How to Think in Another Language: 3 Important Tips

Aside from being extremely useful for exploring new cultures, language learning is great fun.

At some point on the learning journey, we all ask ourselves, ‘But how to think in another language?’.

How to think in another language

How to Think in Another Language

People often consider thinking in another language one of the highest attainments in the language learning journey.

There can be a lot of brute force involved at the very beginning of learning a language, especially when it comes to learning vocabulary and grammar.

However, once you have it downloaded and saved into your noggin, the next steps can become more fluid and natural.

When trying to figure out how to think in another language, including how to think in Italian, there are a few things to tick off the checklist first.

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Once you are in good standing with the above, maneuvering your way into the top position of cognitively processing things in your new language should be easy.

At the end of the day, all it really comes down to is practice. That is, how much and how often you practice and what you practice.

As much as we would be able to do your practicing for you and make your life easier, we can’t. What we can do, however, is give you some tips on what to practice and how to stop translating in your head. Stay tuned!

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Exposure: Eat, Sleep, & Breathe Italian

This has got to be one of the most important factors to consider when learning how to think in another language.

The more time you spend listening, reading, and speaking in the language, the more your subconscious mind will become accustomed and attuned to it.

A good way to get more exposure to your new language without any additional cost to your time is to supplement.

Instead of just watching Netflix, try watching it in Italian with English subtitles. If that’s a bit too much to do after a long day’s work, try watching it normally but with the addition of Italian subtitles.

That way, your mind can tune in and out at will without any extra stress.

You could also try supplementing your normal playlist for some Italian music. Alongside fantastic food and culture, good music is one of Italy’s many gems.

There are plenty of genres to choose from, and something for everyone if you only care to look!

How to stop translating in your head

Practice with Native Speakers

It’s good to read word words and repeat them again and again until you’ve both remembered the meaning of the word and mastered the pronunciation.

However, no matter how perfectly you might be annunciating, there’s nothing like hearing the words from the horse’s (or native speakers) mouth.

This is an indispensable part of the learning process if you’re serious about learning how to think in Italian.

Ideally, living in Italy, if even only for a short period, would be the first choice.

But, we know it isn’t easy to just drop your life and pack your bags, even going for a holiday can be extremely tough.

Luckily, there are plenty of great resources out there, and if you look around, you should have no difficulty at all with finding a native Italian teacher within your budget.

Talk to Yourself in Italian

Before your kneejerk reaction kicks in, you say “I’m not a crazy person, I don’t want to start talking to myself,” just think of how utterly useful it could be!

Practicing with a native speaker is ideal and it ensures you polish your skills with both listening and speaking. However, they probably have a cap on how much time they can allot to you and your language learning adventure.

Getting into the habit of speaking to yourself in your new language doesn’t have to be a sign and your screws are becoming a bit too loose. It can simply mean that you are an ardent and passionate student, eager to improve your fluency.

Practicing sentences to yourself when you’re somewhere private enough that you’re not disturbing anyone can be a great way of getting ahead.

Try describing your surroundings as you see them, asking and answering questions that your feel you’d be likely to encounter with natives, maybe write a song in Italian!

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Doing this and getting comfortable with a natural flow of the language will bring you one step closer to your goal.

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How to Think in Italian? Just Think in Italian!

While talking to yourself in Italian is a wonderful way to improve your fluency and achieve a natural flow of language, it’s not always possible.

In situations where you’d still like to practice your Italian but don’t want to look like a total loony bin to passers-by, you can always practice in your mind!

There are plenty of ways how to think in another language to help you reap the benefits of your practice. As previously mentioned, a great exercise is to simply start by describing the environment around you as it occurs.

Describe how things look, feel, and smell. Describe the people around you, perhaps you can even make up funny stories about them and the types of lives they lead.

Another helpful exercise is to pick a topic, any topic, and start formulating sentences related to it. For example, you can use the topic of free time and then start ‘talking’ about all the different ways you like to spend your free time.

To Conclude

Thinking in another language is where we all aim to be with our new language. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, the tips above will help you climb your way to the final status.

Exposure is the best way to allow your mind to absorb the ins and outs of the sounds and melodies of your new language.

Conversing with native speakers is key to making progress in any language, but they aren’t always around. In those cases, talk to yourself to get some practice!

When you feel comfortable talking and have developed a good flow with it, convert it over to thinking!

Eventually, you will master the skill and learn how to stop translating in your head and how to think in another language.

Know more about Italy when you practice speaking in Italian.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!


Italian language tutor, course author, and polyglot. After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. With my method, you'll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.

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