5 In Korean Learners/ Special Series

[Special Series – Korean Learners] #8 Sojin

Finally a post!! After so long >< Sojin actually submitted this post last month and I am really sorry that it look me so long to get this up. D: Most of my posts are backdated these days. lol. Enjoy!

Since I’ve been wanting to write one of these since the series
started, I’m writing one.

For this, I’m just going to go by Sojin, which was the Korean name
given to me.. By a dear friend’s friend (because said dear friend was
terrible at names and her only idea was 미자 from 미국여자, which ends up
sounding like a name from the early 1900s during Japanese colonization
of Korea because of the -자 ending). And, I’m 21 in Korean age.  And I
live in the US.
So, what was Korean to me?  At first, 3 or 4 years ago, Korean was a
whiny sounding language that I was going to broach studying in maybe..
10 years, after I was solidly fluent in Japanese.
My biggest downfall came with Korean music. I hadn’t really found much
in Japanese music that I liked, but I found much more Korean music I
connected with (first in Hip-hop like Epik High, then a very small bit
in Kpop, and now mostly in indie music, 홍대 kind of music). So, while I
was still studying Japanese hardcore on my own during my  senior year
of high school, Korean was in the background. Having read much on the
internet about foreign language acquisition, I had decided I was just
going to let my ear get used to Korean, but I still didn’t have plans
for studying it directly.
My second brushing with Korean happened with Korean drama that was
half-Korean, half-Japanese called Tree of Heaven. It’s been a while
since I’ve seen it so I don’t remember exactly the plot. But it sort
of helped break me into Korean, without being too full blown.
With the music and the break in drama, my ear had gotten over the fact
that Korean sounds whiney.
And the biggest leap in Korean came when I started college/university.
At first, I was dead set on double majoring in Chemical Engineering
and Japanese, but found out with 6-credit Japanese classes and
scheduling issues, it just wasn’t going to happen. I had placed into
the 4th semester of Japanese at my school, and by putting off a class,
I was able to take that semester. But I knew there was no way more was
going to fit in. I started realizing there were a lot of Korean
Americans at my school and befriended them (not just because they were
Korean American, but our paths crossed).  And at the start of my
sophomore year, I had completely left Japanese behind and was full on
into Korean. This was especially because I started working in lab,
where my professor was Korean, and most of the graduate students were
Koreans here just for graduate school. I became heavily involved in
the Korean graduate student community at my school – even adding the
Korean Graduate Student Picnic, as the one non-Korean. As a part of
that community, I was using Korean every single day. Even at the
beginning of the year, I had an intermediate level of Korean. But the
year really solidified my Korean speaking, and I’m completely used to
speaking off the cuff, with no preparation.
And now, I’m headed to Yonsei University for a year of study abroad in 68 days!

A few notes on my learning process:
1. It’s been complete self-study. I don’t have a set of materials I
use specifically. I have a bunch of materials on my computer, a few
outside of my computer (though mostly what I have are native language
books). I’m a big fan of the AJATT method, not in the sense that I use
SRS, but the idea that we need lots of input. Do things that are fun.
Don’t sit there and force yourself to look up every word. I do it
sometimes, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I don’t look up words at all.
I like to knock out two stones at once sometimes and go to the gym
with one of my books in Korean. I’ll use an elliptical and read
through the Korean book. I understand about 20% at best, but it keeps
me immersed, and I might later say “Hey I saw that word, I wonder what
it meant?” I’m bad at sticking to schedules, keeping up with diaries,
SRSes, anything of that sort. But the key, as AJATT, is just to keep
coming back. It’s okay to fail, just get up again. Do something to
keep Korean in your life, even if it’s just browsing a 네이버 웹툰 or
watching a Korean drama or listening to Korean music.
2. I think practicing speaking is really important. Even if it’s not
to a native speaker. In high school, I practiced speaking Japanese
with my friends who weren’t as diligent in studying Japanese but knew
enough to follow along and studied with me. When I was taking the
placement exam at my university, the professor was amazed at my
speaking skills, because I just used them.
3. Internal thought. One thing that helps me get into a  particular
language is picking up on the same things. Even if my vocabulary is
limited, in my head, I’ll try and use the language. If I want to ask
who that person is, I just translate it in my head “그 사람이 누구야??” and
eventually it becomes an automated response, where I don’t have to
think “How do I say this in Korean?” Even just the small things, the
way people sigh, express exasperation, stumble when thinking, yell
“ouch!” — these things really help you out. It ends up making your
speech more natural.

I officially date the actual start to my studying Korean to April
2010, so I’ve been learning for about 2 years now, and am at an
intermediate level. Though within the next few days I can maybe give a
more specific leveling.

My last note, because I fail at regularly keeping up with things, I do
not maintain much of a presence online. I have no … regular blog
(though I’ve had some try and fail), and I have a rarely used twitter.
But I’m much better with personal contact. In fact, I have like, every
chatting program known to man on my computer. So if you want to
contact me, feel free to do so. I’ll just stick my email here and if
you want to figure out another way, just let me know: watchingmidnight@gmail.com
Sojin also made a video of herself speaking in Korean!!!! 😀 😀

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  • Reply
    10 July, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Also: Since I’ve made this post, I’m attempting to start blogging in Korean about 십자수 (cross stitching) if anybody’s interested!
    (My name should link to the blog website)

  • Reply
    10 July, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Hi, I am also learning Korean by myself and with language exchange partners. Could you give a list with the books you used? I find it difficult to learn the grammar by myself. Thanks.

    • Reply
      11 July, 2012 at 6:32 AM

      While I can give you the list of books I have, I haven’t actually used most of them.

      I can recommend some websites for grammar:
      (Although you probably are already aware of this:) http://www.talktomeinkorean.com
      http://parksguide.blogspot.com/ (it has a lot of good stuff for the basics, but not too much new stuff)
      http://ezcorean.com/ has a listing of grammar points
      http://www.koreangrammaticalforms.com/ (haven’t looked at this much, but looks to be pretty comprehensive)
      http://korean.sogang.ac.kr/ (a bit of material to bring you up from no Korean)

      As for books,
      Not for study, but for reference, “Using Korean: A Guide to Contemprorary Usage” by Miho Choo is an excellent grammar book.
      Bsides that, books I have but have not used (or used minimally) are:
      Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook
      Intermediate Korean: A Grammar and Workbook
      Elementary Korean
      Continuing Korean
      Foreign Service Korean
      Korean Grammar for International Learners
      Hippocrene’s Beginner’s Series
      Teach Yourself Korean
      My Korean 1 & 2 (textbook series available for free from the website: http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/korean/klec/ )

      I also used the “Let’s Speak Korean” video series of which there are up to 5 seasons, though certain seasons can be hard to access.

      A lot of stuff will end up being reference material rather than something to study by. Which, following the AJATT ( http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/ ) approach works with if you’re using native language material and just breaking it down. But depending on your current level that may be too advanced for you.

  • Reply
    10 July, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    i would recommend Korean Grammar in Use (both the beginner and intermediate)

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