making these kinds of changes.

      Cheers!

  • I started learning Arabic this year, and can read a little, but I’m avoiding the written language until I speak a little more, as otherwise I just read in a bad pronunciation. I am trying to use it more, so will try some of these tips. I sometimes watch kids’ cartoons in Arabic.

    http://thetigerssterne.blogspot.co.uk

  • Margaret Nahmias

    Stop translating in your head. This that is one of the roadblocks to spontaneity.

    • True!

    • Hyun Kyung Son

      I am totally agree in ut opinion!
      While translating i can get what it means but hard to get frame rules of what only natives know

    • Biggie Wumps

      i can never do that. it’s too hard not to and i dont know how else you would learn the information without your first language

  • Alex Roe

    The tips you give on training yourself to think directly in another language are the same as I give my English language students and I used the same method to train myself to think in Italian. It works! Well, it did for me.

    Cheers,

    Alex

    • That’s great Alex! Are you teaching English in Italy? Happy to see that this technique worked with you, and hopefully with your students too!

      • Alex Roe

        Yes, I teach English in Italy. The technique does work though it encounters a lot of psychological resistance simply because few think it’s possible to think in another language. The students who do give it a try tend to see improvements in fluency and spontaneity – they can react faster because they are not translating every single word.

        It is, of course, rather hard to see if students are thinking in English – am working on my telepathy! 😉

  • VCB

    So I have some problems thinking in my L2, even after doing it for several months. I was hoping you would be able to give me some sort of guidance.

    The first problem is a difficulty recalling the things I have learned in my L1 while thinking in my L2. The parallel problem occurs when I learn things in my L2 and try to recall them in my L1. Since I have to read and write exams and papers and attend lectures, it’s sort of a big deal. At first I thought it was a matter of not having the adequate vocabulary in one of the languages, but that has turned out to be completely wrong. Now I just don’t know what it is.

    The second is a lack of spontaneous, associative thought. Now, I’ve got lots of that going on when thinking in my L1; images and huge ass conceptual leaps happen pretty much constantly, and I’ve got no problem being creative and imagining stuff and improvising and stuff. That just doesn’t happen in my L2 thinking. It’s like going from conceptual parkour to not being able to get from step A to step C on the thought-stairs without stopping at B first. It kinda sucks, actually.

    Any suggestions?

    • Hi VCB. I would need more details in order to understand the nature of your problem. What language(s) are you learning? What is your native tongue? Do you learn your L2 through your native tongue (L1), or do you immerse yourself in the L2 and use things such as unilingual dictionaries?

      From what you’re saying, I have a feeling that you’re trying to do a lot of translation in your head, am I right? Do you often use your L2 actively, or do you use it for passive purposes (i.e. listening and reading)?

      • VCB

        Hi,
        First I’d like to point out that I’m not really
        sure my worry concerns language learning proper, though I am sure it’s related. Now, to answer your questions:

        i. I’m learning English, I guess. But my primary problem isn’t really that I have
        a hard time with my English; It’s a problem recalling things I’ve learnt in my native language whilst in thinking-in-English-mode, and a problem recalling things I’ve learnt in English whilst in thinking-in-L1-mode. So if I read a paper in English, I have a hard time discussing it in detail in my L1, and if I attend a lecture on, say, proof theory in my L1, I have a hard time recalling the relevant material when I have to validate a proof I encounter in a L2 monograph on the subject.

        ii. A Scandinavian language.

        iii. I use English-English dictionaries when I have to look something up. I attend
        college in my L1 but try to do everything else in English, so I’m immersed to a
        certain extent. We read the same monographs and research papers that Anglophones do, but all seminars and papers and exams and so on have to be
        done in my L1. This is where the problem becomes problematic.

        iv. Last time I translated something in my head was when I had to translate a 17th century philosophy text into something resembling coherent English, but that was English-English translation. (No, I don’t translate between my L1 and English.)

        • Hi again VCB,

          From your description of things, I see your problem as perfectly normal. And I must say your English is flawless, so I really do not see a problem there.

          You have to remember that it’s absolutely normal, when you reach a high level in L2 and you start learning more technical vocabulary, not to know how to translate it back into L1. This happens to me all the time. This is why some people spend years learning translation as a professional career, simply because it’s really not an easy thing to do. You may very well know two languages perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to effortlessly translate sentences and concepts between the two.

