Translation from English is Bad For Your Fluency + Example From My Early Days as a Teacher

By Robby

If you are new here please read this first.


Hi guys and welcome back to video blog!

I’m Robby from, obviously, and in this video episode, we’re going to touch upon a subject that we’ve spoken about many times before, namely – the fact that you don’t have to translate from English into your native language and vice versa while getting involved in English improving related activities.

Obviously, we’ve spoken about it at length previously so I’m not going to get into the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing that.  By now, they should be quite obvious to you but for those who haven’t watched my videos in the past and haven’t visited my website probably, let me tell you just one thing.

If you translate, you can’t speak fluently because your mind is too preoccupied with dealing with all the grammar related issues and basically creating sentences from scratch in your mind, instead of speaking spontaneously and that’s what fluent speech is all about.

In relation to the whole ‘don’t translate’ subject, I’m going to bring up an example of what happens when people try to translate, and it happened years ago.

Years Ago I Used to Teach English to My Friends & Relations…

You see, what I used to do about seven or eight years ago, I used to teach English to a group of people. They were all my relations and friends. There were five, six, or seven people, I’m not really sure, but anyhow, once a week, we met for an hour or so and I was giving them examples, new vocabulary words and back then, I didn’t really go the English Harmony road because I wasn’t actually aware of all that.

I was still struggling with my own fluency, so I was using the traditional grammar translation method to teach my friends English. This phrase, ‘I NEED HER’ somehow stuck in my mind because I remember there were plenty of questions asked about that particular phrase.

You see, in my language, which is Latvian in case you didn’t know – I come from a Latvian background. It’s a small nation in Eastern Europe, near the Baltic Sea to be more specific, and at the coast of the Baltic Sea, there’s three Baltic States; Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, right, and I’m a Latvian.

In our language, we don’t really say, ‘I need her’. Translated directly, it would translate something like, ‘my needs her’ or something like that, you know what I mean, and this is a vivid example of total uselessness of translation because if you try and do that, you’ll just get all messed up in your head.

So WHY Do They Say “I Need Her” in English If We Say It Differently in Our Language?!

All you’ve got to do is just accept the fact that ‘I need her’ describes the concept of ‘me needing her’ and you don’t have to try and put that concept in your native language words because the chances are, if you try and do that, just like my friends and relatives tried to do during our English lesson, all of a sudden they just can’t grasp the concept. They start asking all sorts of questions – “Why do you say that in English?” and “Come on, in Latvian we say that but in English we say that, so are there any rules stipulating that word usage and how do I know what I have to say in a similar situation?!”

So, basically, it creates an avalanche of questions and a stream of questions that, I actually back then, found very hard to answer because I still hadn’t found the answers to all of those questions myself and I was trying to, kind of, explain why you have to use those words and why people say such things in English but the simple answer was – “Don’t ask any questions, just accept that that is the way in which speakers say, ‘I need her’! Stop right there and then! Don’t translate into your native language. Don’t even ask those questions, just accept it and that’s it. Repeat the phrase ‘I need her’ and try and visualize the whole concept of you needing someone, be it your wife or child or whatever, any other person, and just say it out loud a number of times; I need her, I need her, I need her, and that’s it!”

Simple Repetition Does The Trick!

The phrase “I NEED HER” embeds itself into your mind and that suffices for you to be able to speak like a native speaker, right, when describing that particular concept, whereas if you keep asking the question, “But why do you say that?” you just keep confusing yourself and at some stage down the line, you might actually become so frustrated that you might abandon any attempts to better and improve your English, so it’s better for everyone.

It’s better for the teacher, for yourself, if you just stop asking those questions, but obviously if you are tutored by a teacher who follows a traditional road of teaching English, they will actually try and explain all those concepts and they will actually facilitate all such questions, and on many occasions, they will leave those questions unanswered and leave you wondering why it’s like that instead of just telling you, “No, you don’t have to ask those questions.  Don’t try and translate, just use the English phrase without trying to draw some parallels between the English phrase and your native language phrase, right?”

Obviously now I know better than that, I’ve stopped asking such questions to others and myself a long time ago and whenever people at work, for example, ask me some questions like that. You see, there are a lot of non-native English speakers where I work and sometimes they approach me with asking some English related questions beginning with the word ‘why’ and my answer is always, “Don’t try and understand why, just accept it! That’s what’s said in English, that’s all. That’s how English speakers speak. That’s the English language, right?”

So, I hope this video is useful to you in case you were in doubt about some particular phrase or sentence in English, or you were wondering why they actually say that in English and in my native language, they say it a bit differently.

Just stop it.

Stop it right there ❗

Don’t ask those questions because that’s the only way more or less to improve your English to a much greater degree to a native-like fluency!

Thanks for watching my friends and don’t hesitate to publish any questions or comments you may have in the comments section below. Thank you and goodbye! 😉


P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System