How can I start to think in Spanish and stop translating word-for-word in my head? –
If you want to produce Spanish confidently, quickly and accurately, you need to learn how to start thinking in Spanish. And, how to avoid translating each and every word in your head from English to Spanish.
In this article, you’ll learn how to start developing your thinking in Spanish, how to view the problem, and how to reduce the need to translate word-for-word.
How to think about the problem
This was a major issue for me when I was learning Spanish. I found it really difficult to have conversations with Native spanish speaker because i was thinking in English and translating in Spanish. This made conversations long and difficult because I had to pause several times mid conversations.
There were some Spanish phrases i found quite difficult to understand
English: I have to go to the bank.
Español: Yo tengo que ir al banco.
Student question: why do we say ‘que’ since the Spanish word ‘a’ is ‘to’ in English?
Or another example:
English: Have you met María?
Español: ¿Conoces a María?
Question: why do we say ‘conoces’ which is present tense in Spanish when ‘have you met’ is the past tense in English? And why do we need the ‘a’?
For me, part of what makes learning Spanish so fun is the different ways English and Spanish address similar ideas.
To respond to these questions, I often start by saying that English and Spanish are different languages. And, Spanish learners will universally accept the idea that English and Spanish won’t have identical vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure.
But, they’ll still be frustrated by a lack of consistency, logic or simple rules we can apply in several situations.
Part of the problem is that there are many sentences in Spanish that we can translate exactly word-for-word.
Probably the most important step in the process of starting to think in Spanish is letting go of the need to find exact word-for-word translations.
I’ll admit this is easier said than done!
But, it starts by acknowledging that word-for-word translations don’t always exist.
And, getting accustomed to phrases that don’t translate well is a skill that you can improve. Instead of trying to push your understanding of an unusual Spanish phrase by searching for the best possible equivalent in English, remind yourself that English and Spanish are different languages and that a perfect word-for-word translation may not exist.
The language learning app that helped me improve my Spanish is called Busuu , It is one of the best language learning applications in the world. I recommend you check it out if you have interest in learning Spanish.