If you speak with a lot of pauses and hesitations, but you want to speak English fluently and naturally like a native English speaker, the secret is…
Learn to think in English!
Many English students say:
- “It’s too difficult!
- “I don’t know enough English words!”
- “I need to think in my native language and translate.”
However, thinking in your native language and translating results in sentences that don’t sound natural in English, because the sentence structure is often different in English and your native language.
In addition, it takes too much time to think and translate when you’re in a conversation – leading to pauses, hesitations, and the inability to speak fast and fluently.
How to Learn to Think in English
So, here is how you can learn to think in English – from the beginner level to advanced.
Level 1 – Thinking in individual English words
For example, when you wake up in the morning, think of words like:
bed, toothbrush, bathroom, eat, banana, coffee, clothes, shoes
Then when you go to work, think of words like:
car, job, company, desk, computer, paper, pencil, colleague, boss
During the day, continue to think of the individual English words for everything you see, hear, and do. Try this exercise – look around you right now and think of all the English words you can. I’d imagine you can think of at least 10 words!
Level 2 – Thinking in complete English sentences
On this level, you think in complete phrases and sentences during the day.
When you’re at lunch, think:
- I’m eating a sandwich.
- My friend is drinking soda.
- This restaurant is very good.
When you’re watching TV, think:
- That actress is beautiful.
- The journalist has black hair.
- He’s talking about politics.
It’s OK if the sentences are very simple. The most important part is to practice and develop the habit of thinking in complete sentences in English.
Level 3 – Functional English
On this level, you imagine having to use English for everything that you need to do. After every time you speak in your native language, think of how you would say that in English. For example, how would you buy a train ticket or order a drink in an English-speaking country?
- A round-trip ticket to Central Station, please.
- Could I have a lemonade with no sugar?
This helps develop your English for real-life situations – even though you are only thinking and not speaking. If during this exercise you don’t know how to say something, check your dictionary later. If you do this kind of “mental practice” regularly, you will develop the ability to use English in any everyday situation.
Level 4 – Narrative English
(telling a story or speaking in English for a long time)
It’s best to do this exercise when you have some time – like when you’re waiting in line or taking public transportation. Think of a memory or a story that you would like to tell an English-speaking friend. Then “tell the story” in your head in English. Because you are only thinking, not speaking, you can relax and do your best without all the pressure of a real conversation.
You CAN learn to think in English!
I hope you can see that you don’t need to be super advanced to learn to think in English – you can start today. Try one of the four levels this week:
- Thinking in individual words
- Thinking in complete sentences
- Functional English
- Narrative English
Thinking in English is the biggest tip for increasing your fluency because it makes you more confident and helps you speak more easily without hesitation.
The next lesson is about correcting your English errors. You’ll learn 5 of the most common English errors and I’ll explain how to fix them.