Funny Experience When Switching Between English and My Native Lingo

By Robby

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– Video Transcript Below –

Hello boys and girls, hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers!

It’s Robby here from and welcome back to my video blog!

To tell you the truth guys, I haven’t had a chance to record any videos for the last couple of weeks for the simple reason that I’ve been mad busy dealing with my students. You see I’m coaching my own students as part of the Fluency Star coaching program.

And on top of that I’m away during days at the college where I’m learning to become a computer maintenance guy and a networking guy. That’s my aim, that’s my long term career goal basically to get into the IT field. And on top of that my family from Latvia visited me last weekend.

My mom and my sister and her husband, all of them came over on Thursday, stayed here till Monday. So as you can imagine I’ve been extremely busy to catch up with everything that I didn’t get a chance to do over the weekend.

Anyhow, finally I’m getting a chance to record a video now and the topic is switching between English and your native language. And what prompted me to record this video is something that happened to me the other day when my mom and my sister who were still here, we were at the pub one night, having a few drinks and then we decided to order some food and the waitress came over and I was speaking with my mom and with the waitress.

Interpreting To and From English Can Make Your Fluency Suffer!

And you see, my sister speaks English, my mom doesn’t. Well, she understands something and to tell you the truth, she’s been learning English for quite some time but the thing is that she struggles to understand fast English speech.

And so I had to translate everything for her into Latvian and then whatever she was telling me I had to relay back to the waitress in English.

So I was switching between the two languages the whole time. And the funny thing is that if you do that, well, there’s an increased chance of you making a mistake.

And the reason being – when you speak in Latvian or whatever other native language you might have, you’re speaking your native language, it is one compartment of your brain.

So then you have to switch over to English and if you have to do it the whole time it might mix the two language kind of together and you may start translating directly. And here’s exactly what happened to me.

Fried Potatoes = Free Potatoes?!

My mom said that she wanted potato chips as a side, right?

Potato chips, potato fries, depends on which part of the world you are in.

Basically, in the United States they’re known as fries and over here in Ireland they’re known as potato chips. And my mom told me that she wanted chips but in Latvian, believe it or not, potato chips are called “frī kartupeļi”.

“Kartupeļi” is “potato” in my language and “frī” is what they’re called but “frī” doesn’t mean that they would be for free, right?

I believe that word is of French origin and that’s what they’re called in Latvian, “kartupeļi frī”. And my mom said to me that she wants potato chips and in Latvian she said she wants “kartupeļus frī”.

And when I relayed the message to the waiter for some reason I didn’t say “Can we have chips with that?” but I said “Can we have free potatoes with that?” you know.

I kind of translated directly, I used the same word for potato chips in English.

And the funny thing is that the waitress actually got the message, right? What she was hearing was that I want free potatoes with that particular dish, right

And it still sounded a bit wrong to her I would imagine but she still got the message even though I didn’t mean that I wanted them for free, right?

She still realized what we wanted to order, right? And when I said that I was kind of – I was mortified actually because all of a sudden I realized that I’m translating directly from my native language. It’s something that I’m totally against, you know?

That’s one of the first rules what you have to observe if you want to become fluent English speaker. Basically stop translating from your native language. Divide English from your native language, create a separate department for the English language in your brain. Think in English, speak in English, whatever you’re doing in English, it’s in English only.

Sometimes You Just Can’t Avoid Such Situations!

But you see, when we have to switch between English and your native language, it’s inevitable, right? And the typical situation would be just the kind of situation I had when you have to be an interpreter and translate from English and your native language to someone, to your native counterpart who doesn’t speak in English, right?

So if that’s the case and you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal really. Obviously I copped on, I was ashamed of that but the next moment I realized it’s no big deal even though what I said was wrong and the waitress probably thought my English is not up to scratch, whatever.

I shouldn’t be actually thinking about it at all. I should ignore her opinion which is one of the main principles of English Harmony philosophy. You know you may want to check out this article where I’m talking about the ignorance and that you have to embrace the concept of ignoring other people’s opinion. If you don’t, you’ll never achieve English fluency because you’ll be all too worried about what other people think of your English, right?

So that’s the message I wanted to convey to you today. I just wanted to tell you that if you switch between English and your native language, you run the risk of making a mistake just like the one I made, right? Instead of saying potato chips I said free potatoes.

And “frī” that’s what potato chips are called in my language, “kartupeļi frī” which is in turn a word of French origin and coincidentally she understood what I was saying. But on another occasion probably something that you might translate directly wouldn’t make any sense to an English speaker whatsoever. Okay?

I’d Forgotten I Recorded a Video On The Same Topic 2 Years Ago!

And yep, to finish off this video I’m just going to tell you that I realized that I’ve recorded a similar video about switching from English to your native language 2 years ago. You may want to check that video here.

And the thing is I’ve been posting so many videos and articles over the years that I simply can’t remember everything that I’ve spoken about or written about, so I just opened up my website’s sitemap page where all the videos and all the articles are listed and typed in the word “switch” because I kind of had a gut feeling that I might have recorded a video about switching between the two languages, your native one and English.

And there you go! The article came up: “Is it easy to switch between English and your native language?” But it doesn’t really matter because this is something new that I had to contribute, right? This funny, funny moment in the pub where we were the other day. Okay?

Anyway, thanks for watching this video and please share any similar moments that you might have had, any experiences of similar nature, share. Share them with everyone in the comment section below and thanks for watching this video and chat to you soon my friends. Bye bye!


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

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

English Harmony System
  • Thanks! 😉

  • Nadir Bensaker

    I loved your FREE potatoes 😉