https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I can think in French now! :-D

I had a really weird experience last night. Really weird. I was chatting with some friends, and I said something in French. I made a really dumb mistake, so I corrected myself, and explained the correction. Then I called myself an idiot in French, which I fully deserved. :-D My friend said, in French, that I'm not an idiot, which isn't true. :-D I made a small correction. She asked what I meant by what I said, and I started to type a reply. At this point, I realised that I was typing my answer in French. Unintentionally. And I could not for the life of me think of the English. So I tried to explain it. But I could not think of any English. I could understand English if it wasn't too complicated, but I couldn't produce any myself. Everything came out in French. I was thinking in French. I didn't even understand everything I thought, and it wasn't all necessarily good French, but it was French. And I couldn't get it back to English! I tried and tried, but it didn't work. I eventually gave up and went to bed. :-) This morning, when I woke up, my brain was back in English again (for which I am very thankful).

OK, I know other people dream in languages other than their native ones, and can think in those other languages as well. But is it normal to have your brain go to another language and stick there, and have it be impossible to bring it back when I want to? Does it happen to anyone else?

And Happy Mother's Day!

March 6, 2016

88 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lexi_Paloma

Title: "I can think in French now!" Topic: Troubleshooting! :D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

scratches head Not sure how that happened... I must have misclicked while choosing forum. Thanks for pointing it out! :-) And my brain certainly does need troubleshooting when it sticks in one language and I want another! :-P

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Lexi_Paloma

Can you sing "Аист на крыше" in French? :D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I haven't tried. :-D After all, I don't completely understand it, and I'd need to not only translate it, but make it fit the tune... :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Где это было, когда это было, в детстве а может во сне....

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

You have no idea what you just got yourself into, but you asked for it... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKl1djL7rdI

Edit: And the lyrics, English and Russian. http://lyricstranslate.com/en/aist-na-kryshe-aist-na-kryshe-stork-roof.html

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EnthusedFlower

Cigogne sur le toit?? I would like to hear the song. Do you have a link to the original song in the language you spoke above?

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Oui, exactement. Ici. En la langue russe. :-) Voulez-vous les lyriques ?

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Zzzzz...

It has happened to me a couple of times late in the evening after an exam. If I have been studying hard for, say, a Swedish exam and am tired in the evening after the exam, I "get stuck". I remember one time my mother called me to ask me how an Italian exam had gone and I managed to give her only one-word sentences as answers to her questions because my brain was working in Italian. It felt like my mother tongue was a foreign language.

For some strange reason this also sometimes happens to me when I have had a drink or two. :D I do not like alcohol and do not drink that often. Perhaps I should drink more often just for the sake of language learning. :)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Exactly. I could speak about as much English as I do Shona. Only I could understand most of it, which I can't with a foreign language. It's just weird. :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Spyrunner

I once tried to practice on Duolingo after a few drinks. I felt like I was making more mistakes than I would normally have, and it felt like it was hurting my progress. I couldn't think of words that I knew I knew. Now I make sure I have done all my studying before drinking a beer.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EnthusedFlower

Yip, beer would do that to you - stick to really good coffee!

March 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Shadow_Moonrise

LOL

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Robloxian_Kitten

I smiled when I read this. Thanks for sharing. :)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

:-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Robloxian_Kitten

Whoa... How did my comment get 3 up votes already? I must up vote my own comment too. :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Because it's a good comment, of course! :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Robloxian_Kitten

Thanks!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

Your profile says you made your profile picture yourself. Do you mean you drew, colored it and did everything else from scratch? If so, that's pretty impressive.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ea2329

Yeah me too!!! lol.

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward

Not exactly the same thing, but once upon a time, many moons ago, I had the opportunity to do a study abroad summer semester in México. I was relaxing in my room, day dreaming about stuff that had been happening, things that were going to happen... you know, just hanging out alone with my thoughts. Which were all in Spanish because I'd been there a while and everything I was remembering and anticipating had happened in Spanish, so that was just the natural way to think about them.

And then something reminded me of an experience back home in the USA which had happened in English, and the moment I began to recall the older experience my train of thought got derailed in a big way. It's like someone threw a bucket of water on me and I was suddenly sitting there, confused and disoriented, with no context.

It took me a moment or two to realize what had happened.

