Part Four Appendices
I. Non-Stop Non-Translation (NSNT) Free Writing
- Do you often translate from your native language to English when you think, write, and speak?
- Do you find it hard to write your paragraphs and essays without translating from your native language?
- Have you had challenges in making other people understand you?
If your answer to any of these three questions is a yes, you may want to learn to think and write in English through the Non-Stop Non-Translation (NSNT) free writing approach. It is one of the most effective ways to practice thinking and writing without translating. Free writing may serve different purposes, such as generating ideas and expressing viewpoints. However, in this NSNT approach, the goal is to help you think and write in English. As you gradually train yourself not to rely on your native language in your thinking, you will be able to speak, read, AND write more naturally in just English.
II. Importance of Thinking in English While Writing
1. As you learned from Unit 1 Introduction to Academic Writing, (Open Unit 1 here.) in the very beginning of this course, the purpose of writing is to communicate your ideas accurately and effectively. As no two languages are exactly the same, your meaning usually gets lost or misinterpreted to some degree during direct translation from one language to the other. Consequently, your writing may confuse the readers or cause misunderstanding.
2.. When you formulate ideas in your native language and then translate them into English, the process takes longer than when you deal with only one language. As you prepare for your academic study in the U.S., you will be required to read and write a lot. You will not have enough time to complete them within the time frame set by your professors if you have to translate most of the times.
3. Old habits die hard. This saying means that it is hard to break an old habit. The longer you rely on translating, the harder it will be to quit the habit. At this intermediate level of English, you are in a good position to START switching the language in which you normally think when you are writing in English: from your native language to English.
III. Steps in NSNT Free Writing
1. Prepare a notebook just for this practice. If you choose to type, set up a special folder or file on your computer. Record the date. You need to write or type in English nonstop so that you will have no time translating from your native language to English. Try three minutes, four times a week, and then gradually increase the duration and frequency as you feel more comfortable. Set your timer if needed.
2. You may decide on your own topic or choose one of the topics provided to get started. If you start rambling or end up writing something totally different, it is OK! The most important is that there is only one language – English – in your mind.
3. If you run out of ideas, just keep writing. You may write “Oh, I don’t know what more to write. Need ideas… 2 more minutes…” If you are really stuck, just write “Monday, Tuesday…”, or “January, February …”, or even “one, two, three…” Do not let the tip of your pen leave your notebook page, or do not stop typing.
4. Do not worry about grammar and spelling. Do not stop to check your dictionary. The purpose is not to produce perfect writing, but to think in English. If you want to correct mistakes, do so after you complete the NSNT practice for that day.
The above is a very typical example in the first few days or even weeks of your NSNT practice, but soon you will feel much more comfortable and have more ideas to write about, all in English!
It takes time to acquire this new skill, but if you keep practicing, you will be well on your way to thinking and writing in English. It may take some students a semester or even a year or more, so do not feel discouraged if you do not see progress right away.
Just like working out, it takes consistent efforts to strengthen muscles.
IV. Weekly Writing Prompts
To get you started, here are some suggested topics for each week of the semester. You can modify them as you wish.
V. Links to Additional Topics
The following websites lead you to images and additional topics.
The journey to good writing continues…