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Is this normal?

  Tags: Difficulty
 Language Learning Forum : Advice Center Post Reply
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2280 days ago

153 posts - 174 votes 
Speaks: French

 Message 1 of 7
30 July 2015 at 1:23pm | IP Logged 
My French is not perfect, and I will refrain from saying I have a complete fluency in it for some time. I've noticed that when I am tired, my listening skills aren't there at all sometimes, and sometimes they are. Same goes with my reading skills. I could read/listen to something when tired, and it makes no sense at all, yet after I've given myself time to wake up, it makes perfect sense again. Is this normal? Is it simply a matter of not being completely familiar with the language? I'll highlight a page in a book to look it up later, only to find out I don't have to, and I know everything but a single word, that sort of thing.
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Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3574 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 Message 2 of 7
30 July 2015 at 1:48pm | IP Logged 
I've found tiredness to be one of many variables that affects my language ability on any given day, and like you say, not in a consistent way. Sometimes it clearly worsens my understanding and speaking but sometimes I manage quite well despite being tired. These sorts of ups and downs are common in the intermediate/advanced stage in my experience.
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 3256 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 Message 3 of 7
31 July 2015 at 2:22am | IP Logged 
Totally normal.   

I think this is one of the major factors for me too. Foreign languages take a lot of
mental energy, and I am much more alert when I'm rested.   Reading is a bit easier for
me than actually speaking, but even then there are days where I struggle with a passage,
only to find that it's easy when I look at it again after a good nap!
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Joined 1941 days ago

3 posts - 4 votes
Speaks: English*, Thai
Studies: Russian, Japanese

 Message 4 of 7
31 July 2015 at 6:53am | IP Logged 

I find myself staring at sentences all the time which would come to me easily if I wasn't tired. It happens in English as well, I could read a whole page of a book before I realize that I didn't actually digest any of it, just skimmed over it.
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Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3376 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 5 of 7
31 July 2015 at 10:53am | IP Logged 
Of course it is normal. Just as it is normal not to run at the same speed every day, not to be in top form at every test, not to have mood for socializing every day...

I'd say the problem is not unfamiliarity, it is need for more practice. It should get better with more time spent on the language, more immersion. It has already worked for me a few times, there is no reason why it shouldn't work for you. ;-) Bon courage.
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United Kingdom
Joined 1762 days ago

61 posts - 75 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, Spanish
Studies: Dutch

 Message 6 of 7
21 August 2015 at 7:31pm | IP Logged 
I have t1 diabetes and when blood is running high it makes me constantly tired and u can't focus on
language at all. Be it English or any foreign tongue. On the other end of the scale, when I hypo, my body
goes into fight or flight mode and boom, total clarity. I understand more than when I am at "normal" levels.
I believe it's linked to dopamine levels. Tiredness has a massive impact in the dopaminergic system. The
system linked with memory and learning.
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Senior Member
Hong Kong
Joined 2644 days ago

145 posts - 251 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*

 Message 7 of 7
27 August 2015 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
On a good day I can pass for a Beijinger in front of Taiwanese; on an average day I speak
Mandarin like an average foreigner, sounding more like English than a tonal language. When I
attend Toastmasters Club meetings, I speak and listen without any problem; when I'm out in the
open, my friends have to keep repeating and I mess up the English tenses. What do you think?

Edited by Paco on 27 August 2015 at 4:02pm

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