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I'm a native Persian speaker and I've been learning English since I was 11.
Of course in the first years of learning, I actually had a lot of mistakes in choosing methods that I will never repeat in learning a third.

One of these mistake is that I didn't start to learn English through an L2 to L2 method (Internet was not as common as it is nowadays in Iran and so I wasn't aware as I am know. Teachers speak in Persian while they are teaching English. There are a lot of factors that limit the chance of a second language learner expose himself to a simulated environment of second language)

Now the conditions are different a bit and as an Engineering student, I try to expose my self to English as much as possible through chatting with native people, watching satellite English channels, reading news and books in English, etc.

It was really a hard job to accommodate with the new situations. For example when I just started to watch English TV series, it was apparent that I take a while in my mind to understand in Persian (It is still a problem but I'm trying to handle it)

Anyway, my reading skills are pretty good and I have participated in a translating job interview which shows that I'm qualified to work for them (the work involves with translating academic Persian papers to English to help the ones that want to publish their research results in English journals and sometimes vice versa)

But I'm a bit worried. Will that job affect my effort of understanding English in English? (I'm planning to participate in TOEFL exam in the future, I'm very good in understanding that kind of stuff but I need to work to accelerate my pace to understand real life English. I'm still weak in understanding every word of a native in different accents)

If it will affect my L2-comprehension, then what can I do to mitigate this effect?

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    It is incorrect & false information to say that [all] English teachers in Iran speak Persian. For years I studied English in Iran & then taught it & never ever had teachers who'd speak Persian in the class, neither did I. Maybe you didn't go to one of the reputable language schools. Second, your name is female, yet you're using a male pronoun for general third person? Third, you won't know until you try. You can always quit if you don't like it,but make sure to add to to your translation skills because passing the test or speaking the language doesn't necessarily guaranty a good translation. – Neeku Apr 11 at 16:26
  • @Neeku that was about 17 years ago when I started learning English in a small town and yes they spoke Persian – Sepideh Abadpour Apr 14 at 14:27
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    I started learning English over 20 years ago and they did not speak a word of Persian in the class, to the point it made me feel handicapped at times! My point is, your sentence generalizes your experience to all English teachers in Iran which is incorrect. – Neeku Apr 14 at 14:35
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I think I understand where you're coming from, however, I don't think you need to worry.

You already seem to have a fairly good understanding of English, and translating from Persian to English is definitely not going to harm your English skills, rather, it should help your mind better understand the difference between the two languages, and (this idea discussed in more detail below) should help you convert Persian concepts to English more easily.

Speaking in English will also strengthen your "thinking in English" skills.


This has been discussed on chat.

The forum post(s) linked in chat mentioned the radical differences between Persian and English, namely the very nature of ideas expressed/words in Persian are more abstract than those in English, thus there's a large hurdle between thinking in English and thinking in Persian.

(This is just how I understand it:) It's like when learning Spanish from English, concepts/words usually have pretty near synonyms and learning Spanish is pretty much learning new words, and learning new grammar. However, when learning English from Persian, the very concepts are different, and communication itself is on a completely different plane.

  • ok, then seems that this problem is not a universal problem for language learners. Especially when you are native in a european language and you start another one. This is a matter of cultural difference. So, other people in this site are not familiar with this problem – Sepideh Abadpour Apr 16 '16 at 13:20
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    @sepideh Right. I think that translating practice will be a great experience for you, and that speaking English some more will help you to be able to think it more easily. – Hatchet Apr 16 '16 at 13:22
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You always improve what you a training. Thus, doing translations from Persian to English will improve your ability to translate from Persian to English. It is also necessary that you get some feedback on the quality of your translations. Of course, you will also enlarge your vocabulary which is beneficial for language learning in general, but don't expect much effect on other skills (like reading and listening comprehension and speaking your writing essays).

Note also, that in translation the usual professional way of doing it is always to have translators translating from L2 to L1 and never the other way around.

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