In the beginning, with the first newly-acquired words, we obviously translate. But I try to encourage my students to think in their new language, as early on as possible. To explain this to any audience, any age, any level, I draw a cat, a sunshine and a happy face. I then write ‘chat’, ‘soleil’ and ‘heureux’ above each drawing in their native language. Above that line, I write the translation.
For the word in the middle, the brain sees the yellow ball in the sky, which it knows is a ‘soleil’. It then looks it up into his translation-database for languages being acquired and sees the result is ‘sun’. However, if you skip this phase and tell your brain to put ‘sun’ directly above the representation of a yellow ball in the sky (at this point I erase the line of L1 words), your brain will get used to juggling in that manner….. and as you acquire more language, the whole process will go faster and faster.
This way of learning of course doesn’t work for everything, nor can it be applied to complex topics such as the subjunctive or modal forms. However, I believe it helps the brain get into the habit of switching from one language to the other faster.
Do you agree?