But I know this stuff!
Why can’t I remember my language when I’m stressed?
Every second language speaker has a story about an important test or meeting when the language just doesn’t seem to work. You can’t find the words. You can’t make a sentence. Your tongue gets wrapped around itself and nothing comes out! Below are five situations when your language skills might not be fully functioning:
1. Nerves. Are you nervous about speaking your language? A little anxiety can help you in a tough situation. When your nerves get in the way of your ability to work in your language, this can be a problem.
2. Anger. Did your co-worker just blame you for a failed project? Is a situation unjust? Anger can make it hard to think clearly and recall vocabulary.
3. Exhaustion. After a long day, using vocabulary correctly is difficult. This is when you might also experience a sharp decline in your ability to pronounce words in your second language.
4. Stress. Stress is similar to nerves. All of the energy being directed towards a stressful situation means your brain isn’t making communication your key priority. Words just fail.
5. Pressure. If your job is to communicate clearly and you are the person responsible for the company’s presentation or to interpret at a meeting, performance pressure can and may impact your ability to communicate.
All of these factors can and do impact language learners at some point in the learning process. If you think that your language skills seem to slip whenever your boss walks in the door or you need to complete a speaking test, it’s time to think about strategies to lower anxiety!
Read 3 Strategies to Manage Emotions