How to train your brain to think in English?

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If you’re learning English, an essential skill is to start thinking in the language. This approach will bring you much closer to speaking English fluently and using it as proficiently as a native speaker. However, switching the language of your thoughts is more challenging than it sounds. This challenge becomes particularly tough if you live in a region where English isn’t the primary language.

Therefore, we’ve prepared a few practical tips for you on how to start thinking in English.

Tip №1: Start with individual words

Initially, try to think in individual words, building associations. It’s important to understand that instantly switching your thoughts to another language is challenging, as it often happens subconsciously. However, you can train this skill through association.

Look around you and think about what you see. Take, for example, a refrigerator. Try to name objects in your surroundings this way every time you find yourself in a new place. Gradually, you’ll learn all the names of objects and phenomena that surround you in familiar places: at home, on your way to work, and in the office.

Start with nouns, then progressively add verbs, adjectives, pronouns, conjunctions, and so on.

Tip №2: Describe unknown words

In the beginning, you won’t be able to name every object or phenomenon in your surroundings. But resist the urge to immediately look them up in a translator or dictionary. Instead, try to expand your vocabulary by describing unknown items. For instance, if you don’t know the word for “streetlight,” try to describe it in your mind as a vertical structure with a light on top that illuminates a certain area of the road at night.

Frequently use phrases like “This is similar to…” or “This is nothing like…”. This practice helps you build logical connections and find associations, thus expanding your vocabulary.

Tip №3: Gradually shift to full sentences

It may take you anywhere from one week to a month to transition from thinking in single words or short phrases to full sentences. You’ll be able to do this once your vocabulary is sufficiently robust and you’re well-acquainted with your surroundings.

For instance, describe how people stroll through the park you pass on your way to work. Or how the sun heats the asphalt and the environment around you. The most important thing is not to fear initially making stylistic or grammatical errors. Don’t try to adhere strictly to all rules and tenses, like Past Perfect Continuous or the like. Otherwise, you’ll expend too much energy on this and ultimately slow down your progress. Native speakers often make mistakes, and it’s acceptable as long as you’re not in an exam situation.

Tip №4: Start having mental conversations with yourself

The final step in learning to think in English involves creating dialogues with yourself. You can do this mentally or out loud when you’re alone. Try asking yourself simple questions about the weather, news, or daily chores, and respond in complete sentences. Concurrently, you can continue to expand your vocabulary using other language learning tools. This could include watching TV shows, reading literature, viewing YouTube lessons, or engaging with a tutor.

Before you know it, thinking in English will become second nature to you. After all, that’s the goal we’re striving for.

Remember, you need to practice this daily. Otherwise, you won’t develop a habit, and you might eventually give up on this exercise.


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