In my previous blog post, I wrote about how training your mind to think in English will enhance your English-speaking proficiency. I shared how I achieved this by engaging in regular conversations with my English-speaking partner.
Unlike writing, where you typically have the time to translate your thoughts from your native language into English, when you speak, you must deliver what you want to say immediately. That is why it can be so difficult to acquire speaking skills in a new language.
In today’s post, I would like to share another method I have been using to cultivate my ability to think in English. This technique is beneficial because it can be used to practice almost any time without a partner to help you. It's also a powerful tool for improving grammar and expanding vocabulary in a variety of subjects.
In this method, you will create a variety of sentences by using the environment around you. This will provide you with endless opportunities to master thinking in English. Basically, what you do in this technique is create content from what you see around you and then verify that you don't have any mistakes.
To start, simply look around and scan your surroundings for about 15 to 30 seconds, and then, in your head, describe everything you see. Try to do it in as much detail as possible, and be sure you're not using your native language as a "bridge" to English.
Here is an example of a session I had while waiting at the train station:
A man is rolling a brown, mid-sized suitcase along the train dock. He is wearing a white shirt with buttons and blue jeans. The train is now arriving at the station. The train doors open automatically, and the people on the dock are waiting to get in while the people on the train are getting out.
Try to use different tenses. For example:
It seems like the clerk at the counter has been working there for a long time.
As you practice, force yourself to complete the activity as if you were doing it in your native language. Don’t limit yourself to the words you are already familiar with. Push yourself to reach beyond your comfort zone. If you don’t know a specific term, use your phone to look it up on Google and continue practicing.
Once you're finished, write it all down in your notebook application. Then review it to see if there are any grammar or vocabulary errors. If you're uncertain, copy-paste what you wrote into one of the online grammar checkers, such as Grammarly, so you can correct any mistakes.
Try to practice using this method at least three times a day, and I personally suggest more frequently if you can. For even better success, try this method at different locations to expose you to a variety of scenarios.
At first, this might be challenging. But hang in there and before long you will notice a significant improvement in your ability to quickly come up with words and phrases without the need to translate them from your native language. Instead, you will be thinking in English! And the words would just come out of your mouth fluently.
To summarize, these are the key points:
1. Scan your surroundings.
2. Describe what you see in great detail.
3. Try different tenses.
4. Look up words you do not know.
5. Practice at least three times a day.
Please let me know in the comments if you found this technique helpful, and if you have any other ideas for improving your speaking skills, I’d love to hear from you.
Amir Herskowitz, Co-founder of Lingos