By Fadi Abu Deeb
How to advance in a new language? No doubt there are lots and lots of very good and professional articles and videos around the web that give a professional advice about learning new languages and advancing in them: learning a bunch of vocabularies and practicing on them every week, getting involved with native speakers regularly, visiting the country of the target language often or for a long period of time to live and study, getting oneself immersed in cultural phenomena such as songs, movies, reading books, and so many other helpful and powerful tool.
However, writers, whether amateur or professional, have an additional and really powerful way to advance in a new language. This way is translation, or to be more accurate, self-translation, assuming here that this writer is already involved in learning a new language for a certain period of time, let’s say an average of one year.
Starting with short and rather easy texts, a writer/blogger can benefit from the special relationship he/she has with the text. Experiencing a text, a poem, a devotion, or even a piece of diary, makes it much more open for memory and thought, i.e., for memorization and internal monologue.
Therefore, when we try to translate this short and somewhat-easy piece of literature, we will be busy searching for vocabularies, and struggling, or maybe even suffering, to find the best and most natural way to convert this text from our native tongue to the target language. The involvement with our own reservoir of words, with dictionaries, and with other friends who can help us in distinguishing concepts and synonyms, will definitely make the way a bit difficult but certainly rewarding.
The special relationship that we have had with our text in its native tongue, with all the mental images, concepts, visualizations, and internal rhythm, will be either transferred to the produced text or find counterparts there, i.e., different but related images, concepts visualizations and rhythm. Now we can think about our beloved texts, stories, poems, our secret diary thoughts,…etc., with a new way of intimacy, with the new words and phrases. They will be the new food for our minds to chew slowly and well while we are walking, taking a bus or train, or even thinking about writing new things.
This is a great experience that only a writer can experience.