Thinking in a second language

The most important thing to understandwhen learning a language is that the thought process involved in speaking a second language is not a matter of formulating a thought in your first language, and then translating it into the second language.

Instead, your thought process must be a matter of “scanning your inventory” in L2, searching for something suitable to say. Yes, this suitable something you find may be entirely different from what you would have said had you been thinking and speaking in L1.

For example, if you asked me (in L2) my opinion on X, and I thought X was “the best thing I’ve ever seen”, I might simply say “I like it a lot", in order to avoid the more complex grammar of the L1 construction. Yes, it lacks ‘resolution’, detail, but it is still true in sum and substance.

Do not begin by thinking in L1 and translating to L2, but rather to THINK in L2, even if your thoughts be considerably more simplistic and general. By practicing this mental discipline of controlling your thoughts and choosing to say something manageable, you will quickly become more fluent, more comfortable, and more complex and expressive in the second language.