Now, I'd be lying if I said I figured out the secret to mastering grammar in a foreign language right away.
In reality, it took years!
But the reason I was stuck, translating from English in my head, was that the method I used to learn grammar was based on rules.
So I would study the rules, but when I couldn't apply the rules quickly enough in conversation...
That's when things broke down!
I had no choice but to translate from English to "fill in the gaps".
While I was able to learn some grammar rules, the sheer volume of grammar rules meant that I quickly got overwhelmed when it came to using those rules in conversation.
Something didn't feel right.
After all, native speakers don't learn their mother tongue through memorising grammar rules.
Nor do immigrants, who move to another country and quickly become fluent in the language.
Both speak the language to a high level, but probably couldn't explain the rules to you if they tried!
Something clearly had to change if I was ever going to reach the relaxed, flowing state of natural grammar, that I so desperately wanted and envied in others.
I realised I needed a more natural path to mastering grammar that didn't rely on traditional study.
But I didn't know what that was.