It’s time to talk about Bad Language Days™.
We all have them. And no, I’m not talking about swearing. I’m talking about the days when, seemingly out of nowhere, your brain shuts down and refuses to function in your second (or third, or fourth) language.
If I’m being completely honest, I’ll admit Bad Language Days happen in my native English, too. Cannot compute. Cannot English. Cannot Korean. Words come to a full stop, and if I’m lucky, this happens before I’m halfway through a word or sentence that I’ve forgotten how to say. A word that I’ve never had a problem pronouncing becomes a mouthful of pain.
But most commonly, Bad Language Days are a symptom of overtiredness and/or language overload. I tend to get them after a streak of days with a higher immersion in Korean, i.e. when my S.O. and I go several days speaking solely in Korean. Often I can last an entire week before my brain decides that it knows no Korean whatsoever.
Other times, it happens in the middle of a phone call, while watching a show, or even just reading an ebook on the bus.
Whenever and for whatever reason Bad Language Days happen, on those days, it’s hard not to feel miserable. And angry. For example, I’ve studied Korean for six years at this point. Why can’t I just do it? It’ll be the simplest of sentences, but I won’t be able to form it or understand it. And the more I struggle to speak, the more I grow frustrated and ashamed.
I’m a failure.
I’m nowhere near fluent.
I’ll never speak without stupid mistakes.
Six years of practice, for what?
But this vicious cycle of negative thinking ignores a very important fact: I make mistakes constantly. Heck, I make mistakes in English on a daily basis. My tongue slips up, my mind gets twisted around another thought, and something funky falls out of my mouth. No one blinks twice at me because they do the same. There’s a whole area of linguistics dedicated to all the different ways you can mess up words and sounds in any language, native or target.
The difference is that Bad Language Days are when you notice those mistakes and focus on the failure aspect, not on the growth.
I’ve learned that Bad Language Days are entirely the opposite of bad. In fact, they’re usually a sign that I’ve pushed my brain to its language-learning limit, and it’s about to clamber up from its current plateau and graduate to a whole new level of fluency. You can think of it as a computer needing to shut down and restart after downloading updates.
Just give your brain a minute, an hour, maybe a day or two. I promise that your Bad Language Day will pass.
방문해 주셔서 감사합니다.
지금 재생 중
This song is so emotional and dramatic and I LOVE IT. (FYI: this music video has a dramatic skit in the middle, so if you want to listen to the song without a random cheating/break-up scene, try the second video which is just the song audio.)