Q. What advice would you give to students who find themselves thinking about the language — analyzing and translating it without wanting to — so that they can stop doing these things?
A. I found as a student I had an internal struggle. The learned (though seemingly natural) habit was to try to gain meaning from the sounds and words I was hearing – but they didn’t mean anything yet. I created for myself and internal game. It was to first, focus my attention on what I saw rather than what I heard. Then I would guess as to meaning. Sometimes, when guessing wrongly, I’d have to go back and make a different guess. After practice at guessing however, I found that I was able to get at meaning through what I saw, much better than at what I heard. It was then that I finally became comfortable and relaxed with that process.
Later, as I gained more experiences, the sounds I would hear triggered memories of earlier experiences where those same sounds were used, and I began to gain meaning through what I heard. The experience of having meaning naturally develop around sounds was quite exciting and I have never lost that regained baby-like practice of looking and guessing for meaning.