one of my most important goals while living in Korea is the oh-so-obvious one: learn Korean. so much easier typed than said in Korean. or done. whatever that phrase is. my friends and family are under the impression that I’m some sort of language-goddess, and while I aspire to one day evolve into such a deity, for now I remain mere mortal. I do admit to having some skills, but those skills are also known as practice and experience. no magic in there, yet.
as for my actual level right now, a good friend of mine asked me the other day, “are you getting conversational yet?” and my answer was this: helllllll no. I’m still trying to remember how to say, “my name is Sally.”
Korean has been pretty tough, initially. the different alphabet throws me off, but what throws me off the most is the series of sounds that come out of people’s mouths. they’re unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. I can’t connect them to any words in my memory. in order to speak a Korean word, I have to do the following:
pause all other actions and squeeze my eyes shut. my brow furls and it looks weird. I picture the Korean word in my head, then slowly sound out each syllable… twenty-thirty seconds later I am usually able to pronounce the word for the first time as a whole. I repeat, quicker this time. ta-da!
needless to say, this first month / 6 weeks has been frustrating. when I was learning Spanish in Argentina, I was remembering 3-7 words a day and refused to speak English with my roommate within a month. however: Spanish sounds a lot like English, I lived with a roommate who spoke only Spanish, I was taking Spanish classes AND the alphabet was the same. so obviously I can’t expect the same to happen, here in Korea. it’s slower going.
before learning the Korean language itself, I first had to learn a couple of other things: how to pay my bills, how to use the buses, how to get a cell phone, how my job works, how to even teach in the first place, how Korean culture works. I’ve had a lot on my plate! my brain has been full! but finally… I’ve gotten into more of a routine. things have settled down. I’m living on a schedule, as opposed to a half predictable, maybe-the-way-things-are-going-to-go kind of “schedule”.
so with that, it’s Korean time. boom.
and these are the techniques that I will employ to become super awesome at Korean and impress my friends and family when I arrive back home:
- my best friend, www.quizlet.com – I love this site. it’s flashcards. it’s computer generated quizzes. it’s also interactive and I can listen to a word and then try to type it, all while looking at the English. it is the online professor of vocabulary building. bonus: someone created an app for the iPhone, so that I can look at flash cards during any free moments I have throughout the day, like bus rides, etc. did I mention I love quizlet.com? I love it. love.
- talk to me in korean audio lessons – they are fairly basic, but teach the grammar and phrasing rules that are essential to understanding this language. the difficulty in which they increase is also manageable, so I’m not left in the dust if I don’t get something. best of all, they come with a great PDF with exercises to do after listening to each lesson. ohhh and one more thing: it’s free! wooohooo!
- my new friend that lives nearby is going to “tutor me”… so he’s going to listen to me and tell me when I’m wrong, basically. alright, alright… I’ll admit it. I just wanted a new friend. he’s cute. whatever.
this is my plan. I also know a lot of other language-learning people read this blog, so if you have any suggestions of methods that have worked for you, please pass them along!