Do You Translate Back Into Your Native Language?

lucky   Saturday, October 23, 2004, 16:46 GMT
I'm sure you think you already know the answer.
You are just curious if others think the same as you. aren't you?

I think I'm not translating into my mothertongue hearing english.
The ultimate level of second language learner is to skip the 'translation process'.

We can connect non-mothertongue words directly to our brain as we do with our mothertongue.
We can think of something at the same time we hear/see a non-mothertongue word as we do with our mothertongue.

the 'translation process' keep us from understanding other language because we cannot do translation and hearing simultaneously.
if it's not the hearing but reading, at least it makes us take more time to understand and leads us to misunderstand the meaning at times as you wrote.

in the beginning of learnig, we can't help trying to understand by translation because that's natural.
however the more familiar with target language, the less translation there would be.
Joe   Saturday, October 23, 2004, 17:00 GMT
What it is, is, this is the farthest along in a foreign language I've ever gotten. Despite the fact I took HS Spanish for three years, it was the biggest waste of time and energy, because you move at a horrible pace, learn tons of vocabulary words and no way to put it in conversational context, and spend time coloring. Fun stuff. I won't even say I can speak Spanish, I plan to learn it all over, because it was fruitless. I got straight As yet I can't say half the stuff I can say in German after three months.

So this is the first time I ever got to this stage. And I know everyone's minds work differently. It actually is a question I ask of concern, because I feel that if you translate it back into your native language constantly it can be a huge hurdle and complicate things.

Just like you said, lucky, I think that it's a natural thing at first, and as you get more experienced you don't do it anymore, unless you have a habit of having to do it.
lucky   Saturday, October 23, 2004, 17:24 GMT
I just realized there are the people who never stop translating.
And I know most of them would not realize it's the obstacle and stop that as long as they're told not to.

I should tell you it is one of the greatest instruction that "Please don't think in mothertongue when you're with english for learning -I mean non-native languge" here.

I think your concern will make a lot of learners rethink and help.

wish you luck, Joe :)
Joe   Saturday, October 23, 2004, 20:06 GMT
Thanks, Lucky!

Well, if I'm able, through my question, to help some learners of English or any foreign language think about the obstacle that thinking in English or whatever their native tongue is causing to their learning of the foreign language, that would be very nice. I know I'm definitely not the only one who has wondered this before.

You really DO have to think in the language. I sometimes will find myself being able to answer a question in German before I can think of the English counterpart. I noticed that yesterday. So I guess I'm on the right track! :)
Sanja   Sunday, October 24, 2004, 14:16 GMT
Now that I think of it, sometimes I remember an English word or expression before I even think of my native one, but that usually happens with the words/expressions that are used in English and can't be literally translated into my native language. Sometimes I'm not even sure how to translate it, but I can use it in Enlish and know exactly what it means.
Mxsmanic   Monday, October 25, 2004, 03:14 GMT
In other words, you're thinking in English. Extend that to every use of English and you'll be thinking in English whenever you use it, which is the ultimate objective.

Sometimes learning words in the target language that have no real equivalent in your own language is a good step towards thinking in the target language ... because then you have no choice.
Joe   Tuesday, October 26, 2004, 20:48 GMT
Yes, that's true, Mxsmanic, but when you're beginning it's kind of hard to seek out word by word those that have no real English equivalent. If you ask me, though, with German, because sentences are formed so differently, all that trying to directly think in English does is screw you up. The structure of a German sentence is Time, manner, then place, as in "Ich habe heute Abend mit meinem Mann nach Frankfurt besucht." If you tried to translate that literally, it would be "I have this evening with my husband to Frankfurt visited"

At first I did that, and it drove me crazy! lol Never ever do that.

From YOUR own experience, Mxsmanic, how long did it take you to really be able to tune out English and just focus on French when writing, reading, speaking, listening?
Mxsmanic   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 04:40 GMT
As soon as I had a reasonable vocabulary and grasp of the grammar, I was able to think in French. It produced much better results than mental translation, and it was easier.

I don't see how the difference between German and English can screw you up when trying to think in English, because if you are trying to think in English, there is no German involved at all. If you try to translate between the two, however, you'll have big problems.

The structure you give in your example is not so foreign to English as you might suppose. One can easily say "I have this very evening to all my friends given thanks," which is very similar.

Anyway, the sooner you think in your target language, the faster and better you will learn it. And it's not that hard to think in the language.
Eastie aka Easterener   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 15:40 GMT
>>Anyway, the sooner you think in your target language, the faster and better you will learn it. And it's not that hard to think in the language.<<

Given enough native vocabulary, plenty of exposure to authentic sources and some practice, I think it can take less than a year to start thinking in a foreign language. As for myself, I always find it hard to translate an utterance in a language I know well, because it is very natural for me to simply *understand* it, and understanding rather than translating back into my native language is what I try to do whenever I encounter a text in a language I perhaps do not know so much. Reading or listening for gist could be one way of accelerating this process.
Sanja   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 19:02 GMT
It's hard for me to imagine thinking in a foreign language, because whatever I do or think, it's in my native language. But if there is no exact translation, sometimes I do think in English.
Mxsmanic   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 19:33 GMT
You can think in a target language by limiting your thoughts to simple concepts that you've learned to express. Avoid heavy philosophy until you really know the language well.

It's just as easy to think in a foreign language as it is to think in one's native language, as long as one limits oneself to thoughts that one knows how to express in the foreign language. When a person speaks multiple languages, in fact he has learned a giant metalanguage with subdivisions that correspond to each of the natural languages he has learned. Saying something in a different language is no more complex than choosing a different word in his native language for a given concept.
Joe   Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 20:12 GMT
I agree with you totally, Mxsmanic.

Sometimes, I've found that if I give too much thought to what I want to say, that's when I screw up. If I let it "flow" it comes out correctly. Only when I start intellectually debating what to say do I make minor mistakes.

I'm proud of my progress, and I'm looking forward to getting better at the language, and of course the best way to do it is through practice.

What drives me nuts is my tendency to worry that I'm going to forget words. It's stupid, but I'm afraid that if I'm not always thinking of the vocabulary I'll forget it, even when I use it daily. I don't do that in English so don't ask me why I do it with a foreign language. I think it's just some remnant of beginning anxiety. lol