Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

3 Ways to Start "Thinking" in English

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

How to think in EnglishYou have been studying English for years and years and years. So why is it that you still don't feel comfortable speaking in real conversations?

Why is it that you can pass the TOEFL exam, but you keep freezing when it comes to speaking with native speakers?

Why are you still translating your native language into English in your mind before you speak?

What is going on here?

Over the past few months I have spoken with 40 different English learners to try to understand the biggest challenges that English students have.

I found that "not being able to think in English" is one of the biggest challenges. If you are facing this problem, here are a few tips to overcome it!



#1) Learn vocabulary and phrases for specific situations


vocab 4  whichDon't just learn isolated vocabulary words by studying the dictionary! If you are currently memorizing the dictionary- stop doing that now!

Choose a situation where you need to communicate and learn based on that. For example, do you know how to give your opinion about a movie in English?


Here are some phrases that you could use to give your opinion about a movie:

  • "The cinematography was beautiful"
  • "I loved the scene where...."
  • "The movie really captured the intensity of the situation."
  • "The film portrays a family living in a NYC suburb in the 1950's."



#2) Learn with native speakers

learn English with native speakers from the United StatesDo you know why group classes don't work?

Because you hear your classmates' mistakes over and over again and you repeat those mistakes if you don't know that they are incorrect.

Learn with native speakers!

Learning with native speakers will keep you motivated! If you are motivated you will learn faster.

It will create a positive feedback loop.

Find ways to connect with native speakers through podcasts, language exchanges, or conversation programs.




#3) Study English in short blocks of time

Study English in short periods of timeMost of us have a short attention span now thanks to the Internet!

If your attention is short, don't try to fight it by sitting down for a 90-minute class.

Listen to a podcast for 10 minutes on your way to the train.

Connect with a conversation partner for 30 minutes. Read a quick article in the NY Times before you open your email.

Do this a few times per day to keep your studying consistent and stay motivated.




Are you an intermediate or advanced learner?

Do you want to start thinking in English now?  Click the link below to learn about Speakative, our conversation partner program!

You will get a native conversation partner from the US who will speak with you about in-depth topics and correct your mistakes.


Click below to learn more!







Photo credits: Dell's Official Flickr Page, julianlimj

Topics: Advice for English Students, How to Learn English

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