Allowing myself to forget

Hello all,

Recently I’ve been thinking how the language I’m aquirinng needs to be comprehended in the TL “only” within itself ( as obvious as this mind sound) and devoid of translations.

I’ve been saying to myself;

“I feel I need to allow myself to be confused within in the language and not think about what “can be” understood in the translation, but rather recognise what is not understood within the language itself. The translation is a hinderance to not being confused in the TL in it’s natural form.”


“If native children are confused by their language when they are learning it, then why wouldn’t I be?”

These are just a couple questions i’ve asked myself recently and I want to follow up this more in the near future. I will be posting something about translation in the coming weeks. This will be a big post that will consolidate a lot of ideas that has entered my mind.

Any input is welcome,


If some guy comes and says he used bilingual books to speak XYZ language fluently in 6 months. Then, what will you say?
The language acquisition process does not occur on a straight line. I have been watching Television series in German without using any external crutches (subtitles) and my comprehension level has improved a lot over a year. Should I say that I achieved this improved comprehension level because I did not use any translation help in the form of subtitles and let my subconscious mind figure it all out?
In Parallel, maybe I read books in a bilingual mode that contributed to the overall improved comprehension? Maybe studying lessons in a sentence mode contributed to it? or maybe looking up words constantly contributed to it? Maybe listening to audiobooks? Maybe doing the L-R method? Language acquisition is not a 2+2 = 4 for me.
As long as I am enjoying the process of learning a language by using different tools, I will savor the process. And if the improvement is a byproduct result of using such tools, I will not mind using them. I enjoy the forest without counting trees.
And, if you think you can guess the meaning of words correctly without using translation/vocabulary lists and if it tends to work out well in your case, then, I think that is another tool to explore. I do not know how will you quantify it and how will you know for sure if it is actually contributing to the actual language acquisition process.?

Do you use subtitles in the TL or devoid of using any subtitles at all?

I use subtitles for certain things (off-hand videos etc.) but now it’s only in the TL. If there’s something I don’t understand I’ll let it go and try to determine from context what it could mean. I find it quite tedious and taxing to keep looking at the subtitles when I want to engage myself in the content in the moment so listening and watching is enough for me. I think LingQ functions as the transcript for it’s content in effect, so I leave the majority of reading to this platform.

I tried a French movie a couple of weeks with the TL subtitles, and it was fun (a little tricky to follow along the words/audio/video all at once) but good nonetheless. But I wouldn’t use a transcript for something of that length often, perhaps for stuff that happens to need it (very quiet material for example.) or even just for content where transcripts are embedded in the video.

And, what is your reason for doing that , I mean, letting go certain things even if they are unclear.

I suppose to accept the idea that they will be encountered again in different contexts and in different forms where they will begin to make more sense the more associations they have, particularly if they are quite common words/phrases.

I agree with your statement. The high frequency words are going to be encountered in different contexts over and over again. Of course, the lower frequency words are going to get more difficult to find.

If the translation is being a hindrance to being fully immersed in your TL- so how do you read something in your TL and try to understand it? Similarly goes for listening, what do you do if you do not understand something while listening to something in your TL? May I know what exactly are you reading and listening to in your TL?

Translations are extremely useful in providing orientation to what I’m listening to in Japanese.

According to my LingQ stats, I’ve listened to 39.7 hours of Japanese this week. On the other end of the spectrum, I’d say I’ve spent 40min, maximum, all week reading any sort of translations. But those 40 minutes were extremely valuable. A few minutes spent with a translation boosts almost any piece I’m interested in listening to to 70% comprehensibility.

Grammar and vocabulary-wise, I’ve done many cloze test reps and regular SRS reps, which have satisfied me on their own just through volume of examples. Seriously, I think the only grammar point I’ve ever read about (in English for Japanese) was re: comparisons, yori and hodo. Everything else seemed cut and dried through practice.

My point is that I agree with the premise of immersion, immersion, immersion with as little native language as possible, but I don’t advocate that as a rigid rule.

If someone wants to look up multiple translations, grammar rules written in English, or turn-on L1 subtitles, I’d say go for it if you feel you need it.

The 40 minutes I estimate I’ve spent this week with translations were because I wanted to and because the translations were extremely helpful. I didn’t abridge my time because of some belief in target language only. If I needed 2 hours with translations, I would’ve spent 2 hours. 40 minutes was all I needed.

Listening is my main activity. Honestly I don’t even like the time dump of chipping away at texts and figuring them out on a first run-through using the LingQ reader. If I can start by reading a quick translation in English or French of the entire Japanese lesson and then adding the lesson to my playlist, I’m good to go for beneficial repeat exposure listening. Later, I can open up the reader and clean up the lesson and mark words as known or remark words as unknown, already with the experience and understanding under my belt through listening to the lesson/story several times.

I came across this article. I thought it might be relevant to your discussion.

In favor of using translations in parallel, one thing I have observed is that my ability to notice “collocations” in my TL(German) has increased many folds. Had I not used translations, I would have been saving wrong collocations based on my own intuition.

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Agreed. Dont’ get too bogged down with what you don’t understand perfectly adn keep on trucking

I like the story of Schliemann, but I couldn’t help think that the author of the article totally ignored the part where Schliemann says he didn’t study the rules, when she goes on later to say that his method would be difficult to follow because the learner would have to “construct their own grammar book”, “take notes”, etc. What?? Did she even read what she says Schliemann wrote?

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I’ve glanced at this, but will look further into it. Looks interesting.

Yeah. It does not make sense at all. It either sounds like a hypocritical statements or not reading Schliemann’s work.