1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. Learning language


Learning language

Hi I would like to ask the polyglots out there, when learning several language do you read the words and translate into your base language to understand in your head or do you understand it directly?

My base language is english and I have a hard time with speed of understanding and reading as I have to translate it to english in my head. Maybe I just need more practice

June 20, 2017



My mother tongue is Slovene, my first foreign language is English and I also know German on a B level. I have started learning English in preschool (and am just finishing high school, which makes it more than 13 years of learning) and have been listening to shows, movies, videos... in it for so long now that words, phrases and sentence structures just feel natural. It is actually hard sometimes to translate the words from one language to another, because of the different emotions associated with them.

For example: the Slovene translation of the word "amazing" is "neverjetno". In English the word is associated with positive filings, excitement, wherese in Slovene it implies disbelief. In English you can use it as an exclamation, in Slovene you cannot, therefore you have to make up something to translate the feelings corectly.

I hope this answers your question.


Translation is common when you start. Eventually, you'll switch to understanding it directly, if you practice enough. I can now read Spanish novels (my main focus second language) with very little use of a dictionary. I know I'm missing some of the nuances and writing style features of the books I read, but I understand the story line and most of the emotions being expressed. But it will take LOTS of practice.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.