Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Welcome back to Top Words. Today, we're going to talk about 10 ways to stop translating in your head. Let's get started.
"Identify objects around you in English." The first way to stop translating in your head is to identify the objects around you in your target language. So, if you're studying English, that means you look at the objects around the room, look at the things in your life. Don't think of them in your native language first. Think of them in your target language first. So, if I look around the room, I see a computer, I shouldn't think my native language word, I should think my target language word. So, start with the items and the situations in your everyday life. If I say "computer" in English, maybe I should say "computa" in Japanese. I should say "not, I don't know, water" in English. I should say "omizu" in Japanese. So, start associating the words in your target language with your everyday life now. So, if you're studying English, that means start getting familiar with the things in your everyday life in English.
"Repeat phrases you hear native speakers use." Tip number two is to repeat the phrases that you hear native speakers use. So, if you're watching this channel, for example, or you're watching a TV show or a movie, listen for the way that native speakers make those phrases. If you hear a phrase you have never heard before, or you hear an interesting combination of words, try to repeat them yourself. Don't just listen. Try to say them yourself. If you're in a public space and it's difficult for you to do that, fine, practice in a place where you feel more comfortable. Maybe if you have some private space to practice. Just repeat them. Get your mouth used to saying the words the way that the native speakers do.
So, if you never actually say words, if you're only taking in, if you're only listening and you're not actually producing the language, it's kind of hard to practice and to really hone your pronunciation, to improve your pronunciation. So, when you listen to native speakers, try to repeat after them. So, for example, if you're studying English, you can try to repeat after this video. You can repeat after the things I'm saying because maybe I'm using an expression or I'm using a series of vocabulary words together, the way a native speaker would, and it's maybe a good idea to try to practice the ways that native speakers put their words together. So, try to repeat after native speakers, especially when you're looking at media, and you can do this when you're reading books, too. You can try to read out loud interesting lines of books that you find, or something that maybe is difficult for you. Very nice practice tip.
"Make a situation where you can't escape into your native language." "Make a situation where you can't escape into your native language" essentially means immerse yourself. Of course, going to that country or going to a place where you can speak only that language is very difficult for some of you, totally understand. But if in your life you can create a situation in your library, in your room, in your house somewhere for just an hour or, I don't know, maybe a day, I don't know what your schedule is like, but if you can create a situation or create an environment where you have no choice but to use that language and you cannot escape, meaning you cannot go back to using your native language as a crutch, you can't use the native language at all, it forces you to use the language that you're studying.
So, of course, if you are lucky enough to live in the country or to live in a place where people speak the language you're studying, great, but you have to go out and interact with people. You have to put yourself in a place where you have no choice but to speak. It's very hard and it's very scary and it's very embarrassing at first, but if you take time to find places and to make environments that are comfortable for you where you feel comfortable making mistakes and asking questions, it's very valuable for your learning process. This is actually something that I did totally. I totally did this. My Japanese wasn't very good for a long time, but then I started making friends who could not speak English. Actually, I just did this through finding hobbies. There was a hobby that I had. I joined a group. I joined actually a school to where I could learn how to do that hobby, and everything was taught only in Japanese. And the people in my class only spoke Japanese, mostly.
And then maybe we would go out for drinks and food late at night or on the weekends and everybody spoke only Japanese. And if I couldn't communicate even simply in Japanese, I had no hope of keeping that friendship together. So, it forced me to study. It forced me to think about the words they were using and to try to learn those words, those patterns, as well as how to produce them naturally myself. So, I was learning the vocabulary words the people around me were using and learning how to apply them on my own. That was only possible because I had no escape in those situations. So, try to do that, even if you can do it yourself in your house. It's super helpful, I think.
"Watch TV and movies in your target language without subtitles." Tip number four is to watch TV and movies in your target language without subtitles. So, I think that watching with subtitles can be very beneficial. So, if I'm watching something or if you want to watch something with subtitles on, great, but I sometimes find that I can--in my case, I think too much about reading the subtitles and I forget to listen. So, maybe if you've seen a movie in your target language a few times with the subtitles on, try turning the subtitles off and think about the character's body language, the words they're using. You can always look that up later. Look up the words you don't know in a dictionary. But try to do it where you're focusing completely on the way that people are using their words. Try not to use the subtitle.
