Back in my corporate days, I had a friend, Linda (not her real name), who I had lunch with every day.
Our first language is Malay, so as we enjoyed our steaming rice and chicken curries under the shade of a hot zinc roof, we would laugh and share stories in Malay.
Back in our (freezing cold) air-conditioned office, we didn’t speak to each other much because we were in different departments. We were our professional, English-speaking selves when it came to work.
The language used for communication in the office was English so it was normal for us to write and speak to other colleagues in English.
One time, Linda called me up to ask about something related to work. Since we were used to speaking Malay to one another, we started the conversation in Malay.
But we found ourselves struggling to explain work-related things in our first language. And so, we continued and finished off the conversation in English.
I wondered why this had happened. Why was it difficult for me to speak in Malay when it came to work-related topics?
I then realised it was because I was in my work mode. When it came to work, I had trained myself to think and speak in English. But when I was with Linda, I would be in my “casual conversation” mode and think and speak in Malay.
I’m sharing this story with you because I know many of our students think in their native language and so they struggle to speak in English. This may be true for you.
So I want you to start by training yourself to think in English for just one specific mode. It could be when you’re in your work mode, your “casual conversation” mode (when you’re with friends) or when you’re at home.
Starting with just one mode will help you to stay focused. For example, if you choose to think in English when you’re working, you’re training yourself to explain work-related concepts and terms in English. Then you can switch back to thinking in your first language during lunchtime. ?
As thinking in English becomes easy for one mode, it’ll get easier to switch between different languages in the other modes of your life.
I share more tips to train yourself to think in English in this video, which was our FB Live this week. You can watch it here:
There’s a tip for whatever level of English you’re at, so try any one of them and let us know how it goes.
I hope this helps and we’ll talk to you again soon!