Hi All,

I'm Daniel an ESL Teacher in India. Thinking in English is something that I'm trying to get my students understand. Teachers with experience or scholars or some one who has knowledge about this can help me out please.

In the place I teach people are false beginners and are highly interested in learning English however I will have to convince the school to help me introduce this aspect of thinking in English.

How do you as an ESL or EFL teacher get your students to think in English what kind of exercises do you conduct for your students?

Please let me know what ever can be useful for me to talk about his topic...

Many Thanks in advance

1 2
danyboyIn the place I teach people are false beginners
I don't understand "false beginner." Do you mean they already have some English?

Teaching older people to think in English is very difficult. Babies have no native language, so it is by repeated association of verbal cues with objects and actions (cup, mama, milk) and a developing language center in the brain that language skills are acquired. At that time, multiple languages can be taught, and the child will grow up perfectly bilingual.

I have been in immersion classes for foreign languages, where meditation, music and other means are used to infuse a language directly into the brain, but it did not result in thinking in that language.
AlpheccaStarsI don't understand "false beginner."
It was commonly used when I worked in TEFL. A false beginner is one who has acquired some knowledge of a language in the past, but who has forgotten it, or lacks all confidence. They start (re-) learning the language from the very beginning, but often make progress far faster than a true beginner.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
danyboyPlease let me know what ever can be useful for me to talk about his topic...
As AS suggested, teaching older people to think in a foreign language is very difficult. It is something that few learners successfully manage unless they have spent some time living/work in countries where the language is spoken.

Some of the things you might do to encourage people to cut down thinking in L1 include: conducting lessons exclusively in L2, devising speaking practice exercises that can easily elicit natural utterances, using drills, avoiding all attempts to translate into L1, t rying to get learners to use the language rather than talk about it, avoiding detailed formal explanation of grammar.
That's right False beginner is some one who has some knowledge of English but they can't think in English at all... or let me put it like this they can't comprehend or understand some forms of the language....

Eg: In a questionaire....

1. I hope it doesn't rain
a. I'm sure it doesn't
b. So do I
c. well, it may be wet there

The answer I got for this is "C" but the ans is So do I....

2. Could you tell me your surname please?
a. Would you like me to spell it ?
b. Do you like my family name?
c. How do I say that?

The answer I got is b & C I never got one person giving me option A at all....

How would I deal with such a situation, I'm getting a feeling this is a culture problem... Correct me if I'm wrong and give me some ideas to deal with such situations

danyboyHow would I deal with such a situation, I'm getting a feeling this is a culture problem.
I'm sorry, but I don't see what the incorrect answers in your last post have to do with either false beginners or thinking in English.
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danyboyThinking in English
My personal experience is that I have to think in the target language when it's moving so fast I have no time to translate. So what has worked for me is listening to the language spoken by native speakers, as in television broadcasts. Television programs that tell a story are easier than television or radio broadcasts of news because with stories on television you have visual cues to help your understanding. Nevertheless, listening to news that you've already heard in your own language is often a good exercise. Later you can try to listen to news that is completely new to you. Many movies have so little dialog that they are worthless for learning a language. The same is true for variety shows that are almost all singing and dancing. At least that's what I've found. There are probably dozens of audio packages available that are especially designed as graded listening exercises in English.

For me, listening always comes before speaking. I have to have heard an expression quite a few times in different contexts and rehearsed saying it many times before I can use it correctly in a conversation. As every student does, I do learn individual words by memorizing them, at least in the first stages. In doing so, I try very hard to associate the word with an image of the real-world thing, and I try very hard not to associate the new word to the word in my own language. So associating "niños" (Spanish) with images of children playing is much more effective than associating it with the word "children". This is why vocabulary tests of the type where students give one word for another are a total disaster. They work against "thinking in the language". In fact all translation exercises are a disaster for thinking in another language. Translation is a very specialized skill and should be addressed long after the student has begun to master the new language.

While single words are needed, I often find it more helpful to work with word groups instead, learning whole phrases that can be pulled up as a single unit when needed. (I don't know if ...; What's the difference between ...?; as usual; whenever you want; Could you please ...?; I never would have thought that ...; Why should I have to ...?; There's no reason why ...; Just because ... doesn't mean that ....) There are hundreds of these "chunks" of dialog and each has to be repeated hundreds of times, until they can be said quickly without thinking. Sometimes "Thinking in English" (or any language) is really "Not thinking at all".

Another thing that's related to rehearsing word chunks over and over is rehearsing verb forms, saying them aloud again and again, especially forms of the irregular verbs. I would not do this with single words but with whole short sentences. ("I am ready; I was ready; I will be ready; I would be ready; I have been ready; I had been ready"; "Bob knows how to do that; Bob knew how to do that; Bob will know how to do that"; etc.) Here the student is encouraged to concentrate on the changes in the time reference at the same time he is learning to make certain sound patterns automatic.

It's also helpful to take time to spend as much time as possible telling yourself in the foreign language, out loud if possible, as exactly as you can, what you are doing, what you are experiencing, what you are thinking. "I'm on the bus. I'm going to work. It will take an hour to get to work. The bus stops at three places. ..." Or, "I'm sweeping the floor. I'm using an old broom. I have had this broom for years. After this, I'm going to have lunch. ..." Or, "I have walked here from home. It's a lovely park. I have spent a lot of time in this beautiful place. There are not many people here now. It's nice and quiet. ..." This is not necessarily a high priority activity, however. It works for some students, not for others.

Another thing that helps me is to have long periods of time where I hardly deal with grammar at all. During those times I use a grammar book or a dictionary only as a research tool, as reference books for emergencies. Besides listening, I try to read books without any reference to grammar books or dictionaries, as fast as possible, never stopping to work out the meaning of a passage that I have not completely understood. Usually things become clear if I just keep reading. Often the grammatical analysis of sentences is counter-productive. It can result in analysis paralysis. Some students become more interested in the grammatical system than they do in developing any fluency. Maybe subconsciously they think they'll never become fluent, or maybe they dislike the repetitive work necessary for fluency, so they stall by gaining useless information about grammar as if they were going to become linguists some day. They need a logical reason for every phrase and clause, as if language were some kind of mathematical system. If "thinking in English" is the goal, all this over-analytical work has got to be minimized and discouraged.

In my opinion, the only way to think in a foreign language is to force yourself, even if the forcing is simulated in a classroom or at home. There has to be a situation that the student confronts in which he has no choice, no time, to do anything but think in the new language.


When I'm trying to think up answers, I do sometimes think in French, at which I'm useless. C'est ne pas magnifique mais c'est l'instruction, peut-être

Actually, a year ago or so, I posted a query on a French language website and got a really shirty response. I was just being the less able speaker and it was interesting to see what the response feels like

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