You are hereIs it even "possible" to not translate?

By dvlong - Posted on 14 December 2009

Is it even "possible" to not translate?

This question comes up again and again. Perhaps my experience as an ALG student many years ago is instructive. When I began, I took about three months to settle into the program. The first three months were frustrating as it was a complete paradigm shift – from hard work, home work and study, to entertainment, and letting the brain do whatever it does. It's not that I was passive – My role was to actively guess about what was going on, and to avoid trying to speak or even think about words. This I have done since that time and I've never wanted to go back to the old ways.

What I found was that I understood many easy words, such as 'then' and 'but' only after a very long time – which I believe if I was translating at any level, would not have been the case. Also, early on I began to understand the gist of things better than my friends who had studied the language, even though I didn't know equivalents of any words. This later became a very accurate understanding of both the intended meaning and later the language, and without any apparent conscious connection to anything in English, my native language. I actively turned off the adult tendency to connect languages. Therefore, it's my understanding that I have acquired Thai without any form of translation.

I agree with your observation. After 3 months I actually started to dream in Thai. The bad thing is that I only had 3 months in the program and have struggled to get back to Bangkok to continue. It took almost a year to switch back in to English in my dreams and regular sleeping schedule.