Filed Under: thinking in English
August 31, 2021 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Let’s assume that you’re a non-native English speaker.

If you’re forcing yourself to adapt to thinking in English… then you have it all wrong.

In fact, I don’t recommend you to practise/adapt yourself to thinking in English at all.

That’s just the wrong way to actually learn English.

What you should do instead is to just speak English. Just do it. Don’t think about it and just speak English.

Because if you keep trying to think in English, you’re just trying to force something to happen… and that’s just not the best way to learn English. What will happen is your brain will just resist, and you’ll likely create more problems for yourself (i.e., get more bad habits). But when you train yourself in the right kind of way, thinking in English just happens as a by-product. (You can read more about this in my book, “Think English, Speak English”.)

But what you can do is nudge your brain towards thinking in English by encouraging it to do the things that it wants to do anyway… just in English.

Here’s a good example of this:

You’re at a grocery store thinking of stuff to buy. So, you pick up some cooking items thinking about what to cook tonight. Instead of thinking of the ingredients, recipe, or cooking methods you’ll do in your native language… do it in English. Because this way, you’re not exactly forcing your brain to think in English, you’re just giving it a little nudge to do what you would do anyway in your first language.

So, again, don’t force yourself to think in English. You’re not going to learn English if you’re forcing your brain to do it. Instead, what you need to do is adapt to a good English-learning method. In fact, you can start with the one-hour free training that I created here.

Hope that helps.

Dr Julian Northbrook

December 15, 2020 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

If you’re worried about how to practise thinking in English, you’re doing something very wrong.

You don’t “practise” thinking in English.

You either do it or you don’t.

Now, walking down the road fantasising in English… yes… when you’re at, say, the supermarket, having English in your head… yes.

And you can try to consciously make this happen…

But if you’re doing things right, you shouldn’t *need* to make it consciously happen – it should happen anyway, all by itself.

First, the better you get at English, the more you’ll think in English.

Second, the better the way you learn English, the more you’ll think in English right from the start without your first language ever getting in the way.

I learned Japanese to a very high level (not perfect, but enough that I worked in a Japanese company all in the language, and worked as a translator for a while, too). Personally, I never had any problem with translating in my head – I always “thought” in Japanese right from the start, even if in the beginning when it wasn’t much. If I’m speaking Japanese, my head is all in Japanese. And it was always like that.

But I had a big advantage compared to most people: I was a terrible student at school and failed languages (French in my cause). So I had no bad habits.

Basically, if you’re studying grammar rules and trying to combine those with words when you speak… or learning via translations in your native language… then it’s only natural you’ll “think” in your native language. Because it’s the way you learn that’s causing the problem.

My recommendation:

  1. When you’re doing something in English, don’t try to “learn English” — instead, just do. And do as much as you can in English.
  2. But also have a block of time every day where you are intentionally studying English (so that your English grows) — but the key here is a balance between learning and just doing.
  3. Stop trying to speak with grammar and words, and instead learn (and speak) in larger “chunks” (which is how native speakers speak).
    If you’re stuck with your English and not moving forward, don’t worry.

I can show you a better way to learn.

MEFA enrolment will open for January 2021 on Dec 24th.

This is normally the fastest-filling month of the year and if you want a place I advise you to add yourself to the waiting list:

Note: I’ll be closing the waiting list for this month on Dec 20th.

Dr Julian Northbrook