I'm glad you got your English brain back. :)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I wish I could do that. But I can't yet, at least not intentionally. After this, I'm not going to try and guess what I can do unintentionally. :-D

Strange how you couldn't continue your thoughts in English. It didn't throw me off at all when I switched into French. I don't know about when I switched back again, though, since I was asleep at the time. :-)

So am I! :-D It would be really hard to communicate with most of the people in my area if I couldn't speak English! :-D This makes me contemplate trying to write a book where the main character gets stuck like this and can't switch back, and their resulting adventures....

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

Congratulations! That's a huge leap forward. The goal of every language learner is to think in that language to avoid the taxing of translation in your head. Once you accomplish that, everything will come in place for you really fast. So again, congrats.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Unless they want to be translators, I suppose. :-) Or do they want to be able to think in two languages simultaneously for that? And thank you! :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/chirelchirel

It's different. At least for me. When I translate novels or short stories, I need to make sure I produce good Finnish language, so I wouldn't be able to think in two different languages simultaneously. I'd only produce some kind of mongerel language that way. Though, the first draft, is often just that. When I start to improve the translation, sometimes I get a sort of echo in Finnish in my head when I read something I'm going to translate. That is, if the text is fairly easy. So in a way I'm thinking simultaneously, but there's a bit of delay, too. If the text is harder, I want to fully immerse in it in the original language and be able to feel and sense the meaning and then in my mind I reach out for a good expression in Finnish or I start to mould it and shape it, until it feels the same.

Interpreters probably need a much more direct access from one language to the other.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/XD29
  • 1446

I usually think in either German or English, and can switch back and forth just fine. It was only once that I had difficulties speaking German when I arrived at the airport in Germany after a long stay in the US.

Also I force myself to think a little bit every day in the other languages that I am studying, which helps me a lot with learning, but I have to concentrate very much doing this and this thinking just doesn't feel natural. My brain is always relieved when I allow my thoughts to get back to German / English.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Lily20150818

I wish I could have the same feeling either, that's amazing. I'm still a beginner in French, but I'm working on it. :)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Bea24601

I feel the same way!

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

Да, иногда я могу думать только по-русски... )))

I did have an odd experience where I was mentally writing out a response to someone else before putting pen to paper (OK, finger to keyboard) and suddenly realized that I was writing it in Russian.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

И это заставляет меня ревновать вас. :-P

I have written parts of emails in French before without even thinking about it, but that was without thinking, not thinking in French. And usually only something small like "oui", "non", "et", "est", etc. I also have a fondness for using French names of numbers (unintentionally) and driving my co-workers crazy. :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Owen_E

You're lucky in a way. I have been told many times, "that when you can think in a language, you have begun mastering it" I wish I could think in Spanish and English haha. Cheers

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I suppose I am. Though there are certain disadvantages to only being able to communicate in one language which most of the people I know don't speak. :-D I may have begun to master French, but I certainly still have a long way to go, as anybody who has seen (or heard, which is worse) me try to speak it can tell you. But I now have even greater hopes of achieving my dream of fluency. :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Spyrunner

Thanks for sharing.

I recently watched a YouTube video on the same subject. Check it out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIgC6q3jJGo

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Nice! Thanks for the link! :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/het_aapje

It's only the beginning :P Now I don't only think in French but I also dream and say things by accident in French XD

As for your last question, I'd say that you can bring it back whenever you want to :)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

You mean I'm going to lose my ability to speak my native language at this rate? :-P I've definitely said things in French by accident. Ask anybody who knows me. :-D I don't think I've ever dreamed in French, but I don't remember most of my dreams, so I might have without knowing it. :-D

Well, that's what I'd have thought too, but I tried last night and couldn't.... :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/het_aapje

Maybe it's easier as it becomes more natural for you, I've been stuck in "French mode" before haha :P

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Perhaps. :-P

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/chirelchirel

I don't think this has happened to me, but it might be because I started to think in English when I was only 10 or 11. Of course at first, I could only think very simple thoughts, but it helped me figure out my limits and motivated me to learn the everyday things I couldn't think yet. Now I think in English very often, I even plan my stories in English, even though I write in Finnish. Often I don't even realise I'm thinking in English and it's so automatic that when I started to relearn Swedish and decided to do the same, I'd always switch back to English without even realising it. I think it was this week when I finally noticed I'm thinking in Swedish and not switching to English. But I can always switch to Finnish when I want to.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I'm jealous of you too! :-D I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before I can think in yet another language. I'm also jealous of you for being able to write stories in any language. :-) That's weird about the switching. Maybe you have a better brain. :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/chirelchirel

Maybe I've just practised switching more? I did read three languages in school by the age of 13 and picked up yet another one when I was 16. I mean, on top of Finnish. (And then forgot most of them…)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Perhaps. Switching languages is certainly not something my brain is used to!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/LangAddict

It actually happened to me on numerous occasions and it's a REALLY GOOD thing.

