How to start thinking in your TL?

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
User avatar
Brown Belt
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Languages: Monolingual travels in Danish, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Romanian,
Ahem, not yet: Esperanto, Norwegian, Afrikaans, Platt, Scots, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Indonesian ...
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
x 2069

Re: How to start thinking in your TL?

Postby Iversen » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:22 am

Iversen wrote:Or in other words: just think "bob-bop" if you simply can't recall a certain word.

Tomás wrote:If I did that it would be like Dizzy Gillespie had taken over my brain.

I think the expression "bop-bop" entered my brain while I studied French in the 70s, and it is quite practical not to have to invent a new "hole-filler" each time I run into a problem while thinking. If "bob bop" makes you think about Dizzie Gillespie then you may have to find another term to do the job - unless you actually like jazz.
2 x

Orange Belt
Posts: 238
Joined: Sun May 22, 2016 3:01 am
Languages: Native: English.
Advanced: Spanish.
Intermediate: French.
x 444

Re: How to start thinking in your TL?

Postby Finny » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:09 am

windslav wrote:You'll start doing it naturally once you know the language. There's no need to force anything, just keep studying.

Indeed. I'd only estimate myself as B1 speaking in French, but I think in the language when speaking it to my kids. However, I'd also estimate my aural and reading comprehension as C1, which I think is essential, as I'm not burning lots of energy trying to understand every other word in the language, which frees up mental energy for producing output.
1 x

Green Belt
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:21 pm
Location: Estados Unidos (near the Mexican border)
Languages: English (N)
Spanish (advanced)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2513
x 330

Re: How to start thinking in your TL?

Postby NoManches » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:13 pm

I can make a few observations on this:

For the most part, I have to force myself to think in my target language. That is, I have to make a conscious effort to construct sentences in my head, ask myself questions in my TL, and summarize things in my TL. (Others have pointed out that we don't really "think" in any language, but I think this question refers to the process of mentally talking to ourselves in a particular language).

There are exceptions to what I just wrote:

1. I find that even after a short amount of time reading in my TL (10-15 uninterrupted minutes) , I start to think in my TL until I start using English again (English is my native language). I have spent hours watching television in Spanish but for some reason, reading always does the trick while television doesn't automatically "switch my brain over to Spanish". I think the reason for this is because when we read, we are coming across many, many, more words per minute than we ever would while watching television. Also, TV can be distracting and we may be watching something but our brains may be elsewhere.

2. If I am actively conversing with somebody in my TL, I start thinking in my TL without any second thoughts. The longer I am interacting with them, the more automatic it becomes. After an hour long chat with a friend, I find myself thinking in Spanish long after we have parted ways. If I exchange a few words with somebody in Spanish, that usually isn't enough to get me to start thinking in my TL.

And finally, if I spend time in Mexico or another Spanish speaking country, I find myself thinking in Spanish (my TL) almost exclusively. This seems obvious, but whenever I'm in Mexico I go out of my way to avoid English and only use Spanish.

So a summary of what I just wrote would go like this: the longer I use my TL on a particular occasion, the easier and more automatic it is for me to think in that language. If I'm not in an environment or situation that requires me to use my TL, I have to constantly remind myself to "think" in Spanish or it doesn't happen that often.

I want to point something out again: Reading has been incredibly helpful to me as a warm up exercise and a way of immersing myself in my TL. When I had a tutor, I spoke so much better on the days I was able to read for a few minutes before practicing compared tot he days I just jumped into conversation. Give it a try and I think it will help you think in your TL with less effort.
2 x
Super Challenge:
: 3000 / 5000 Spanish books
: 4875 / 9000 Spanish films

Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest