https://www.duolingo.com/Shino425069

How do I stop automatically translating German words to English in my head

Every time I see, hear, or even say a word in German, I can only understand what it means if I mentally translate it and tell myself what it means in English. If I skim through any piece of text written in German, I do not fully understand what it means, I tried reading a book in German and it obviously had some words I didn't know but it had enough words I knew to allow me to be able to understand what's going on. As I read it I soon realized that I had absolutely no clue what was going on, and I noticed I was reading words that I knew, and was supposed to know, but yet I didn't even "see" them.. It has become a big problem and it really diminishes my confidence tenfold, and if I could just get through this stupid phase I feel I'll be 10 steps closer to being a German speaking champ! If you have and tips, or having the same problem, please tell me how you are going to, or are currently, working your way around it. Danke.

May 27, 2017

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Azouras
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Time and practice is the answer. Eventually the concept associated with a word will come to you with no effort, but early on you will have to actively decipher the information.

I like to compare it with learning to read: at first, even figuring out what sound a letter corresponds to requires effort, as you progress you find that you might struggle to piece together the different letters into a string which corresponds to the word you're trying to read, and getting through a page can take an hour or more. But if you stick with it your reading comprehension skills improve steadily until you can scarcely look at a word without knowing what it says. Reading a book becomes a joy rather than a toil, as you can focus on the informational content rather than the means of delivering said information.

Everyone will have periods when they feel like they have plateaued and aren't getting anywhere. Learning takes time, and you have to be willing to let your brain digest the information you feed it. Sometimes this can lead to Eureka! moments when everything suddenly falls into place and it all makes sense. At other times one may have to remind oneself of the ground one has covered. Going over what one used to find hard can be a way to see how far one has actually progressed.

In my experience, the greater the mastery, the greater the innate reward; especially so with language learning, as it takes quite some time and effort before you can truly partake in the gifts that comes with knowing another language.

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Pat214197

Great answer, I have been studying Portugues for 4.5 years and can’t converse yet because I can’t understand what people are saying. It sounds like gibberish. Even after 14 trips to Brasil. Even if I understood I would have to translate everything in my head to English. When I read I never know which meaning to use for words with multiple meanings. I speak with a Brasilian every day for 1-3 hours and have for 16 months. I’m worried. My son can converse and he isn’t even studying Portuguese. He’s been to Brasil 5 times with me and has picked it up. That makes me think I’m doing something wrong. Thanks

January 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Gerardd88
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It's a really serious problem and it's very often neglected by most people. Learning to translate is one of the very harmful things they teach you in language classes at school — and one of the main reasons why people fail at learning languages. Some time ago, I wrote here a guide for learning vocabulary, and one of the main ideas I was trying to convey there was the no-translation rule — a thing that may be exactly the answer for your problem. You may try to start using the method of learning vocabulary I've suggested there. I believe it can change your mindset and perspective towards the things you're talking about in your post. You can read my guide here. It's pretty long but I hope you'll find a couple of really helpful ideas there. Viel Glück!

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/michelle4687
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Thank you Gerardd88!!! I followed the link to your comprehensive guide. A wealth of information which I am keeping handy as valuable reference. I started the Greek course yesterday. For this course I really feel like a baby learning to tackle the ABC for the very first time :))). It is on my "to do" list to read the book that you so highly recommended. Thank you for your admirable dedication and for sharing your knowledge. All the best! Question about giving lingots. What is the way on individual can give more than one lingot? I've used the option in the past (next to the reply link), but I think it's only prompts for confirmation related to one lingot.

May 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Gerardd88
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I rarely give huge numbers of lingots under comments (more than 20) so clicking enter 20 times was not a problem for me. There was a userscript though that let you type the number of lingots you want to give. But with the new website all the userscripts stopped working so you'll have to wait until someone writes such a script again for the new website.

May 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/michelle4687
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Thank you so much Gerardd.

May 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Pat214197

Great! I translate everything I read and everything that I hear that i can understand. It keeps me from understanding. There are only a few basic words that I don’t have to translate. Hello goodbye please thank you good morning and things like that so I was wondering if there was another way. I cant translate fast enough to converse if I learn to understand spoken Portuguese so it’s important to learn not to translate. Thanks

January 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Shino425069

Thank you all for your help, really. I really had no faith in gaining much from this single post but wow, it has helped me more than I EVER could have imagined. A very special thanks to geraddd88; I had an inkling that English translation from German words in my learning process was diminishing my ability to fully immerse my thought process in German but I didn't know how to go about it, but you have just solved my BIGGEST problem, thank you very much! I wish you good luck on your journeys, and keep helping people, they, and I, really appreciate it.

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/patfinegan
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You are far enough along that you should consider clicking on some of the older material and doing timed practices. The accelerated pace will subconsciously deter you from thinking through everything in English. Also, if there is a German bar or Meetup in your area, consider participating. I've been fluent in German for nearly 20 years but I think the mental migration to actually thinking in German was sparked by immersive, rapid-thinking situations, i.e., participating in live, non-structured conversational environments.

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Patricia822632

After completing a sentence and knowing what it says I will replay it and just listen. Then when I hit continue I close my eyes and listen to the next one before reading it. At first you won't get them. Takes a bit longer, but it's like making each one a listening excercise.

May 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Spooky_Noodle
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I have this problem as well, but with words I've known for longer times it's gone away. I think it's just a matter of practicing and memorization, as it is with any language you learn. The more you study, the easier it will get to automatically know what the words mean.

May 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Shino425069

wait what, so you can grow out of it? whilst not changing anything? with all that I've heard about this, it seemed to me that you just couldn't get passed this plateau. I literally put a huge halt on my language learning cause of this and I've been dearly missing it... It destroyed my confidence and belief that I will actually learn..

August 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Spooky_Noodle
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Yeah, at least for me it's gone away after a while. I'm not sure if it's the same for everyone, but it's taken several months for me.

September 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Shino425069

Yeah dude I've been noticing that is has been fading, I think the problem was that I was not speaking with many people in the language.

September 9, 2017
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