This is part of an ongoing special series when 1-2 Korean learners/bloggers each week are invited to share their Korean learning journey! It will be nice if you can leave a comment after reading! ^^ To participate in the series, check out this post. Check out previous entries HERE.
About the Author:
The author is born the same year as Shanna so we’re friends! The author is currently studying in SIM RMIT and is actively learning Wei Qi as a hobby. Wei Qi is a popular game in Korea so that is his link to Korea other than Kpop
I was first exposed to the Hallryu wave in secondary school, with the advent of Stairway to Heaven, BoA. However, they had always been there, just a side note in my life.
As I had a spare time during army, I decided to watch Korean dramas to pass time. Also, I was introduced to Girls’ Generation by chance. As most people could conclude,
Army boys + Girls’ Generation = Chaos.
Yea, so I was crazy about them for awhile. Then I had a dream, I had a date with all of them. (Bear with me, I know that sounds crazy) All I could do in my dream was smile and converse with Jessica and Tiffany who were native English speakers. What about the rest of them? I liked them as much, but I could not speak, I could only smile and stare. It was a serious handicap.
Waking up with such a strong feeling of handicap, I decided to embark on a Korean language journey.
“I can do anything if I want to badly enough”
Phase 1: Practice hard and use a workbook.
I went down to Kinokuniya to purchase a textbook for self-studying. (At that point, I had not discovered TTMIK, so it was kind of a downer when I found out about it later). I had a strong ability to comprehend materials so I’m quite confident when reading. But the most important about part about studying isn’t the reading, it is the application.
“Are you able to apply what you have learnt?” I thought it was most important that I had a workbook, so I bought one and started working on it, like crazy.
I learnt grammar structures and tried to fit different words in them. First with simple words, then complicated ones and then try to twist the sentence structure to see if it made sense in any other way. I spent many hours playing with that and soon it became imprinted. Then I tried out more, practice makes perfect.
Phase 2: Visit to Korea
What better way to expose yourself to Korean culture than going to Korea?
My first trip to Korea was with my family. I had a lot of fun, experiencing Korea on a guided tour and trying to read the hangul on the streets. It definitely helped when I could converse a little with the tour guide and knew the basic phrases of how to get around.
If you’ve been to Korea, you’ll probably encounter this phenomenon, which is the Koreans have a tendency to over-react when they learn that you are trying to learn Korean. I mean, I swear, the look on their face! It just fuels your passion to study harder.
Phase 3: I have a Korean friend
I have the luxury of having a close Korean friend. I turn to her when I have questions about Korea, the language and the culture. She is my main source of learning and vice versa as she tries to understand more about Singapore through me. We are quite close but it always turns out awkward when I try to squeeze Korean phrases into the conversation. She’ll correct me and teach me more. That’s great for learning.
Then there’ll be some stuff that she cannot explain as it is more innate, and then I’ll just accept it. Half of the fun of learning a new language is accepting things that I did not understand, nothing it perfect! Slowly, I built my image of Korea into a fairytale and as I conversed more, I added more colour to this city in the clouds.
Phase 4: Start studying everyday phrases
It came to the point where I thought I knew a substantial amount of Korean, but then I knew nothing at all.
Try saying this in Korean:
A:Let’s watch a movie.
B: Sure! What do you like? Comedy? Romance? Action?
A: Of course “Action”. I don’t want to fall asleep in the theatre.
B: Oh my god? Do you snore?
A: I don’t think I want to watch a movie with you anymore.
B: Hey come on! I was just joking!
I always got stuck moving beyond the factual statements. The playfulness, the nuances were all lost when I tried to translate it to Korean. I needed help.
I drew up similar conversations in English and tried to get their Korean equivalents. At this point, listening to Korean songs and watching Korean drama helped a great deal. Having Shanna and Korean friends helped too!
———————– 끝 ———————–
So… so far I’ve been to Korea 3 times. I’ve made a lot of friends and keep in touch with them through Kakao Talk almost every other day. It is really useful that they are either trying to learn Mandarin or English so there is some common ground. It allows you to have room for error and experimentation. We have a lot of fun together!
I hope you do well in your Korean studies!