Lapsing back into your native language/translating in your head

Hello everyone.

I want to start this thread because of one particularly frustrating problem I’ve had while learning Swedish, or any language for that matter. I have a larger vocabulary than my “badge” says, so i don’t have too much of an issue when reading and understanding simple material in Swedish.

My problem, however, is that I will start reading a line in Swedish and end up reading in English. I keep subconsciously going back to my native language even when I know a Swedish word or phrase by heart, and it takes a lot of concentration just to read simple sentences in Swedish that I already know.

I know that you must translate in your head at first to understand the meaning of the new words, but even if I know them, my brain stays in translate mode. If anyone has any tips or suggestions to help me, or if you have the same problem, let me know, because it is very frustrating.

Does it help if you read aloud?

Oh wow, am I an idiot or what…I hadn’t thought of that… I can speak phrases without thinking in English, reading is my only problem. I will try that, thank you, Keke :slight_smile:

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Give your brain and yourself more time and more exposure. I guess Swedish sounds still so strange to you that you make this step. According to your profile your just a beginner. It took me a long time to come to the point where I no longer translate into German when I read English. This happens when you REALLY know a word, and don’t have to think about its meaning like in your native language. In English I’ve now sometimes problems to find a proper German translation.

There is no special advise, but I would listen a lot, practize shadowing and reading along with the audio. As a beginner you should not read out loud without having the audio in behind.

If I translate English sentences into Japanese, I have to change the order of the words. When I am doing this, I am in translation mode. Usually I read and write English sentences without this process. I imagine that I cannot completely get rid of my Japanese vocabulary while I am reading English sentences. In my mind, the word ‘cat’ is always connected or associated with ‘猫’, consciously or unconsciously. I think that this is inevitable. I don’t call this translation mode. I wonder how Swedish and English are different in syntax.

“I wonder how Swedish and English are different in syntax.”

Swedish is pretty much like the love child of German and English. You should learn it, Yutaka!


Like Vera said, I think it’s just a matter of time, patience and exposure. The ‘Swedish’ section of your brain will just gradually get more and more independent. Don’t worry about it too much, the more time you spend in Swedish material, the more your brain will get used to using Swedish instead of English.

I’d say English is historically a child of old Scandinavian languages and French :wink:
But anyway, if you speak German and English, it will definitely help with Swedish.

@Ress I found that my knowing Plattdeutsch, German and English confused more than it helped at first! I couldn’t break down the sounds Swedes uttered into anything I was familiar with. Only now that I have sharpened my listening skills do I find that my language mix is actually quite useful.