Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, July 14, 2006

Visualization Instead of Translation

by AJ

Listen To This Podcast

As I listen to Spanish audio, I'm trying a new approach. In the beginning of my studies (starting 3 months ago), I usually translated what I heard into English. This was not a conscious decision, its just what seemed to happen. As I heard the Spanish, I would try to translate it instantly to English.

This was a bad idea. It was impossible for me to do this at a normal speaking speed. As such, I ended up missing lots of words. Also, I realized that I will never train myself to think in Spanish if I continue to translate back and forth in my head.

So recently I've taken a different approach. As I hear the Spanish, I imagine pictures in my head. When I hear "puerta", I picture a door. I do this deliberately and consciously, trying to avoid English altogether. It doesn't work perfectly. But since starting to do this, I've found that my listening comprehension has improved. I'm able to understand more Spanish at a faster rate.

To further enhance direct comprehension (without translation), I sometimes try a little "personal TPR". As I hear the Spanish, I not only make images.. I also move my hands around to imitate the action. For example, if I hear "controlar el ganado" (control the livestock), I make a gripping gesture with my hands (control) then make horns on my head using my fingers (livestock). Yes, it makes me look like a crazy person.

But this is San Francisco, city of freaks! So I can actually get away with doing this in public and no one even looks at me!

I find that these gestures and images help the vocabulary sink in and help me move more quickly to direct (without translation) understanding of the words.

San Francisco, CA