23 In Korean learning journey (:

Stress of language learning

For many of use who don’t learn a new language, or who are learning a new language just for fun, we often forget how difficult and stressful language learning is. Sometimes I think I take for granted the fact that I know English and never give much thought to people who are say… taking a university degree in English, which they barely learnt for a few years.

I can only imagine the stress that they have to go through to pick up a language in the shortest possible time and to use it immediately in a tertiary education setting. Figuring out the language is hard enough, they still have to pick up the content and knowledge and write exams in English.

Sometimes English speakers take for granted our proficiencies and then wonder “they have been learning English for YEARS. How come they are still so inadequate at it??”. It’s somehow assumed that just because many people are learning English and quite a number get good at it that English becomes somehow associated as a ‘easy language to pick up’. And not being good at it somehow becomes associated with being bad and inadequate. Which is so not true. So next time, before we try to judge someone’s ‘bad English’ (I admit that I did it sometimes), think again. Do you think you will be able to be fluent in another language even though you are thrown into that country for a few years and undertook intensive language courses for like a year or something???? I highly doubt so.

We seldom think of a non-native fluent speaker of English as WOW THE PERSON IS SO FLUENT IN ENGLISH but we will be super impressed if someone non-native is fluent in say…. Russian.

I’m now studying Korean history using Korean and truly appreciate how difficult it is to do so even though I have been studying Korean for 4 years and can be considered as ‘advanced’… to a certain degree. But I can’t imagine myself being thrown into a Korean university and taking courses in Korean, writing exams in Korean etc.

I’ll probably die. It’s a thing to be reading a history book for leisure purposes and a totally different thing to be doing required readings in Korean. Whereas all my Korean classmates will breeze through the readings and focus on the content, I have to spend 3 times (or more) the time and effort to be able to understand all the new vocabulary, in addition to actually learning about the history and picking up the knowledge. And I can’t imagine writing an essay in Korean. I will probably struggle so badly with the language part, not to talk about making good arguments and writing a coherent and concise essay. ><;; And giving a presentation in Korean??? mmmmm I’ll probably write a complete script and be super nervous about it.. ><;;

So, please don’t take for granted that a non-native speaker has to be good in English, even though said person may be living in an English-speaking country. Using the example of English because it’s the most common 2nd language, but yeah, applies to all languages.

And I shall continue to work hard so that I can be totally fluent in Korean and read books damn fast.

p.s. I’m always most inspired to blog when I’m studying Korean. Tsk. Now back to the history book!!

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Eileen
    27 November, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    I like the topic you’re discussing in this blog post 😀 I agree that language learning is not easy at all , especially when it comes to learning technical terms and learning them in another language. Sometimes I also wonder , everyone are learning 2 languages since young , so are Singaporeans consider a native speaker of the english language? This sometimes make me wonder… what do you think? 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 9:26 PM

      mmm i guess it depends on how you see it. not all singaporeans learn english as their first language though. we learn them since young but it may be our 2nd language too. I think we can be counted as native, just that our English is different from the American / British pronunciation (:

  • Reply
    Liza
    27 November, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Woww..I’m so motivated with your determination in learning Korean. Hwaiting!!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      thanks!

  • Reply
    Elley
    27 November, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Haha! You missed the part where in exams, they are to write everything within the given time… lol! Thinking about it is making me stress already, well, I’m happy enough to be studying Korean on my own, and I plan to take TOPIK like maybe after a year or so! Hopefully I’m doing well by then..

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      ahhh yes totally!!! >< ;; cant imagine having to do that in korean. i can't even do that in chinese ><

  • Reply
    parfait
    27 November, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    It’s true. Although I’ve learned English since elementary school, I still have difficulties: especially idiom/slang <<_<

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 10:14 PM

      i’m also not that familiar with english slangs and am even worse when it comes to chinese idioms D:

  • Reply
    Karla
    27 November, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Such an eye opening post!Thanks

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 10:14 PM

      glad you enjoyed reading!

  • Reply
    Liyana
    27 November, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    People tend to take advantage on languages. I’ve become quite judgemental when people can’t talk well in English or pronounce well. I make mistakes as well in English. Somehow it become a habit when u know ur good in English and u tend to correct others. To learn any kind of language, it’s much more harder than most people think. Some people learn the basic part of languages. Once they start learning the depth of the language, then they know how hard it is. That’s what exactly happen to me as I’m currently doing my degree in English language.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      yes, exactly. it’s one thing to learn the basics of a language and another to really dive in and become fluent in it.

  • Reply
    Vapaw
    27 November, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    I love that you the have passion for learning Korean. It makes me want to be as passionate as you. I have the passion for language, but lack the study skills to study language. I love your blog by the way! Awesome blog! 😀

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      thanks Vapaw! 😀 Don’t think that you lack the skills! Keep going and you will be surprised at how much you know and learn!

