How do I start thinking in Italian?
This is one of the questions Italian learners sooner or later will ask themselves.
Indeed, if you’re or have been a language learner, you have surely noticed that thinking directly in another language can be pretty difficult, especially in the beginning.
The most natural and common practice, in fact, is that of translating sentences from your native language to the language you’re learning, not thinking directly in another language.
So, how do you start thinking in Italian?
Here are some steps that can help you start thinking in Italian.
1. Learn words in context
This seems a pretty banal advice but learning words in context makes it easier for you to memorize new words and also whole new sentences and expressions. And, with time, this will help you speak Italian more fluently, both in your head and with others.
Give it a try. It works!
Non mi sento bene. Ho mal di testa e mi piange il naso. Mi sa che sto covando l’influenza.
I don’t feel well. I’ve got a headache and my nose is running. I think I’m coming down with the flu.
It’s usually much easier to learn the expressions piangere il naso and covare qualcosa in context than when they appear, for example, in a list.
2. Keep improving your grammar
Yes, I know, Italian grammar can be difficult but mastering it can help you talk – and consequently think – in Italian without worrying too much about grammar rules, because in the end using Italian grammar correctly will come natural to you. So, make sure to practice every single day.
3. Talk with native speakers
Talking with native speakers allows you to make a lot of practice. It’s the perfect way to practice both vocabulary and grammar while having fun. Moreover, while talking to friends you’re usually relaxed and this will help your brain to stop thinking too much and to stop translating everything from your native language into Italian.
If twenty years ago it was difficult to find a native Italian speaker near you, nowadays everything is easier. Indeed, thanks to video conferencing tools and to social networks it’s definitely easier to find native Italians eager to help you improve your Italian – usually they ask you to teach them your native language in exchange. So, no more excuses.
4. Listen and read a lot
Listening and reading a lot will help you memorize new Italian words and sentences without even realizing it. This is something that helped me a lot. After some time, I didn’t even have to ask myself “how do I say that in English?” because I already knew the answer, whitout even knowing how.
5. Start talking to yourself
This is something I do regularly to improve my English and I find it helpful. Start talking to yourself, in your head or out loud, tell yourself what you’re going to do today, what you have done today, why you didn’t like the movie you watched yesterday night, while the driver in front of you should go to hell…whatever you like. This will allow you to make some practice and, with time, it will force your brain to think directly in Italian, instead of translating everything into Italian.
When did you start thinking in Italian? What worked for you and what didn’t?
Original image by lukasbieri