Thinking directly in English requires active practice which means using English and
not just listening to it. With that in mind, were going to do an interactive exercise
while I explain how to stop translating in your head.
The way it works is that occasionally I am going to ask you to repeat a sentence that
I say OUT LOUD word for word. Dont worry if you cant remember it all on the first
try. I will give you a few opportunities.
Anytime you see this icon on the screen it means it is a workout sentence that you need
to repeat out loud, so pay close attention!
Here we go!
If you ask me how to think directly in English, my answer is: focus on internalizing structures,
not memorizing words.
When you only memorize words, your brain is forced to make up the sentence structures on its
own at the same time as translating, thinking about what you want to say, and making sure
you pronounce things correctly.
This is how you end up with sentences like "I do mistakes" instead of "I make mistakes"
or "For the years I feel the first time I can improve" instead of "For the first time
in years I feel like I can improve".
Think of it like making a pizza. What would be easier? Buying a frozen pizza and putting
it in the oven or having to buy flour, salt, oil, make the dough from scratch, then buy
tomatoes and make the sauce from scratch, so on and so forth.
It's the same way with English.
If you internalized a structure, you would be able to use it directly without having
to translate individual words.
Now you might be thinking, "Ok, cool. So how do I internalize structures?". My advice is
to start by trying to repeat sentences out loud after you hear a native speaker say them
in a video or a podcast.
If you find one that you understand but have a hard time remembering, that's the sweet spot.
When you can't repeat a sentence that somebody just said it's likely because there's something
you haven't internalized yet. It could be new words, a structure that don't make sense,
or some annoying prepositions.
When this happens, resist the urge to grab your grammar textbook. The goal isn't to know
"why" a structure is the way it is, the goal is to be able to use it. Once you internalize
the structure, you'll start to notice it in more places, make connections, and
discover the "why" on your own.
This is important because you're far more likely to remember things that you discovered on
your own, than things you look up in a textbook.
With that in mind, the next step after you find a tricky structure is to take it
for a "test drive" by trying it with different verb tenses, subjects, or quantities.
How would you change the sentence "For the first time in years, I feel like I can improve."
if you were talking about an event in the past?
"For the first time in years, I felt like I could improve."
What if we were talking about months instead of years?
"For the first time in months, I felt like I could improve."
What if it was a group of people who felt this way?
"For the first time in months, they felt like they could improve."
What if you wanted to change the thing you feel like to "relax" instead of improve?
"For the first time in months, they felt like they could relax."
You can also try to rearrange the order to see if it makes sense.
"They felt like they could relax for the first time in months."
You can always ask a native speaker for feedback through an app like HelloTalk or HiNative
if you're unsure.
If you play with structures like this, you'll start to internalize them and no longer need
After all, the next time you want to express that you feel a certain way for the first
time in a long time, you can simply throw this frozen pizza into the oven.
Once youve taken a structure for a test drive be sure to add it to your collection
so that you dont forget how to use it.
Not sure what I mean by collection? Check out my video on "How to improve your vocabulary"
to learn more.
At any rate, you now have a strategy and an exercise you can do every day with any video
or audio in English. The rest is up to you.
If you want even more content like this to help you improve your English, be sure to
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See you soon!