          The problem seems to be that you read monographs and papers in English, whereas your seminars and assignments are in L1. This naturally complicates matters. I think there is no easy solution here. The easiest thing would be of course to write the assignments in English. That would be much simpler. But if that can’t do, you might want to look to see whether you can find any translations of the material assigned in your L1 (rather than in English). I personally would have a very hard time, for example, reading books and papers on a particular topic in English, and then have to write an assignment about this very topic but in a different language, even if my mother tongue.

          I hope this helps! In any case, I don’t think you have anything to worry about because what you are experiencing is totally normal. It’s the same for me.

  • Salah

    Great tips, but watching movies with subtitles is far away to be a good tip. I have been watch English movies with Arabic subtitle for years, but I never learned a single word except yes and no..haha. With subtitles you’ll find it easier to read your native language than listening to a foreign language.

    • Salah, I believe you did not understand the tip given in this article regarding to watching movies. I recommended people to watch movies, first of all, in the language they are learning. However, when watching a movie in their native tongue, they can do so by putting the subtitles of the language they are learning.

      For example, if you were a native English speaker and wanted to learn French, even while watching a movie in English you could still watch it with subtitles in French, thus getting automatic translations.

      • SueW15

        The idea in your last paragraph is a great idea, lingholic! One could then reverse it again if watching for a third/fourth time, depending how interesting the storyline. Thank you for all the tips here.

  • Unicorn

    English is not my mother language,But I started learning when I was a kid,since then I’ve read lots and lots of books,articles and blogs in English.
    Now,It’s been like 2 or 3 years that I think in English,I never forced myself to do it,somehow my brain does it unintentionally,And now I hardly think in my own Language!!!which I think is really weird ,But I’m completely fine with it. 😉
    Well at first I thought It was sooo odd,but after searching on the internet,I found out that I’m not alone,and it is somehow common in people who learn another language.
    I also write better in English,for example I can express feeling and emotions much better in English than in my own language!! 😉

    • Hannah

      me tooooooooooooooooo 🙂

    • Adelia Aryani Putri

      I thought it was just me. With the feeling and emotions, it felt so weird to write it down with my own language. Either I just got embarrassed or come to strong while expressing it, now i just avoid it altogether.

    • வீர வன்னியர்

      u guys are lucky since english is an international language,I bet u have all the resources u need to learn english unlike english native speakers who try to master foreign lang.

      • Learning English might be made somewhat easier given the sheer number of resources available, but I think these days with information technology, resources can be very easily found for most mainstream foreign languages, which is great! In the end though, learning a language is hard work, and it takes a lot of persistence!

    • வீர வன்னியர்

      try putting the same effort to learn other languages like spanish or german,I bet u will have a hard time learning those languages since they are not international languages.

    • Cery

      Me too! I’ve been learning english for about 6 years now (my grammar is still aweful though), but thinking, writing and generally doing stuff in english is so helpful and sometimes amusing. I started thinking in english years ago (I was just curious), and now I’m able to switch languages in my head, like one moment I’m german then -woop- english.

      • That’s great to hear, Cery. Doing activities in your target language (which you would otherwise normally do in your native language) is a fantastic way to approach foreign language acquisition. Even with social media, blogs, and news, it’s become easier than ever to access a wide range of interesting resources in a variety of languages.

  • Hi Sam

    Thinking is a great way to practice a language. It’s low cost, you can do anywhere, and is great if you are really busy. Also, as you have written, it’s a great way to identify areas of future study. For those of us who don’t live in the country where our target language is spoken, we do need to find ways to practice. Thanks for all the tips – I will definitely try them out.

    Carol

  • Nicole

    Uf! this is a topic that is very difficult to me, I am learning English since a years ago, but I’ve been translating all spanish to english, and it doesn’t work. I’ve just change the language of my mobile phone, and now, I am going to think all the things that are in my bedroom, I hope it will be useful, thank you

    • Hi Nicole. I’m very happy to hear the tips in this article were of some use to you. I’m curious to know whether you have found any of the advice to have worked for you. How is your English coming along? Let me know if you have any questions!

      Thanks,

      Sam

  • Wild Rayman

    this is a nice tips. I was thinking how to learn english like native speaker . I have visited so many site, no one could provide perfect solution. final from http://preply.com/en/skype/english-native-speakers. few person gave same answer . Just thinking with english language. try to think in English. i must say it helping me

  • William Cezar

    Hey there! Nice article, it was really helpful.I’m a native portuguese speaker and i have been learning/studying english for several years, i think i have a good level of listening and reading, i can understand almost everything that i listen to,but, i have a big problem when i have to write something or to talk to someone, i don’t know why, since i read a lot and i can watch full movies in english or listen to the news in english without a problem, i even learned spanish using english material.Anyway,i would like to know if you have some tips for me, to improve my writing skills and my speaking skills.

    Thanks!

    • Hi William. Well, I must say your writing skills appear very good to me. In fact, apart from some missing capital letters, I saw very few mistakes in your comment. In terms of speaking, I think the obvious answer to your question is that you need to speak to develop your speaking skills. A skill is something that has to be practiced. Just as you wouldn’t get better at playing the guitar by reading books about guitar solos and chords, the same applies to speaking a foreign language (sort of). In any case, I would encourage you to get some private tutor or simply hang out with and English speaking crowd and practice as much as you can. Don’t overthink it, though. Just try to speak freely and if there are certain words that you don’t know or otherwise other things bogging you down, just find a way around it! Good luck, and let me know how you are progressing.

  • Merry Barrios

    When I started university I started practicing more English than ever on my own. After a while I even dreamt in English. People told me I was speaking in English at night. Now the same is happenning with German and my English is getting worse =D

    • Yes, the trick is to maintain multiple languages at once 🙂 Try to maintain your English by regularly reading the news and otherwise doing other activities in the language in addition to German. Hopefully you’ll be able to practice both regularly!

  • Hyun Kyung Son

    Nothing i can say anymore about learning fresh new languages as one of polyglots!
    I ve been learning five languages since three years, accepting those tips in my normal life, and i realized that’s it, that’s all i have to do while trying to get Target languages.

    • That’s great! Which languages have you learned over the past 3 years? Glad if the tips in the article will have been useful in any way 🙂

  • Razgūnaitė Teodora

    Hi, I found this very fun and useful. 🙂 I have noticed that when I was little and I was teaching myself Spanish, I used to do the same things. I thought they there weird but logically those tips and things do help. This is a bit out of the topic, but I wonder, why do people who study or live abroad and use the foreign language in every day use forget or get a weird accent on their own native language? Is it something you can forget during the years even though it is the first and native language of yours?

  • The Italian Edition

    This is exactly how I learned Italian. Excellent tips Sam!

    • Great to hear! Thanks for the kind words.

  • reza

    hello there

  • lauren levan

    i thinks its the more natural way to learn a language without translators.

    • How can someone learn a language with translators? Or do you mean translating software?

  • amy

    I am learning Italian and am in Italy… i’ll admit I haven’t done many of those things but I find understanding Italian really hard. My speaking level is ok and I can understand if someone asks a question slowly to me but don’t understand people’s conversations and even the teacher who talks slowly.

    • Hi Amy,

      Understanding a foreign language, especially when to comes to natives speaking among themselves, is a long and gradual process. The important thing is not to get discouraged and focus on your daily progress rather than on what’s left ahead of you. But making a conscious effort to think in Italian might certainly help. I’d recommend you to try it out!

  • Miguel

    Translation is good when it comes to get just the simple meaning of the words, however, when it comes to contexts and understanding the structures of linguistics of a language is different. It requires not only assimilating the rules but also learning how to use it in terms of TAM ( tense, aspect, and modality). For instance, I’m a portuguese native speaker, and I have also contacted with English since I was in 4th grade. I dedicated all my life, sometimes unconsciously, learning english through movies, cartoons,tv shows, among others types of media. After this, I had a disrupt period in mastering the language due to my inability of putting english in contexts. Also, understanding particularities of the language was difficult such as notions of talking ” in a subjunctive way”, I mean making references of desires,suggestions, and so on, besides meaning and grammar. Now, I am quite comfortable expressing myself into it as I improved my deepness of the knowledge of the language.

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