AEE 1187: How to Think in English on the Spot

Do you want to be able to think and speak English even on the spot?

Do you want to get out of the bad habits and get into good ones where thinking and speaking in English become natural and effortless?

A student said that she always translates from Japanese into English while she’s speaking.

This is so common and is one of the major reasons that connections don’t get formed.

We’re going to look at how to break this habit, create new ones, and learn to make this your new norm.

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Create Good Habits Early On

The way to start thinking in English when you’re “on the spot” is to have a habit of thinking in English when you’re NOT on the spot.

What does that mean?

This takes practice and it means that you are trying to think in this language and make it a regular habit.

This takes diligence and means that you have to really begin to think and speak like a native.

So how exactly do you do this?

Create an “ALL ENGLISH” block of time in your day.

This is time that you only speak, think, talk, and act in an English frame of mind.

In this case the student had a chunk of time in the morning that would be perfect to accomplish this.

She was going into work and had to be able to speak English right away- so the timing of this would help her warm up her mind in English only.

This was her dedicated time and it worked really well, sort of like a training or conditioning exercise.

Making This Work In Your Own Life

During our Native English Power Weekend in Japan in May of 2019 we offered 1-1 coaching with Lindsay or Jessica. During one of Lindsay’s coaching sessions a student mentioned that she could not think in English, especially at work.

Lindsay and the student brainstormed a great idea for how to overcome this.

Let’s take our example of the student into consideration and then you can start to visualize how this could work for you.

From the time she wakes up to the time to the time she walks into her office it would be 100% English.

This is a block of time from 6am to 9am, and this is her dedicated time to just focus on English.

The routine could look something like this and you can start to see how this could work for you too:

  • 6am: Wake up and try to set your alarm to a song in English. Put your Echo or other hands free device to English so you ask for a “daily news briefing” and it plays it in English to kick things off.
  • Inner dialogue: Truthfully there is a voice in everyone’s head- and it narrates what’s happening. Make that voice speak English during this block of time.
  • Other people at home: Whether it’s spouse, kids, a roommate or whoever else- if you can get them to speak English only that would be amazing. If not tell them what you’re doing, and see if they can support you.
  • Try a speaking lesson in between: This student placed a speaking lesson on Skype right in the middle of the morning. So from 7:30-8am she’d speak English with a native on Skype- and this worked perfectly!
  • Then it’s time to go to work- what are you going to listen to/read to keep the momentum going? Try to look at English newspapers, magazines, podcasts only even if it’s a challenge.
  • While you’re on the train: When you see video or print ads translate them into English in your head.
  • If you hear people talking on the train: Listen carefully and try to translate what they are saying into English in your head.
  • As you walk to work and prepare for the day: Any thoughts or preparation in your head should be done in English only.
  • Arrival at work at 9am: You walk into work for that 9:30 conference call in English and YOU ARE READY!

This is just a sample schedule, but use it to help you to visualize and gain ideas for how you could do this in your own life.

Take a part of your day or a block of time and make it your own so that you are completely English thinking and speaking during that time frame.

This will help you to become like a native speaker in a really effective and obtainable way.

Takeaway

The way to think in English IS TO THINK IN ENGLISH, but to do it when the pressure is off.

However this requires you to make a bold commitment to really make it effective.

It’s not going to be convenient, but if we want to make real progress it will never be EASY.

It really works, but you have to give it enough time and effort to truly commit to it.

Try it and see what you accomplish in just one hour a day.

Check out another episode with our guest Shayna from Espresso English about how to think in English here.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.