Thinking, Dreaming and Talking to Yourself in a Foreign Language

Hey guys,

.I´m a native speaker of German, but I´ve been quite immersed in English for the last six years and I´ve also done some French immersion this year.
Since then, a lot of weird things happened to me…

  • I´ve had two dreams in French (and I didn´t understand some of what has been said)
  • Sometimes, I have to translate from English to German when I´m having a conversation in german.
  • A lot of times, I have “inner dialogues” in French or English.

I could list even more examples, but instead of ranting about myself I´d like to have an interesting discussion with you. So, let me ask you…

  • Have you ever had similar experiences?
  • Do you think that talking to yourself in a foreign language is a good way to practice? (Some people seem to practice that way)
  • What about trying to think in a foreign language?
  • Do you have any interesting articles to share on that topic?

I´m looking forward to your answers :slight_smile:

Greetings, Paul

I’m a native English speaker, but once in a while only the Spanish word for something will come to my mind when I am talking to another English speaker. The Spanish word for watermelon “intrudes” the most.

Logically my dreams are generally in German, because I am not immersed in foreign countries for so long. There may be only a weekend or three days in the Netherlands, but that is not enough to change the dream language. But what happens more often is that some foreign language words appear in my German dreams. For example I say a sentence in Dutch or I use a Danish word or an Esperanto word. What creates these effects is my intensive thinking in foreign languages during daytime. But this is my general habit, languages without the posibility to think in them, are quite useless to me. What I never do, is talking aloud to myself to practise languages.


It is my experience, too, that the more I get involved with a language the more it comes up in my dreams. I rarely practice talking to myself in a chosen language, but I do try to think in ‘foreign’ from time to time. Not easy to keep it up, though, my mind tends to wander. I don’t know whether I dream more in English or in German.

In a post some weeks ago someone spoke about practising translating of magazine headlines when at the doctor’s etc, or perhaps when passing a newsagent. I always mean to do it, but…


That´s a brilliant idea!
I think I´ll go for a walk tomorrow and try to think of the french nouns for everything that surrounds me.^^

I had a dream I was talking in Russian a little last night. I don’t remember exactly what the conversation was about but I remember saying “я шучу” or “I’m joking” to a Russian guy in my dream. I have conversations with myself in my head in English all the time let alone in Russian lol. I find with anything I am engrossed in it will eventually end up in my dreams in some way or another.

When I had been using Spanish for a few years, (my second language), I often noted that whenever I had a serious issue to think about, I would catch myself going over the various points in my mind in Spanish. Somehow, I think this was a technique my sub-conscious invented so that I would place more concentrated attention to what I was thinking about … because it did take me more effort to do that rather than think about the same thing in English.

Now, more than 10 years later, I seldom find myself doing this, although I will deliberately think some things through in one language or another.

Never done much dreaming in Spanish, but I did, too, sometimes find myself coming up with Spanish words in the middle of an English conversation, and now that I’m learning Mandarin I will sometime want to throw in a Spanish word when I am not quite sure of the Chinese word I want to use.

Psychologists say that your native language is the one you hear in your dreams and in that in which you curse .

Well, living in Moscow’s suburb, I happen to curse in German. Not too much, of course =)


Would you like to post a link that goes into more detail?

If I were ever tempted to swear, I’d do it in English and in German - not that I’d ever do it -:slight_smile:


The thing is , I’ve heard this in a video from youtube which was covering a topic related to religion not language learning( I would’ve posted the link if it were otherwise ) .

“I´ve heard someone say that in a youtube video about religion and not language learning”

So… yeah, I guess we can´t discuss that here^^

I sometimes curse in French or English when I accidentally hurt myself, when I drop something et cetera.

I often think in English and talk to myself in English, but I only dream in English when I spend the entire day talking to people online ( second life) all in English.

Interesting topic, thanx to open it @Paule89

Sometimes I have dreams in English, once I had a dream in French and in Spanish. But mostly I am thinking in English. When I’m wandering about sth or I’m planning sth, I often think in English (it happens also in French, from time to time). I guess it happens, when we achieve some level in foreign language, when we feel more comfortable with a language.

ive had multiple dreams in german…and one time i was speaking it with someone who doesnt even speak german in the real world!

I’ve had dreams in both Spanish and French, sometimes where I am speaking the language and sometimes when I am trying to translate what someone else is saying. It especially happens if I fall asleep right after concentrating on the language, like watching a movie in that language.
I read an interesting article about how swearing in another language doesn’t have the same psychological effect as swearing in one’s native language. Unfortunately I don’t remember where I read it.