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Are you slowing down your speaking by doing this?

The other day a client told me he was frustrated because it takes him too long to get out what he wants to say.

I asked him if he was translating before talking.

And he said yes.

Translating your sentence in your head before letting it out of your mouth is a sure way to slow down speaking.

To speed up speaking: prepare and practise.

Here are 3 ways.

Internal narration

Talk in English in your head – and out loud – about whatever you’re doing right now, your to-do list, the weather, the clothes you’re going to wear today, the movie you saw last night, your weekend plans …

I try to think in French as often as I can and also talk to myself when taking a shower, washing the dishes or cleaning the house. And don’t worry, your family will get used to hearing you jabbering to yourself.


Repeat information under time pressure to make the words come out faster. Choose a topic, brainstorm some expressions and then speak aloud for 3 minutes, then repeat what you’ve said for 2 minutes and again for 1 minute.

You can read more about this technique here.

Talking out loud in 3-2-1 connects the brain to the mouth and fosters muscle memory.


Play all the roles in the dialogues and interviews in course books to become familiar with common turns of phrase. When you need these phrases in real life, they’ll spring to mind more quickly.

Even better, make up your own conversations on what you talk about with clients and colleagues. Make it easier by cutting the conversation into sections, and practise it bit by bit.

And when it comes to writing, the message is the same: don’t translate.

Of course this doesn’t mean never translate. Sometimes what you want to say is complicated or it’s a new topic and so you need to translate.

But not all the time.

Speed up speaking by reducing how translating in your head.

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© Christina Wielgolawski