Stop Translating and Start Thinking In English
Despite memorizing long lists of vocabulary words and studying grammar for years, many of my students struggle to speak in English. They spend a lot of time translating in their head before speaking. They are able to understand spoken English (if it’s slow enough), but when it comes to speaking, they struggle.
If this sounds like you, keep reading!
There are many ways to practice thinking in English. Using unscripted videos is one way to develop the skill of thinking in English. If you often find yourself translating in your head, use short films to practice thinking in English by watching actively.
By increasing your ability to think in English, you will improve your ability to speak in English.
How to Think in English
As you watch, try to narrate what is happening in English. Stop yourself if you begin to think in another language. Even if you can only begin with simple vocabulary words, it is good practice. As you improve your vocabulary and grammar, you can progress to more complex sentences.
Proceed from Words to Sentences
Depending on your level, you might start with words (boy, woman, glasses, newspaper) or sentences (The woman is reading a newspaper. The boy is texting. They are sitting on a bench). Do what you can. The more you practice, the easier and faster it will be to produce English without translating (buffering in Konglish).
Develop English Vocabulary and Grammar Using Short Animated Films
In addition to using videos to practice thinking in English, you can also use them to develop vocabulary and grammar. There are many short films with no words, so comprehension (understanding) is easy. Start with the film below.
Think about Grammar
There are many different ways to use the video below to work on grammar while practicing thinking in English. You can use Snack Attack to practice:
- Verb tenses (present, present progressive, past, etc.)
- Adjectives (tall, short, old, green)
- Comparative adjectives (taller, shorter, angrier, happier, older)
- Tag question formation
All of the vocabulary words below are related to the video. They may serve as a reminder of forgotten words to help you or perhaps some will be new. Working with words in context like this will help you remember them more easily.
Objects: vending machine, cookies, bag (purse), newspaper, bench, train, headphones, glasses, head scarf, stairs, hole puncher, window shade, wrapper, container, trash can
Feelings: happiness (happy) anger (angry), frustration (frustrated), amusement, surprise, regret
Actions: attack, put, hit, kick, run, get, laugh, sit, open, read, take, brush off, tap, yell, listen to, smile, text, grab, nod, shake, frown, tug, break, raise, give, eat, swallow, point, squeeze, smash, crunch, crumble, throw, walk away, leave, climb, get on, sit, close, punch, discover, find, realize, look, get up, throw away
Words to describe actions: forcefully, angrily, happily, playfully, kindly
Think About the Answers in English
These questions progress from easy to more difficult. How many can you answer in detail?
- What’s happening?
- Who are the characters?
- Where are they?
- What are they doing?
- What is the story?
- When does the old lady realize her mistake? How does she figure out what happened?
- What changes by the end of the story?
- What lesson can we learn from this story?
Ready for more?
You might also enjoy the short film Alike. The lesson is for intermediate level students, but the film can also be used for thinking in English. You can also search YouTube for lots of short animated films to use.