I’m sure there are many people out there who have learnt a language for many years and with all issues, there are always differing views.
But here’s my two cents on how it feels.
It’s a love-hate relationship now.
It used to a love relationship, where the love got stronger with time. The more I studied, the more I want to learn and the more I enjoyed it. The sense of satisfaction that you get from being able to decipher texts / sounds in a new language is indescribable and it remains one of my proudest achievements to date.
But as time crept by, the greed also got stronger. The greed to get better.
Which is not a bad thing. But I did suffered from somewhat an “identity crisis”, or rather the lack of an answer to the question of “What does Korean mean to me?”.
Should I keep it as a hobby? Should I make use of it in my career? Should I invest into language programs / a master degree to get even better?
Perhaps these might be easy questions to answer for some but for me, it tormented me for a quite a while (and still bug me).
It made me deeply unhappy to know that I can do better with the skills, and yet I am not.
My personal crisis probably hit a peak in 2013 and for a period of time, I found it hard to face the language head on, always wanting to avoid it somehow. It’s hard to describe what it felt like, the closest would probably be like how Nodame felt in Nodame Cantabile (one of the reasons why I love that show/anime so damn much). But of course, I need to say that I don’t have her talents, just that I identify with some of her thoughts.
I always thought that the longer I learn the language, the stronger the passion would be.
Which turned out to be.. somewhat ambivalent.
I still loved the language, but the burning passion to study and learn and absorb more isn’t quite there anymore.
Passing TOPIK 6 was perhaps the turning point.
It’s silly, but somehow you kinda lose your focus after getting the certification. By then, most of the textbooks available were too easy for me, and it felt strange that I no longer have books to study with. Of course there are the ‘real’ books (novels etc) out there, but being a fan of textbooks, it felt weird that I suddenly don’t have stuff to work on.
There was also a little bit of complacency too. Or rather, the sense of comfort that I can understand conversations, read stuff etc that there was no motivation to really improve. When I travel to Korea, I could function perfectly well. I get lured into the false sense that I’m pretty good and with that feeling, I didn’t feel the urge to do much to improve my proficiency.
That’s why at times I do welcome the occasional wake-up calls when I see people who are better than me, or people who are working super hard etc. Nothing is more motivational that that stab of jealousy HAHA.
This blog actually keeps me tethered to the language too. I’ve seen too many friends leave the language aside for other work / life commitments and although I feel like I’m too far gone on this path to forget Korean, I still feel scared at times that one day, I might be the same. Like I always said, there is nothing wrong with thinking that there are more important stuff in life, but having invested soo much of my life into this language, I would not be able to forgive myself if I forget it.
Throughout the years, I have received countless questions on why I love this language so much and why am I spending so much time on it. There were compliments, but often there were loads of doubtful looks and plain criticisms. I’ve learn to take everything in stride but as the years pass, sometimes I also question my passion / obsession.
A friend (or maybe more than one) commented that my life wouldn’t amount to much without languages. HAH. I don’t particularly like anything outside of languages and as a result, my social circle is also quite limited to language people. HAHA.
I can’t tell whether I’m more affronted or amused at such comments.
Or the fact that I can’t even refute.
It has given me a lot, but perhaps it has closed some doors for me too.
As a teenager, I was one of those that nobody would take notice on and I never had anything I liked then too. So who is to say that my life would be richer without having spent so much time on Korean and other languages?
I would never quite know the answer to it, would I?
Learning Korean has taught me to dream. It has taught me to be a better person. It has taught me that the world is a bigger place than I thought.
And that is enough (:
Learning Korean has also made me a bigger book lover than I already was 😛
Received these books from TTMIK and I am SO excited!
I think most people know that I greatly admire and respect the whole team behind TTMIK and I’ve been recommending this online resource to everyone I know (:
Super glad to receive these books but of course, rest assured that my reviews are always still unbiased and honest! 😀
Looking forward to reading these!