Why do we need to have starter activities (or warm ups if you prefer) in class? What are their purpose? When we speak a language, we must think in that language to achieve fluency, and avoid going blank etc. It is very difficult to be able to translate word for word what you want to say in your own language and hope to keep up with a conversation in full flow. I guess through interpreting meaning and paraphrasing this is possible to a certain degree, as you only need to grasp the basic meaning, but as I say, very difficult. I have always thought to myself, ´Why do twice the amount of work?´. If you translate you need to listen, understand, translate, think of an answer, translate again, and then respond. This is not the easiest method.
Innitially it is tough to think in a different language but it is completely necessary. We need to begin by reducing the level of language that we demand of ourselves, then we can start a process of building a language web, structures that will later help us to construct phrases without the need to translate. This will help you avoid going blank and thinking “How do you say ___ in English?”. Through this process fluency will improve as it will help you with what I like to call ´tip of your tongue syndrome´, this is where you think you know a word, you can understand it and in certain contexts use it, however it doesn´t always come out when you want it to, you have to actively think and search for it in speech. Thinking in English helps to stop this problem and it serves as a base to later use more complex language.
Here are some activities that make us (or our students) think in English! They are easy to use and can be adapted to almost any level.