In India this is what instructors advice to young people who want to master English: "Think in English." The demure students just nod away as if they understood the very difficult process of being able to think in a language not their own. And I must tell you that like me there are many others who have been exposed to English earlier on in life and thus even the thinking process is in English. I am not a native-speaker of the language but studying in schools whose medium was predominantly English, I never learnt my mother's tongue. I can speak Tamil and also manage to read it but thinking, it is only English. Now whether it is good or bad, I don't negotiate.
Now thinking is a process which is very personal and intricate and out of the blues when an instructor advices to change the language of thinking, it gets a bit stifling. But eager minds who could do anything to learn a language, try that as well. Now if someone asks me to think in Mandarin or Dutch, I might have to undergo a complete transformation of the mind to do so. Now I don't disagree that where there is a will, there is a way. If someone asks me to do that in gun-point, I might try.
Even when students approach me and ask me for advice to speak good English, I always (without any forethought) say: "Think in English." It is better said than done. I guess the language of thinking is something which happens in a very early age and is conditioned in a certain way. Somewhere after thinking for about sixteen years in the mother tongue, and then switching to a new thinking language is a bit difficult, not impossible, I reckon.
Researches say that one can swear only in the language of their thinking. And the word for 'mother' is another example. Despite the fact that I think only in English, I always prefer calling my mother amma, the Tamil word for mother. Strange are the ways of language and the human mind!!
This is the case with all the languages, not only English, I guess. If I may ask, what is the language in which you think. Are you happy with that.
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