However, this idea is totally wrong, since translation is a necessary mental process within the learning of a second language, which disappears gradually as we acquire that language, that is, when we better understand its structure, we become familiar with its semantics, its syntax, its grammar, its phonetics and with the socio-cultural aspects that are part of it, then we get rid of the need to translate and reprocess the information to respond in the new language.
As a translation student, I had the opportunity to meet a great teacher/researcher in the area of neuro-linguistics, who instructed me about the mental constructs and the areas of the brain that we use to learn a language and how it becomes necessary to translate the concepts into our mother tongue at the beginning of the learning process.
It is indisputable that the amount of time to "become independent of their mother tongue", varies from student to student, depending on their contact with the target language, their memory, analytical and comparative language skills, and their dedication and interest in learning.
From our mother tongue we can establish valuable equivalences and contrasts, which somehow lead us to abandon our own linguistic structure to understand that of the second language, which may be of Romance origin, like Spanish and French; or like English, of Saxon origin.
That is why in my last years of teaching, after having understood the importance of translation in language learning, I have not opposed translation or equivalent construction by students. However, this does not mean that as a teacher I am sparing no effort in explaining or trying to get the student to come almost directly to the second language, whether by means of rhymes, songs, figures, illustrations, antonyms, synonyms, inference questions, etc., all of them in an attempt for the learner to strengthen his or her linguistic and communicative skills in the second language.
Each person has different skills and a different style of learning, and therefore requires different effort and time to do so. For this reason, there will be a moment when "magically" the learner begins to realize that he or she no longer needs to translate and that in his or her mind he or she is doing the necessary processes, the fruit of his or her understanding and learning. Then, the learner will be able to "let go" of his/her native language to definitely "navigate in the new language". This will be a "magical" moment, as it will represent the beginning of breaking down barriers that no doubt many others will not have crossed yet, or are in the process of doing so.
But how do I know, as an educator, that this has happened? As the pupil begins to become fluent, it may be noted that he or she requires less time to respond to established questions, activities, or dialogues, either orally or in writing. In other words, we will see him/her less attached to his/her notes and more interested in testing the knowledge acquired and interacting more spontaneously. Also, because in some cases, the student discovers it suddenly, even if it was already happening, and simply expresses it happily.
The invitation is then to allow the learner to translate when he or she considers it necessary, but at the same time to take on the challenge as a teacher of creating tools that allow him or her to speed up the learning process and to detach himself or herself from the need to translate, to enjoy his or her teaching/learning process and to believe in his or her growth and strengths.
Many emigrants, whose mother tongue is different from that of the language spoken in their new country, have made the following is an observation:
When you start to have dreams in a language different from your mother tongue, you know that you are fully “integrated” in your new language!