Translating is My Issue

I’ve alway had trouble with this and ever since the first day that I knew I wanted to learn a language, I’ve had this question in my mind.

When I read a sentence in a different language, my brain wants me to translate every word in that sentence, word for word, back in to English. This makes it difficult when learning a language as obviously not every language is structured this way. Plus, when I see a word in a different language, my mind must think of the English translation of it to comprehend the meaning.

Does anyone else have this problem? Is this just an early stage of language learning?

Hi Nick,
I had the same issue in the early stages and it still comes up. I just try to get the jist of what is written because not everything can be translated word for word because it just wouldn’t make sense. I think our brains reach for anything when starting a new language. When I can’t find the right words in Italian my brain reaches for the German word or English word because that’s what it already knows. It’s not so bad because it’s associating what you are trying to learn with what you already know. The trick is not to get frustrated.

Steve once said something along the lines of you’ll learn a lot and then forget it which is so true. But then one day when you least expect it you’ll understand something spoken while watching TV or listening to a podcast or when passing a stranger on the street that you didn’t understand before or you’ll say something that you never even knew you knew in your new language and it’s so cool.

So you forget a word here and there. It doesn’t matter. I find that when I’m communicating with someone in my target language and I forget a word or I complete the sentence with German or English the person I’m talking to generally understands what I’m trying to say and tells me the word I was reaching for. After such interactions I generally remember the word I struggled with and move on to the next.

Hope that helps:)


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I understand and appreciate your response. You’re right. All I need is to keep that in mind and really, just practice a whole lot more.