So, kind of play around with it a little bit. If there's a word that's difficult for you to hear, you can actually turn on the subtitles in the native language of the movie as well. That's something that I've done like if I wanted to study Japanese, it's very useful when the actual words spoken in Japanese appear on the screen. Sometimes it's easier for me to catch a word if I see it visually and I hear it at the same time. So, another way to explore how you can use TV and movies is to actually turn on the closed captions like the words on the screen in the native language of the movie. So, this is sort of two points in one. So, one, watch movies without subtitles, meaning subtitles in your native language, and hint two is to watch movies with closed captioning on, but the closed captioning is in your target language, not in your native language. So, you can try those two things with TV and with movie.
"Don't bring a dictionary to your lesson." Tip number five is "don't bring a dictionary to your lesson." Okay. So, give me a second here. So, I understand that dictionaries, especially electronic dictionaries, we have them on our phones now, are very, very convenient. Of course, it's important to use them and they're a great resource to have. However, one thing that really bothers me and that I think is detrimental, is not helpful for students, is when students are in a lesson and they're practicing conversation and they reach a point in the conversation where they don't know the word they want to use. They know it in their native language and they don't know how to say it in their target language.
They pull out their dictionary. They say to the person listening to them, their practice partner in their lesson where they have a limited period of time, "Just a moment." And then they look it up on their phone. It takes a few seconds. The flow of the conversation stops and then they say a word. It's like, "Whoa, no." You don't have that ability. You don't have the ability to do that in a conversation with a native speaker. Most people, like if you go to a bank and try to open a bank account, are you really going to pull out your dictionary and sit there and try to communicate, "Just a moment, just a moment," as you look up each word you don't know? No. Or if you do, that's not a real conversation. So, instead, try using a different strategy. By that, I mean if you find a word you don't know in conversation, explain the word to your conversation partner. Maybe they know the word. If you're speaking with a native speaker, this is a chance for them to teach you a word. I find that when people take the time to teach me a word, I remember the word much better than just looking it up on my dictionary.
So, try to resist. Maybe you can bring a dictionary to your lesson but don't use it or try not to use it in your conversation practice. It destroys the flow of a conversation. So, instead, practice the skill of describing the vocabulary word you want to use and learn how to ask the meaning of a word or learn how to ask for a vocabulary word from your partner. So, you can use an expression like "Ah, what's the word that means blah, blah, blah?" Or, "You know, it's this thing that does this and this and this." So, this is an opportunity for you to describe characteristics of something or find a different way. You can use your body language. You can use whatever. You have a lot of tools but try not to use a dictionary in a conversation because it's not realistic.
"Train responses to common questions." Number six is a quick one. I think number six, hint number six I have is just to train responses to common questions. So, for example, a very common question in English is, "Hey, how are you?" You should know how to answer this question. Just have a default response. "Hey, how are you?" "I'm good." If it takes you a long time to answer the question, "Hey, how are you?" you need to practice. I think that's a pretty good indicator. So, for example, "Sometimes I ask students a question like they haven't quite gotten the idea of how to respond just yet, they're not quick at responding. I say, "Hey, how are you?" And they say, "Yes." And then they think, and they go, "I'm good." That's a very common question.
So, think about just a default response that you can spit out, that you can quickly say. If it's, "How was your weekend?" Or, "Hey, what's up?" Or, "What do you want to do for dinner tonight?" Think about just a handful, meaning just a few responses to those questions and train them quickly, just, "How are you?" "I'm good." "How are you?" "I'm okay." "How are you?" "Not bad." There are three. So, it's just training responses to those questions. There's no reason to be surprised by a question like, "How are you?" That's a very common question. So, for those common questions, train responses to that. We've got a bunch of videos, especially beginner level videos for some example responses you can do. So, don't get stuck with these little questions. Just train a few responses. Practice a few responses 'til they feel natural to you. It will save you time and it will help the person asking the question, too, to move forward in the conversation.
"Study with materials that don't provide a translation." The next tip is to study with materials that don't provide a translation. So, by this, I mean if you're using worksheets or some kind of textbook or whatever and it has your target language, the language you're studying, and it has your native language next to it, while this can be useful, I feel that if you can, studying your materials only in your target language and then simplified explanations for more detailed points also in your target language can be a little bit better. So, I don't want to say like you should only study things in your target language and nothing from your native language because of course, it can be helpful sometimes to look up a word or to understand the grammar point in your native language.
