Thinking In A Foreign Language: 10 Most Effective Tips

A language learner knows how hard it is to translate a sentence in their head before saying it out loud. This inner struggle makes it difficult for them to function properly. There are a few reasons why thinking in a non-native language is difficult.


For starters, we think in our native language. That’s how it’s always been. Also, inadequate vocabulary makes it harder to form a logical sentence in your head.

No matter the obstacles, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind; sheer effort always pays off.

That said, here are 10 most effective tips to help you think better in a foreign language. Practice them daily and you will start thinking in a non-native language in no time.

1. Ditch the Translating Part

This is a crucial starting point. When you’re thinking of a particular sentence, try not to translate it word by word before saying something. This is a common mistake many beginners make. When you’re translating something in your mind only to translate it back to the foreign language, it sounds ridiculous.

This sort of practice is highly ineffective. It’s important to note that the logical flow of words in one language doesn’t sound similar in a different language.

When you are thinking of something, consider the key elements of that sentence: subject and verb. This way, building a proper structure on that foundation will be easier for you.

2. Pair-Learning

Generally, a foreign language is taught through logical stories and texts, and for good reason. Turns out, learning the words is more convenient when you put them into context and connect them with other words. For example, if you’re trying to learn the word “night” in a different language, you should learn some additional words that usually go with it, e.g., good or late.

You can also pair the word with opposites and look up a few synonyms. This is an effective strategy to boost your vocabulary.

3. Grammar Is Important

Vocabulary is essential when thinking in a foreign language. Similarly, the grammatical rules play a significant part in your language-learning journey.

You cannot simply start thinking in a foreign language if you don’t already know the basics of its grammar. Put the grammar rules into practice every day and always pay attention to your progress. However, try not to cram the rules. Instead, apply them in your speech.

4. Learn Phrases

Learning the idioms and phrases will make you a natural in any foreign language. Try infusing them in the same manner you think and speak. You will find these phrases in almost every article you read online, so take notes and use them appropriately.

5. A Descriptive Dictionary Will Help

We normally use dictionaries that translate words into our native language. Instead, you should opt for a descriptive dictionary that provides interpretations and lets you understand the words contextually. Memorizing the words you have learned is much easier using this tactic.

6. Communicate With the Natives

When you’re engaged in a conversation with a native speaker, it will let your thoughts flow naturally. This means you will ultimately stop stressing your brain with constant translating.

Try to connect with some natives to help you improve your language-learning. If you cannot afford to travel there, that’s okay. Use the internet to make foreign friends. There are tons of chatrooms and social media sites that allow you to make friends anywhere. For example, you can join a Facebook group where language learners like yourself are communicating with each other 24/7. It’s the best way to seek motivation when needed.

7. Use Mobile Apps

Language-learning apps like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo can help you improve your thinking ability in a foreign language. You can further use the Evernote app to take notes of your daily progress and whatnot.

We use our smartphones every few hours. Therefore, using these apps as a language-learning tool will allow you to start thinking in that language more often.

8. Practice Writing

The more you write, the more you learn. Writing helps you keep track of everything, from the progress to the errors you’ve made so far.

Also, try to incorporate proper grammar in your writing. This will turn you into a natural speaker.

9. Name Everything Around You

Give names to things around you in the language you are learning to help you become a pro learner.

“Oh, here is a book. Now I am going to read it.”

“There is my friend Lily, who is a nurse.”

Think of random things in your preferred foreign language. With time, everything will start to flow naturally.

10. Speak and Listen

This is the ultimate strategy that will lead you to perfection.

Make speaking and listening a daily practice. Listen to music and audiobooks in that foreign language. Talk to a person regarding the impressions. Alternatively, you can record your own speech and try listening to it over and over. This way, you will identify the subtle hints of progress.


Thinking in a foreign language is not easy. The journey is fairly complex and demands your focus on small details, including thoughts. Consider including the tips listed above in your daily practice, and you will soon discover progress in your thinking ability in a non-native language.


Author Bio: Tobias Foster is a journalist and editor at assignment writing service, UK with over 5 years of experience. He has a great passion for Business, Marketing, and Philosophy, and boasts a wealth of knowledge in those fields. Foster is a master of his craft.