How to Think in English? | English with Lucy

Hello everyone and welcome back to English with Lucy. How to think in English? Right! Today I am going to teach you how to train yourself to think in English and thus stop translating in your head. I have got five steps. They may seem simple at first glance, but the devil is in the detail. If you follow these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to thinking completely in English with no need for translating in your head.

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  1. Word Identification: English With Lucy
  2. Silent Narration: English With Lucy
  3. Daily Correction: English With Lucy
  4. Self Conversation: English With Lucy
  5. Immersion: English With Lucy

1. Word Identification: English With Lucy

Right, let’s get started with step number one, word identification. So when you’re training yourself to think in English or any other language, the first thing you should do is start with simple words.

When we are children learning a language for the very first time, we start off with individual words, so that’s what we’re going to do here. Wherever you are, whenever you become aware of the fact that you have an opportunity to learn some English, you might be on the bus, you might be walking somewhere, you might be sat at home like a lot of us are at the moment.

Look around you, what do you see, start picking out words from your surroundings? They’ll probably be nouns at first so I can see windows, curtains, radiators, boxes, a glass, pen and a notebook.

If you identify a word that you don’t know in English, you’re going to need to note it down, but I don’t want you to write it down in your own language.

I want you to describe it using the language that you do already have. We need to get out of the habit of relying on our first language. At the end of the day, look at your new word list and go through Google in English preferably, trying to work out what all of these things are.

2. Silent Narration: English With Lucy

Now let’s move on to step number two which is silent narration. When we’re small children, we start with words and we move on to simple short sentences and then as we grow older they become more complex.

It’s exactly the same when you learn a second language or additional language. Just like we did in step one, I want you to look around but think more about what is happening rather than what there is. Narrate what you are doing, what animals are doing, what is happening around you.

So this means you’re going to start needing to use verbs. Every time you come across something that confuses you, something you don’t know how to describe or narrate in your head, you need to note it down to ask your teacher or language partner. Which brings me on to step three.

3. Daily Correction: English With Lucy

Step three is daily correction. You need correction ideally every single day. It’s very, very difficult to learn a language to a fluent level without having someone else help you.

To keep your mind connected to English all the time, it is important that you study every day.

The best possible way of doing this is taking a proper English class with a native-speaking qualified teacher every single day.

4. Self-Conversation: English With Lucy

Let’s move on to step four. Step four is self-conversation. Having conversations with yourself.

It sounds like something a crazy person might do, but actually it’s not at all crazy, it’s very, very useful. This is going to help you practise asking questions and giving replies. It’s training you to go through the motions of having a conversation in another language.

It seems simple, but you’ve got to force yourself to do it. Not only is this going to help you train yourself to think in English, it’s also going to help you with your general conversation in English.

When you become stuck, don’t forget to note it down and then bring it to your teacher or your language partner and they should be able to help you. Now, if you do this enough, if you have enough conversations with yourself in English or your chosen language, you might find that you start to automatically think in English without even trying. It happens to me in Spanish all the time. I was so obsessed with Spanish when I was really in the process of learning it.

I’m always learning, but when I was really trying to get to that fluent level, I always used to chat to myself in Spanish,

out loud at home and in my head when I was in public. Even now, I’ve lived away from Spain since 2014 so, six years but I still think in Spanish. I’m going to talk about this more in step number five, but what you’re doing here is mimicking immersion.

By always having English going on in your head you are mimicking being in England and having English conversations or any other English-speaking country of course I’m not biased, well, I totally I’m.

5. Immersion: English With Lucy

And step number five is actually immersion or near immersion. Full immersion surrounding yourself by English isn’t totally possible for everyone. The best thing you can do is get up and go to an English-speaking country, but that’s very hard at the moment.

What you’ve got to do is create a fake England or America or Canada or Australia around you. Start and end the day with your chosen dialect. If you have a TV in your bedroom or a radio in your bedroom or even on your smartphone, set it so that in the morning instead of an alarm, a radio switches on. A radio that has spoken in your chosen dialect. Maybe you could use a VPN to access British morning TV or American morning TV.

Something that seems very mundane and would be very mundane for native speakers, but mundane is what you want, it’s the everyday immersion. Another great option is making friends and speaking with natives. I have a whole video about this. Many people find this very difficult, which is why I made the video to help you out.

I’ll put it up there and I’ll also link it in the description box, but in general, people feel like there are more students wanting to learn English than there are English speakers wanting to speak to students. And this is true, but there are ways around that. So I really do recommend that video.

If you find it really difficult or really anxiety-inducing, then you could set up English nights or English sessions with your friends or maybe just with yourself. It’s absolutely fine to continue doing this by yourself. As I said, it’s better to have help, but not everyone wants that. Throw a dinner party in English, buy an English cookbook or look at English recipe websites. There are loads. I’ll put some recommendations down below. But BBC Good Food is a great one, we do a lot of British dishes there. Look for chefs like Jamie Oliver, he does a great 15-minute meals range that are really quick and easy and supposed to be quite healthy. Follow the recipe in English.

Narrate as you do it, identify words around you as you’re doing it, and then serve it in English with your friends or not, and have either real or silent conversation as well. Now what will you start noticing? How will you know when you’re finally able to think in English? One thing I noticed was that I started dreaming in Spanish and my brain got really confused and I actually started dreaming of my parents talking to me in Spanish. It was very odd because it wasn’t my mom’s voice, but it was my mom’s speaking to me in Spanish. You’ll also find yourself understanding jokes and humor, and that’s something that’s really, really enjoyable.

And you’ll also surprise yourself on multiple occasions when you realise, oh my God, I was thinking in that language, when you hadn’t even tried to you realise that it’s becoming second nature. And one of the best things is when you can think of a word in the language you’re learning, but you can’t think of it in your own language. That’s so weird when that happens, but it really means you’re getting somewhere. Your brain is automatically going to the language you’re learning first.


Right, that’s it for today’s lesson, I hope you enjoyed “How to think in English, and I hope you learned something well.

Please feel free to share any more tips down below, especially if you’ve managed to start thinking in English and to stop translating in your head. Don’t forget to connect with me on all of my social media. I’ve got my Facebook, my Instagram, my Twitter, and my personal YouTube page where I talk about everything that isn’t related to English. I will see you soon for another lesson.


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