tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sat Jun 15 12:48:00 2002

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Re: Translating vs. Thinking

> > >I'm no expert in languages, but trying to THINK IN the new language
> > >rather than TRANSLATE TO the new language is always the better
>approach > >for true understanding.
> >
> > While this is true, I don't think it is a helpful piece of advice for
>beginners. They > definitely have to start by translating to Klingon (or
>any language). Thinking in > comes when you're good at a language. How do
>you get good? By practicing. > How do you practice? By translating your 
>I disagree.  Translating your ideas is a poor way to practice, because it
>encourages you to think in your own language.  Much better is to examine
>the available vocabulary and grammatical structures in the new language and
>see what sentences those inspire.  That is the beginning of thinking in the
>new language.  Once you are thinking in the new language, even the most
>limited thoughts, that is the greatest inspiration to learn more, because
>you have a LIMITER on your THOUGHTS, that limiter being your control of the
>language.  That drives you to expand your control.
>Practice from inside the language, not from outside.

If I remember correctly, Steve Krashen proposed a theory of language 
learning similar to this; where students were not supposed to use the 
language until they were confortable with it, until they could think in it.  
And it does work, but it's extremely slow.  I doubt most people have to 
patience to wait until they can think in the language; it takes so long for 
them to be able to think anything they actually want to communicate that (in 
my experience) this limiter on thoughts acts more as a discouragement than 
an inspiration.

But then again, perhaps you think that people who give up so easily 
shouldn't be learning Klingon; I don't know.

Anyway, my minor was in language pedagogy (French teaching, to be exact, but 
the teaching classes were pretty much the same for all the languages) and I 
had a job teaching Finnish for two years.  My experience has shown me that 
the best way for someone to get comfortable with a language is for them to 
use it.  And most people simply don't have the patience to wait until they 
can think in a language to use it.

A disclaimer:  my experience and education is geared toward teaching 
Americans between the ages of 14 and 22 (secondary and post-secondary 
education); perhaps other groups of students *do* have such patience; mine 
certainly didn't.

When I was living in Finland, I certainly didn't wait until I could think a 
thought in Finnish before attempting to express that thought; if I had 
simply kept my mouth shut until I could think what I wanted to say before 
saying it, I probably would never have opened it except to eat.  It was 
attempting to say what I didn't know how to say that resulted in the 
feedback that taught me how to say it.

So my advice is: Speak.  Try your hardest.  If you make a mistake, someone 
will correct it.  That's why we have a BG.

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