Think Only In Your Target Language. Really?

I speak Indonesian (my native language), English, and Japanese fluently, and now I’m teaching myself Korean.

I often hear this advice: try to think only in your target language.

And you know what?

It never works that way for me.

I suspect it doesn’t work that way for you, either.

Especially in the beginning phase of your learning, what happens when you try to think in Korean only?

Your mind goes blank.

Of course. It’s only natural.

And what can come out of your mouth when your mind goes blank?

Nothing. Of course.

Now, I’m going to give you a different advice.

Don’t try to think only in your target language.

Think in any language you’re more comfortable with.

If you’re learning Korean via English, think something in English.

For example, you want to say,”It looks good on you.”

You don’t know how to say it in Korean. Good. Get your phrasebook.

“Korean At a Glance”, page 166: It looks good on you.=잘 어울려요. Chal-eo-ul-lyeo-yo.

Congratulations. Now you know how to say “it looks good on you” in Korean. 짝짝짝~ (=clap clap clap). When you meet a nice Korean lady, you can compliment her with the phrase.

Don’t worry about thinking in Korean only.

It’s the ability that comes with time.

It will come to you NATURALLY if you keep spending time with the language.

Instead, find out how the Koreans say it in natural Korean. And then memorize it.

You’ll speak a lot faster that way instead of waiting for your brain to be ready to think in Korean only. ###

Actually, I would say 잘 어울리시네요 myself, because if I ever meet an adult Korean in person, I would use honorific and speak in more formal tone. But 잘 어울려요 is good enough, I guess.


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