But where possible, if you can find something that provides simplified explanations in your target language, it can be really, really helpful because again, you're thinking, you're learning to think on like a simpler and a more basic level about the language you're studying in the language that you're studying. So, this can be really, really good. So, finding some materials to use where there's no translation. Maybe you can practice of course with books and with written materials, but I also with like video materials as well. So, there are a variety of different ways that you can find materials in your target language, like in video and TV.
So, some things to think about, there are the level of vocabulary words people are using in the media content you're watching, who the media content is intended for, children, young adults, adults, the speed at which the speaker is talking. So, like I have the ability to change the level of difficulty of videos based on the rate of speech, the vocabulary words that I use, and how many idioms and things I use. So, I could make a video very difficult. We could make like a very difficult video series by leveling up our vocabulary use or by speaking very quickly. Or as you might see in our English in Three Minutes series, we can also use very simple vocabulary and speak at a low rate of speech. So, maybe right now, this is a very intermediate level video. So, please think about that. So, not just for written materials but also for your audio and visual materials. Think about who your audience is, the level of the material, and so on. It can be really fun and it can be helpful to think about your target language in your target language.
Alright, we're almost done. "Study phrases in addition to single vocabulary." The next tip is, study phrases in addition to single vocabulary words. So, yes, of course, vocabulary is important, but I find it personally very, very useful to look at how a vocabulary word is used in a phrase because sometimes, using it in a phrase helps you understand the nuance of that vocabulary word really, really well. Like a world like "crazy," for example, in English. Depending on the situation where the word "crazy" is used, it could mean something different. It could mean like a person who is mentally confused or mixed up. It could also mean something really good. It could mean something really bad. So, if we look only at the word "crazy," it's quite difficult to understand really the meaning of the word. But if you look at the way the word is used in a phrase, you can get a lot more information. So, take a look at the way people use words in phrases, not just a single vocabulary word. You can learn a lot more that way, I think.
"Do your daily activities in English where possible." The next tip is to do your daily activities in your target language. So, if you're studying English, that means try to do some daily activities in English, if possible. So, this could be very, very boring stuff, but just think about it when you're doing the activity. So, like right now, "I'm filming a video for englishclass101.com." Or, "I'm going to work. I'm cooking breakfast. I'm doing the laundry. What do I have to do tomorrow?" So, try thinking about your everyday life in English if you're studying English. Try thinking about your everyday activities; the people that you meet, what are you doing.
So, this is a way to help you practice your verb. So, if you don't know, if you're, I don't know, you're doing something at work and you're like, "Oh my gosh, how do I explain the--" what's the verb for a picture, like, "I want to blah, blah, blah, a picture. What's the word?" You can check a dictionary at that point and go, "Oh, it's draw. I need to use the verb draw for draw a picture." So, you can find these little gaps in your everyday life, these little gaps and your knowledge if you think about your everyday activities in your target language. If you don't think about it in your target language, you might not realize you have vocabulary gaps or phrase gaps here and there. So, this is a really good, and kind of funny actually, way to study.
"Use a learner's dictionary for new words." The last tip is to use a learner's dictionary for new words. So, in English, there are learner's dictionaries available in English. So, my favorite, my personal favorite is Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster is a fantastic dictionary resource. They're so interesting and they have tons of historical information. I really do just sit and like read things on the dictionary page lately. It's true. But of course there's a definition, there's a meaning for words, there are example sentences for words, but Merriam-Webster also has what's called a learner's dictionary. If you find a word that you don't recognize, you can check it in a dictionary, in a learner's dictionary, and it gives you a simplified, a simple explanation in simple English of that word. So, instead of checking it in your native language, you can check it in your target language. So, again, this helps you to understand the word that you're focused on, but you understand it from the language you're studying, not from your native language. So, using a learner's dictionary can be really, really useful as well.
Alright, so those are 10 Tips to Help You Stop Translating in Your Head. I know it's very difficult but it takes time and it takes practice and I hope that these are a few strategies that can help you as you study any language. Of course, this is an English language channel, an English language learning channel but I think these tips are pretty good for learning just about any language really. So, I hope those are useful for you. If you have tried these strategies or if you have any other comments or other tips, please let us know in the comments section below this video. Thanks very much for watching this episode of Top Words and I will see you again soon. Bye.