I first experienced this it in English and my English teacher told me that the moment that it happens to you, you begin to enter a transitional zone between your current level and fluency... or something along those lines (it was a long time ago). Think of it as an evolution that you go through :-P

I don't know about you, but for me it was a truly amazing experience. I literally couldn't say the word "carpet" in Romanian, no matter how much I tried to find it, I knew what it was (obviously) and I knew its English counterpart, but beyond that... nope, my brain wasn't processing.

So, enjoy this moment of evolution, and the ones that will follow because they are incredible for a language enthusiast. Also, have a lingot for making me remember all this :-P

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Dimidov

Told you a good night's sleep would reset your language preferences. Soft resets are better than hard reboots, anyway.

I've had the exact opposite happen to me once. I was over in America for a training, and I'd been there for more than two weeks and my English just failed me. All I could think or say in English was "Whatever" and "(A specific four-letter expletive that starts with an 'F')". Basically, my brain went home without me, as the rest of the produced sounds were all in my regional dialect of Dutch. Was too exhausted to even speak proper Dutch. snerks

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EpicPowerHero

That is really weird. Do you want it to happen again?

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Not exactly the same way. I want to be able to think in French again, but I also want to be able to go back to English again when talking to people who don't speak French! :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EpicPowerHero

I understand :) XD

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/widle

No, it's never happened to me, at least not that severely. Several times I accidentally switched from my native language to another (well, to English, I can't really speak any other). Several times I "lost" a basic word or a phrase momentarily, with its English equivalent offering itself instead. But I don't remember such a complete switch.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I've done that quite a few times, where I wrote a couple sentences, once even about a paragraph and a half, in French, completely unintentionally. But I wasn't thinking in French while doing it. And I say "oui" et "non" all the time instead of "yes" and "no", just because it was the first word with that meaning which came to mind. It's never been anything like this before, though.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot

I have not had something like this happen to me yet, but I have understood something that I didn't think about being Spanish until I walked away from it. XD I do wish to be able to understand more Spanish, but not I'm not quite there yet.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I've done that occasionally as well. Sometimes I wonder how many times I've read something in French and never realised that it was French. We'll never know that one, I guess. :-D You'll get there. I never thought I would be able to speak enough French to communicate anything if my brain did this to me, but here I am!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

That's amazing. Do you learn french anywhere else beside on duo?

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I have some French friends I talk to (well, email), and I read other grammar sources. I also read some books in French, mostly children's books at this point. I actually haven't done much on my French tree recently, and I'm not even close to done with it. Most of my French these days comes from reading everything Sitesurf writes. :-D Doing that, I learn as much in a week or two as I would from a month without her. So if there's anyone out there who needs help with grammar, I strongly advise you to follow Sitesurf if you aren't already and make sure to read all her explanations. They are exceedingly helpful.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageButcher

But did you have a lot of french experience before Duo? Were you able to say a lot more than just bonjour, ca va, au revoir before Duo?

How did you find everything Sitesurf wrote? Her stream? How did you know Sitesurf is "her"? :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Well, I studied it in school, many years ago. I forgot everything except numbers. Those stuck for some reason. But when I started Duo that was all I remembered. That may have made things a bit easier to some extent, but I'm much farther now than I ever was before.

