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Translating - am I overthinking this?


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One thing I keep pondering during my quest to learn Swedish, is this: for those of you who are fluent in a second language, how do you read/listen to that language?  Do you translate it mentally into your native language as you're reading/hearing it, or do you just know what the words mean without having to translate it?


It's something that keeps bothering me (I don't know why, it just does!) - I guess I'm unsure whether I'm "doing it right" - because I translate the words I read/hear into English (in my head) in order to understand them, but I'm not sure if I should just be automatically understanding them instead.


Does this make sense?  I guess I just want to understand what it's like for someone who is fluent in more than one language.   Hopefully this doesn't come across as a completely daft question.



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At beginner and intermediate levels it's normal to translate everything into a language you already know, everyone goes through this process.
Keep listening and reading in the language a lot, and you'll eventually stop translating and start speaking the language naturally.

If you can, I recommend you strictly refrain from using English for 1 month straight and use Swedish exclusively.
In case you don't live in Sweden, at least minimise your use of English to the essentials.

For example, I live in Japan, but I use English only with some friends overseas that don't speak Japanese and in places where it's required (like on this forum).
Likewise I only speak Polish whenever I talk to my mum over LINE and I only write Dutch whenever I write with my mum over LINE.
But beyond that I use Japanese exclusively (which is about 99% of the time each day).

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Ok thank you, that makes sense. :)   Unfortunately I don't live in Sweden (I really wish I did!) but speaking the language whenever I can for one month sounds like a great idea.  My husband is learning Swedish too but it didn't occur to us to start conversing in it with each other.  (We do try to write our shopping lists in Swedish though haha).  So there is nothing stopping us speaking it exclusively at home, other than our confidence I suppose.


I do already find myself sometimes thinking of things in Swedish without...well, thinking about it.  For instance on TV the other day there was a turtle and the word "sköldpadda" came into my head even though I wasn't actively thinking in Swedish.

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Seems like you're already on the right path in some ways.

If you like watching TV so much, you could check if there's some service that lets you stream live TV from Sweden over the internet.
I had that when I still lived in the Netherlands (although the quality was crap and there was a about a 40 second delay).
Time zones are different, but it still helped me get used to the language by just having it on all the time.
And once I got used to it, I started actually paying attention to what was being said.

And this has been a major contributor for me to be able to work for a Japanese-only company right away when I moved to Japan.
By "Japanese-only" I mean that all the staff speak only Japanese, all customers are Japanese, though we're just reselling stuff from an American company, so they've been desperately looking for a bilingual programmer for 4 years or so before I joined.

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