If you are a person who loves learning foreign languages, you’ve surely heard that thinking in the target language improves your chances of becoming fluent in it. This probably falls right in line with the things you learn, such as speaking, reading, writing, and listening. The only difference with thinking in a foreign language is that you control the thinking on your own.

‘Despite what many people think, thinking in a language is actually a skill. This is an intimate process that helps you translate the thoughts from a language you know to a language you are trying to learn, and what bigger liberty to express yourself than in your mind, when no one else is distracting or listening?’ – says Leo Gomez, content writer at the academic writing help service RushMyEssay.

Once you come to the point where you have some knowledge of a foreign language, it is time to work on this skill.

HERE ARE 7 SCIENCE-BASED METHODS TO THINKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE THAT WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE THIS:

1. FOCUS ON FLUENCY, NOT ACCURACY

If you’ve studied the best ways to learn a language, you surely know of this strategy. Interestingly, the same actually applies to thinking in a foreign language, since the process actually intertwines expression and thought.

When you focus on accuracy over fluency, you are unable to express yourself, either inside or outside your head. At least not during the first levels of your foreign language learning. Grammar and vocabulary is extremely important and should definitely be learned, but when it comes to thinking inside your head, it is time to let this go.

The key to achieving language fluency through thinking in a foreign language is to get rid of the idea that it has to be perfect. Aiming towards perfection can lead to what experts call perfection paralysis, which can only cause frustration and decrease your motivation to learn.

2. VISUALIZE

Another common trick between thinking and speaking in a foreign language is visualization. In order to express your thoughts in a language different from the one you are using on daily basis, it is very helpful to actually visualize the things you are saying.

The brain is not created in a way that it can fully differentiate between imagined and real actions. One study has proven that the brain sends exactly the same impulses to a person’s legs when he is imagining running, as it does when the actual running process is happening.

As it turns out, our brain is set to treat visualization as similar to the real deal. This is why we use imagination to plan things and adjust our strategies, and why we should visualize learning a foreign language.

3. THINK DIRECTLY

Some experts say that, in order to learn a language, you need to think ONLY in that language. This is certainly not something you can achieve at the beginning phases of your language learning, but you should eventually start aiming toward such ‘direct thinking’.

When you translate everything you think, you may get stuck in between worlds, or lose the idea along the way. But, when you think directly in the target language, you can easily detect the gaps in your knowledge and wake those dormant vocabulary phrases and words you do not use when actually speaking the language.

4. IF IT DOES NOT WORK, TRANSLATE YOUR THOUGHTS

When you cannot think in the language directly, this seems like the obvious thing to do. And it actually is. If you haven’t arrived to the point where you can get visualize and actually think in the foreign language, you need to start with your own and turn that stream of words into a translation inside your brain.

You’ve probably heard of this strategy and most likely, you heard that it is a bad thing to do for your language learning. The previous strategy is definitely the most recommended when it comes to thinking in a foreign language, but we can all agree that you cannot just skip to thinking directly when learning a completely new language!

If you are a beginner, start translating your thoughts. Start by translating things that you read and see, until the point when you are ready to do the actual thing. Once you feel like you are ready, you can start working on your direct thinking.

5. WRITE IN A JOURNAL

Journaling is an excellent way to keep track of your thoughts, not only a way to take notes. Make a separate journal for your language thinking, and start a habit of writing down the things that you thought during the day.

This is basically another way to practice the skill. You may find it to be a bit slower, but you will be grateful for your journal keeping when you want to see the progress of your thoughts or glaze over the things you already considered.

In addition to this, writing in a journal is also advantageous in the sense that you can discuss your thoughts with others without being disrupted in the actual process. Your journal writing will be a daily monologue, but this does not mean that you cannot get feedback and corrections on your writing afterwards.

6. READ AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN

Reading is a step you shouldn’t miss when learning another language. When you read books in the target language, this will not only improve your vocabulary but also give you a sense of belonging in the author’s culture.

Obviously, reading someone else’s ideas and writing is not ‘direct thinking in a foreign language’, but the actual reading process has many more benefits than you think. When it comes to thinking in a foreign language, reading allows you to build ideas for further thinking, improve your vocabulary and fluency, and even create imaginary alternatives to those the author has chosen in his/her writing.

7. DESCRIBE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Cannot come up with ideas of WHAT to think about? Luckily, there is no rule as to what topic is best to think about in your mind, which gives you the liberty to improvise.

When you cannot think of anything to think about in a foreign language, start describing the things around you.

That’s it! You now know the seven key steps to learning how to think in a foreign language. Once you implement these into your daily routine, you will notice rapid and amazing changes in your language learning.

You have decided to learn another language. Now what? Ask yourself: what do you want to achieve and by when? Our teachers found: “Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months. This is far more motivating and realistic.”

You might be feeling wildly optimistic when you start but aiming to be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. We generally recommend making these goals tangible and specific: “Why not set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?”

REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU ARE LEARNING

It might sound obvious, but recognising exactly why you want to learn a language is really important. Motivation is usually the first thing to go, especially among students who are teaching themselves. To keep the momentum going we suggest writing down 10 reasons why you are learning a language and sticking it to the front of the file you are using and turn to these in times of self-doubt.

THINK LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE IS BORING? THINK AGAIN – WITH THESE TECHNIQUES, YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS WHILE HAVING FUN!

HERE ARE SEVEN UNORTHODOX LANGUAGE LEARNING TIPS THAT MIGHT JUST CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN THE LANGUAGE LEARNING PROCESS:

Stage a Play
It doesn’t have to be a big production. Remember that the keyword to these tips is fun while learning. Stage a short play for a small audience you think would enjoy.

Of course, the other key point here is to stage a play in a completely different language, preferably the one you’re learning. Make use of the language while having fun in this simple activity.

Go on a Blind Date
One way to meet new people, have fun, and practice a new language all at once is through this unconventional tip.

Go on a blind date with a native speaker and try practising a few key phrases with them during your date. You can even go to a restaurant and try practising your basic phrases while ordering.

Cook a Foreign Dish
The important part of this exercise is to cook a dish in which instructions are written in another language. This not only boosts your vocabulary, but it also helps acquaint you with basic phrases and instructions.

To avoid any accidents, start out with minor dishes first. You don’t have to be able to cook a grand meal yet, just make sure you get the hang of the language.

Buy Comics
Like children’s books, comics are also fun and easy to read, and can also help you be more familiar with the language you’re learning.

Aside from this, interesting storylines and appealing images won’t make it look like a chore, but more of an engaging exercise that both appeals to your visual senses, and helps you learn faster and better.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of reading, learning the language overall will be much easier.

Explore Your Surroundings
This one is for people who are travelling to another country. To really test whether you’ve learnt the language right, head out of your cosy hotel room, and walk the streets.

Ask the locals about facts and places in the area where it might be good to stay and further immerse yourself in the culture. Just make sure you can find your way back later on.

Write Down Your Grocery List
Similar to learning to cook in your language of choice, writing down your grocery list is a simple and engaging way to incorporate the language in your daily life.

In fact, before getting on the recipe itself, you can start with the grocery list first. Build your vocabulary by identifying as many kitchen materials and foodstuff in a foreign language you know. You might be surprised by your progress.

Introduce Yourself
Try this out with a friend, or with a pen pal.

Practice communicating with others in a foreign language by making a full introduction using that language alone. Avoid code-switching to your native tongue, but try to sound as natural as possible in your introduction.

Don’t be too stiff. If you’re comfortable enough with the person whom you are sharing to, you can also ask for feedback on how well you used the language.

LEARNING DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO STAY IN SCHOOL, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO AN IMMERSIVE TOPIC LIKE LANGUAGE. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX AND ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES THAT MIGHT SEEM A BIT DIFFERENT FROM CLASSROOM EXERCISES.

INCORPORATE THE LANGUAGE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE TO MAKE IT FEEL MORE NATURAL TO YOU.

The most successful essays are well planned. Essays that go off the point with lots of extra detail will get poor marks.

STICK TO THE QUESTION

Underline key words in the essay title so you really understand the question being asked. It’s not about writing all you know about a topic.

Words like ‘discuss’, ‘compare and contrast’, ‘evaluate’, ‘account for’ are used as ways to direct your answer; make sure you know what they mean.

Other questions may start with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’ or ‘when’.

WRITE A PLAN

Brainstorm your ideas on the essay topic to get started. Spider diagrams are good for this.

Plan the structure of the essay by numbering each of your ideas in order of importance. At this stage, you may wish to leave some of them out or develop others by breaking them into sub points. Redo your original spider diagram as necessary.

You may have to present your argument for the essay under broad themes like ‘economic’, ‘social’, ‘political’ or ‘religious’ reasons. Make sure you understand which theme suits each of your points, then group your all points on the same theme in order of importance into a separate paragraph.

WRITING THE ESSAY

1. INTRODUCTION

Your essay must have an introduction. State the main points you will discuss in order to support your answer to the question set in the title of the essay.

2. DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR ARGUMENT

After the introduction, add further paragraphs to build your argument, make the most important points first. Remember the way these points are ordered makes your argument clearer to the reader.

Start a new paragraph for each new important point and any linked points that relate to the question. You may include quotations from other historians and refer to primary sources (such as you can find on this website) to support a particular point.

Make sure your essay makes chronological sense. Try to present any factual points in date order.

Avoid telling the story of what happened. If you refer to an important historical event, you must make a point or comment about it. This will stop your essay from becoming a simple narrative and it shows you are trying to analyse events rather than just describe them.

Aim for five to seven paragraphs, depending on the essay and level, of course, you are following.

3. CONCLUSION

Sum up the main points and briefly restate your argument.

RE-READ YOUR WORK, CHECK FOR SPELLING ERRORS, AND REDRAFT IF NECESSARY.