How did your breakfast go?
Before you could answer this question, you probably had to translate it into your native language and then back into English.
When you’re trying to have a fluent conversation, this can really slow you down!
Isn’t it easier if you could think and speak in English without hesitating?
As a consequence, there would be no time spent translating your words. You would simply speak your thoughts as they occur to you – in English!
Thinking in English has many benefits:
- Language proficiency improved
- Communication that is faster
- Fluency is enhanced
- Writing skills that are better
- Language proficiency
- As well as cognitive flexibility.
Being able to think in English is also one of the hallmarks of fluency. HOW do you do it?
I’ll show you seven ways to change your inner language to increase your fluency and speak confidently, FAST.
1. Don’t force yourself to talk
This is not even how we learn our native language, and it is not how traditional language learning methods work.
In English as a second language (ESL), many programs emphasize building a large vocabulary as quickly as possible and forcing you to speak before you feel comfortable.
However, this approach gives you a passive understanding of the words, rather than a deep understanding that leads to confidence and certainty.
Rather than only focusing on speaking (output), it is important to prioritize listening (input).
To achieve fluency, linguist Dr. Stephen Krashen says it’s only important to be exposed to messages you understand.
As opposed to memorizing a list of words, you need the right input.
Eventually, words will flow naturally from your mouth as you become more comfortable.
2. Learn words in a variety of contexts
Building your English brain – that is, thinking in English – requires you to learn how to use individual words, not just their definitions.
When natives speak, they start with situations. They think of an idea, then they think of the words that might be used. For natives, this is so important because they know so many ways to express themselves that they are able to come up with something to say very easily.
But learning words by translating them into your native language – as most adult English learners do – focuses on giving you a SINGLE definition or response. If you forget this one response, it stops you from speaking. Thus, you become stuck in conversations and struggle to become truly fluent.
As a child, you learned your native language by observing the world around you and associating situations with words and phrases.
Native English speakers make strong connections with vocabulary across many contexts, all in English, so that they understand words and grammar deeply, and use the language easily.
With an app called Frederick, you can connect individual words with situations (rather than translating them) if you’re not sure where to start. With the app, you’ll learn new words and phrases in the same way native speakers do – including how to correctly spell, pronounce and use them!
3. Use the right phrase in the right context
It’s essential to understand the context of a situation before you use English phrases.
By understanding the context, you can build your English brain and find the most appropriate English words.
You can talk with yourself about anything! Practice connecting phrases with situations, not their translations.
You can practice this conversation with yourself:
“How did your presentation go at work today?”
It’s giving me butterflies in my stomach. I’m a little nervous.”
English idioms like “butterflies in my stomach” can be confusing. Without context, it’s a phrase about eating flying insects. With context, it means feeling nervous.
It might feel unsettled, like your stomach feels when you’re nervous, if there are hundreds of butterflies inside of it.
With the feeling associated with the phrase, you’ll naturally use it in conversation – without having to translate it!
You’ll pay more attention to other ways of expressing the same idea when you start with the context (the situation) in this example.
This is another way of describing an uncomfortable feeling, and it can be used when you’re nervous or even sad.
By paying attention to situations, you’ll learn how to respond quickly and easily!
4. Connect whole sentences to situations
Enter a bakery that smells warm, inviting, and reminds you of home.
Upon paying for your freshly baked bread, you tell the cashier, “The smell of fresh-baked bread reminded me of home, so I stopped in.”
The smell of the bakery reminded you of home and made you feel a certain way. Through experience, context, and deep understanding, each word in English became an expression of your thoughts.
Rather than translating that from your native language into English, you can build your English brain to speak in full sentences so you can express yourself entirely in English.
The more you relate words and phrases to situations (rather than translating them), the more confidently and fluently you will connect longer sentences.
5. Review of a naturally varied product
Listening to different native speakers on the same topic continuously is the best way to learn how to think in English.
I call this a naturally varied review.
This method of learning will help you gain DEPTH in words and phrases, and your vocabulary will grow.
You can do it yourself by following these steps:
Choosing a topic that interests you
Three or more English YouTube videos made for native English speakers
Listening actively to their vocabulary and phrases
When you expose yourself to varied content about the same subject, you deepen your understanding and learn different words and phrases.
6. Make sure you surround yourself with different native speakers
According to a saying, “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.”
By surrounding yourself and spending more time with different native speakers, you gain a deeper understanding just by being around them! You are exposed to a variety of accents, pronunciations, tones, and speech patterns when you take this Naturally Varied Review, which can also make a significant impact on your listening skills and your ability to think in English.
7. Take a deep dive into topics
Did you know that you can apply your desire to learn about various subjects to your understanding of English?
Learn deeply about the topic you choose (such as Naturally Varied Review).
Understanding a word, phrase, or topic deeply will help you see how it can be used in English in many different ways.
In a recent YouTube video, I discussed this in detail.
Understanding a topic in English deeply will enable you to think about it in English deeply and bring that knowledge to mind when you speak.
Become fluent in English for life by thinking in English
These seven strategies will help you achieve fluency faster by helping you think like a native English speaker.
The more you understand words, phrases, and sentences in context, the more you will be able to understand the many different ways in which English words can be used to express different situations.
Join my Fluent For Life course to fast-track your way to fluency and accelerate your English brain development.
Fluent For Life is the only course that teaches English as a FIRST language and guarantees fluency for intermediate to advanced English learners.
Now is the time to get started!