  • Reply
    Van
    27 November, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    Wow I completely know what you mean! There are many non-native fluent english speakers at my university, and I’m so impressed on their fluency. But I’m even more impressed when I met a Korean couple that came here 4 years ago, and they get A’s in all these ridiculously hard chemistry courses that even native english speakers like myself struggle in!! Even though their speaking may not be great, their reading comprehension and understanding the concept is amazing. I know I would definitely die if I went to a Korean university with somewhat Korean knowledge.
    The only thing that I wish Korean schools worked on more is speaking. I feel like they neglect speaking so whenever a foreigner asks them a question, they just freeze up and don’t know what to say. I heard many foreign students come to Singapore to learn English. Is that true right?
    Anyways awesome blog by the way!! You have interesting topics that bring up much discussion^^ Keep up the good work!
    PS: one last question :p, are all like signs and stores etc written in Chinese and English?

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 November, 2012 at 11:39 PM

      yes i agree. speaking is arguably the “most visible” part of your language proficiency and that’s how people will judge your fluency too. It’s sad that the component is being given a backseat.

      yep! A lot of Asians come to Singapore to study English (: And nowadays there are a lot of Koreans here too! mmm most signs are written in english only, but there are still many signs written in chinese (usually selling chinese food, chinese medicine halls, traditional stuff) etc. There are quite a number of bilingual signs too. I guess it’s a good mix!

      Thanks for liking the blog!

  • Reply
    Angie
    28 November, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Hello again! In any way, picking up a brand new language is tough T___T being able to master a language is awesome. Like you!
    My lecturer told us a story about her course mate. Back then when she was studying in Germany, she had a Korean friend studying the same course. She told us that everything was in German, the lecture notes and everything. I guess she was good in German so she didn’t have any problem studying whereas what the Korean student did was he read the lecture notes once and then translated it to Korean to study again. That’s so much of effort!! T____T Put me in Korea I will end up failing my subjects XD
    Learning a foreign language is so hard but I want to be good in Korean and you’re an inspiration Haha!!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      28 November, 2012 at 11:52 AM

      yes!!! translation ><;; I have many Korean friends who do that too. Can't imagine the effort that is put in there. Kudos for effort, but it's not really an effective way and definitely not very sustainable in the long run

  • Reply
    Liza
    28 November, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Hi, I’m from Malaysia and currently I’m learning Korean. Everyday I follow your blog and I really really motivated with your own effort to learn Korean. I know it is not easy to learn it in foreign country, kudos for the effort.BTW, I’m not really good in English as it is my second language and I have problem with the grammar, I hate grammars!(Even though I’m studied Journalism). I start to develop my English after high school, studying in University and also working in the English-environment company.But, still I facing with the grammar and Manglish

    But, I managed to get good results for my degree which is taught in English. For me, I didn’t translate it into my first language, instead I try to understand it naturally. Learn any foreign language with fun, dont stressed yourself as it u will face difficulties as u going deeper, but trust me, no pain no gain. Good Luck!!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      28 November, 2012 at 8:51 PM

      thanks for liking the blo!! 😀 Glad that you are doing well in your degree! 😀 Understanding a language naturally is really important (:

  • Reply
    제이미
    13 December, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    한국어를 정말 잘 하십니다. 제가 봤을 땐 대학교에서 충분히 공부 하실 수 있을 거예요. 저도 싱가포르 사람인데 경희 대학원에서 석사과정을 마쳤습니다. 한국어로 시험 보고 수업 듣고 어려운 때가 있었지만 불가능한 것 없답니다. 열심히 하면 모두 잘 될 겁니다. 이 블로그을 읽으면서 저도 오랜만에 한국어 책을 꺼내야 겠다는 생각이 들어요. 화이팅 합시다. 아짜 아짜!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      13 December, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      안녕하세요!! ^^ 정말 대단하시네요. 제가 독학해 와서 그런지 다소 부족한 부분이 좀 있는 것 같아요. 학문적의 한국어는 약해요 ㅠ 한국어로 시험 보다니 대단하시네요! 대학원에서 전공이 뭐였어요? 궁금하네요 ^^ 개인적으로 한국학과에 관심이 많은데 아직 한국어로 역사책을 읽는 것은 어렵습니다 ㅠ 저도 나중에 꼭 대학원에 가려구요!

      댓글 남겨 주셔서 감사합니다!!

  • Reply
    제이미
    20 December, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    대단한 것 없습니다. 열심히 하면 되죠. 저는 국어국문학과를 공부했지만 한국어는 아직 어중간합니다. 한국어 문법에 관심이 있어서 그 쪽은 좀 더 연구했었는데 이제 거의 다 까먹었죠. 혼자 공부해서 참 힘드실텐데 참 훌륭하십니다. 백봉자 선생님의 은 참 읽을만한 책입니다. 교수님도 좋으신분입니다.^^

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