IWTYAL 087: How to avoid translating in your head

Pete asks: “I’m learning Portuguese, how can I avoid translating in my head?”

In this episode:

  • Translation is inevitable
  • It’s a useful strategy as a beginner
  • Translation stops being useful as you move to higher levels, and you’re dealing with nuances in the language which often don’t have translations
  • Stopping translating in your head is something that happens naturally over time

Tips for moving away from translation:

  • Be happy with a certain level of ambiguity in the language – fixating on understanding every word is counterproductive
  • Look for patterns and phrases in the language, write them down, notice them being used in different contexts, the begin to use them yourself
  • Deal in phrases and sentences, not single words
  • When watching movies etc, relax and be present with the language, don’t try to understand everything
  • Spend time on all four skills

Today’s Quote:

  • “You don’t learn a language, you get used to it.” – Katsumoto

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Olly's Top Resources For Learning:
  • niko d.

    You don’t know a language, you live it. You don’t learn a language, you get used to it. — Khatzumoto

  • Victoria Minnear

    Oh cool 🙂 I was thinking about asking you this question myself! Great podcast as usual Olly!

  • thiago

    I’ve been using an app called HInative, and it’s amazing. Have you heard about him? It’s pretty cool.

  • Melissa

    This was a great podcast and something that I have been struggling with as well. I think over time translating is decreasing but after a year of studying my target language, I still find myself doing it. It makes me feel a little bit better that in some ways it is okay to do. After having conversations, reading or watching something in my target language, I will remember it in English. Maybe this is because I have not fully transitioned to having learned the new language.