Yes, on her stream. I go on there and open every single discussion she comments on and read what she has to say. I'll skip the ones in French a lot of the time, but sometimes I'll read them to make sure she isn't teaching bad English and to practice my French comprehension. :-) As for how I know she's "her", there's a few things. For one thing, French adjectives can make it easy to tell sometimes. :-) Also, I've seen a lot of people who knew in one way or another talk about "her", and a couple discussions we had gave me the clues to figure it out without those. :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/JoThelan

Yay, you got unstuck! You had me a bit worried there for a moment!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I did! :-D It was good practice for you as well, though, trying to talk to me! :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/JoThelan

A little practice never hurt anyone!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Nope! :-)

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/CodyORB

I can also think in Spanish and Irish too :D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Daracorrr101

I'm Irish and have been learning Irish in school for 12 and a half years and I can't think in Irish. I always found it really hard however but I'm learning a lot of Irish the last few years

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

I'm jealous. :-D To be able to think in two languages is great, but three is just unfair! :-D

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia

WOW!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

I can add another strange experience, not quite the same thing but along similar lines, that happened a few weeks ago. I was listening to a song in Russian, and my brain for quite a while completely failed to register that it was in a foreign language.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Daracorrr101

Sometimes I'll be with my friends in school and when I try to describe sometime I completely forget the English word for it and I can only think of the French. Also last week I was talking to my parents and I ended up inserting "avec" into an English sentence by complete accident because I was tired.

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/salve04

Thats good

March 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EPKsweetiePie

I have never had it happen to me. But that was a funny story!!!!!

March 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/RosanneFont

that's Awesome!

March 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/aller2026

I did get stuck once in French, after spending all day studying French here and elsewhere. So, I stopped and thought I would watch a little TV and then go to bed. Couldn't understand what was being said on television and it just made my head ache to try. I was thinking and talking in French. Went to bed, woke up normal thinking and talking in English. Now I flip back and forth without thinking, sometimes my sentences are half French, half English. That is frustrating but I believe I'll get better at it with time. Maybe it's just part of the learning process. :-)

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EnthusedFlower

Ja, I really should have stuck with "Christmas" and "Idioms" and not spent 30 lingots on Flirting! Those lines hit my train of thought at the weirdest of times. I have said "Salut, beauté" to my dog, "Voulez-vous danser avec moi?" pops up in a queue, and this one comes to mind with hot potato chips "Il fait chaud ici, ou bien c'est toi?" But this one, I don't mind, because it's beautiful: "J'aimerais vivre dans tes chaussures pour être avec toi à chacun de tes pas"

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Eleonora188

I know what you mean! I always think in Italian now, and whenever my mom calls and I suddenly have to speak Dutch, I think in Italian and then translate it to Dutch, so I end up with weird sentences translated almost literally from Italian. It usually takes a few days of being around native speakers for my brain to switch back completely :S

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Grau_Wolf

My mom while learning French would dream in French all the time and I have heard of a "disorder" where if you are over immersing yourself in a language you can end up forgetting your native tongue and only know the language you are learning. But this usually takes being in a country where they only speak the language you are learning and a good knock to the head :P

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ALTUOR

I use a lot of English at my work (it's not my native language at all) and I have to turn it off when I call it a day. It's interesting to note that when you're learning a new language for the first time, you tend to translate pretty much everything in your head before speaking. I clearly remember doing this when I was learning English, but I don't remember when I started thinking in it. I kinda wish I did.

The good thing is that after learning a second language, the third one (and so on) gets a lot easier! And most importantly: I don't translate stuff in my head now that I've been studying French, which is awesome! I can say I think in French (according to the little I know). I saw you're studying a lot of languages and I find your attitude commendable! Never stop being curious! What I truly admire is a person who can speak more than one language. I've been optimistic because I'll be proud of myself for being able to speak some languages. :-D

March 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/A_User

Oh, before I forget again, since I already forgot once. Happy Mother's Day!

March 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Original_Crazy

That is weird

March 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/JJPAUL0

bro that's show freaking awesome congrats you are now a french major. lol

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mariecowgill

Congrats. I look forward to when this happens to me! Although, when I lived in Lyon I had dreams where the conversation switched from French, and then to German, and if I didn't know the words in either of those languages it swapped back to my mother tongue of English. I would wake up still tired because my brain was working all night. Now I can only speak English but it shows my brain really was trying! haha

March 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Selma-Ibrahim

YES! Sometimes, when I'm speaking in English and trying to switch back to Arabic mode, my brain literally goes blank . . . it's so weird!

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ea2329

Yes its completely normal!! I can't wait for my french thinking!! :-)

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jesswarren._

wow well done good job

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jesswarren._

it gave me a giggle from the heart

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jasminexxo

I am wetting myself with laughter hehehehe

March 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Juliette2024

Cool, I wish my brain would do that. It would confuse my family so much. :)

November 22, 2018
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