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Foreign language thinking pattern

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19 messages over 3 pages: 13  Next >>
Senior Member
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Speaks: Spanish*

 Message 9 of 19
30 April 2009 at 8:14pm | IP Logged 
J T wrote:
Hello everyone. My name is Nick and I am new to this forum.

I want to ask a question (especially to those people on this forum, who have a very high level of proficiency in multiple languages, which I am sure there are here):

What exactly does it mean "TO THINK IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE"? Now, I have heard a lot of people talk about this concept and I will admit that I am a bit confused, in regards to the meaning of this concept. So, if someone can explain this to me (from your own experience), I would appreciate your help very much.

You can be sure you think in another language when you can follow a conversation between natives at a natural pace, or a radio programme, and understand everything they say.

Also, I want to know: How exactly do you achieve this process (rather than the typical "re-translation" mindset, which I hear is not good at all)? And how long does it take to achieve this process?

By doing a lot of listening, but it doesn't really take any time to start thinking in your target language, you can do that from the kick-off with methods like Assimil.
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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5002 days ago

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Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 Message 10 of 19
30 April 2009 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 
It's a process that happens naturally. You need daily exposure to a language to start thinking in it, if it is not your mother tongue. I don't think you can force it and I don't think there is a benefit in doing that even if it was possible.

You know you're getting there when you start dreaming in a foreign language, because what you dream is beyond your conscious control. An example is that you dream that you have a conversation with someone and when you wake up you remember what you said, and that it was in a foreign language.

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Marc Frisch
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Speaks: German*, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Italian
Studies: Persian, Tamil

 Message 11 of 19
30 April 2009 at 10:57pm | IP Logged 
Thinking in other languages is something I haven't ever tried to achieve consciously, it just happened to me when I was immersed in the language. At some point, I realized that my inner voice was in another language. I think immersion is crucial.
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Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Norwegian, Spanish

 Message 12 of 19
01 May 2009 at 5:13pm | IP Logged 
One sure sign that you've crossed the divide is if your significant other doesn't speak the language of the area (and you do, of course), and you turn to her/him and continue in language you've in which you've been conversing. For example, my wife has to give me the gentle reminder "Do you realize you're speaking German?" A German exchange student we hosted for a year once looked at my wife and asked "Are you speaking English or German..."
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Senior Member
PolandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: Polish*, EnglishB2, GermanC2, SpanishB2, Dutch, Swedish, French

 Message 14 of 19
01 May 2009 at 6:48pm | IP Logged 
kikenyoy wrote:
Usually if I've been studying then it's easy for me to stay in Thai mode after I'm done but this was the first time it happened spontaneously.

My method is to think of a particular person I would speak the language to. I start to think what I would say and I automatically get to German, French or any other available language mode.
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TurkeyRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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10 posts - 19 votes
Speaks: English

 Message 15 of 19
24 September 2009 at 4:43pm | IP Logged 
I don't remember it but my mother told me that one day when she was trying to wake me in
the morning, I told her: "go away, I'm trying to sleep" or something similar to this (in
English of course and yes my mother knows enough English to be able to recall this). And
I occasionally had dreams in English when I was using this program called "Dyned". But
nowadays I don't study that intensely. So dreams are no more.

And one more thing, I find it easier to converse or think in a language after you spend
some time (e.g. 15 minutes) on speaking it with a native speaker.

Edited by mrasiteren on 24 September 2009 at 4:46pm

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Super Polyglot
Joined 5867 days ago

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 Message 16 of 19
24 September 2009 at 6:17pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
I don't think you can force it and I don't think there is a benefit in doing that even if it was possible.

I know that you can force it because I use the method as a substitute for personal contact with a teacher, when I'm dealing with natives without feeling that I'm ready for a fullblown conversation and simply to get something useful out of spare moments.

You just start slowly with single words, short phrases and later full sentences with 'holes', before you end up with whole sentences. Sometimes it is a help just to read a few genuine sentences before you try to think in your target language, until it becomes a habit.

Edited by Iversen on 24 September 2009 at 6:18pm

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