5 In Korean learning journey (:

The after-beginner stage

This post is inspired by a friend who mentioned that ‘you know, i’m realizing that the stage after the ‘beginner’ stage is quite challenging in learning a language~~‘.

That got me thinking, and I realised that it’s true. It’s the stage where you start to realise the complexities of the language, and for those who are first-timers in learning a foreign language, they will realise the complexities and difficulties of learning a whole, brand new language.

Personally, I find it impossible to progress beyond the beginner stage without understanding the culture. It’s possible to treat languages as ‘technical problems’ and apply the skills of pattern finding and logic during the initial stages of language learning. After all, grammar is (at its most superficial), patterns that you can memorise and apply to create sentences. It’s rule based and once you get the hang of it, you can form the sentences. However, past that initial stage, you can no longer ignore the culture.

It’s so difficult to understand the honorific system and all that complexities in the addressee terms if you don’t understand how that comes about. Instead of finding it interesting, you will probably be annoyed and frustrated by its seemingly ridiculous complexity. Yet, the perspective is changed if you are genuinely interested in finding out how the language and culture is linked and learning becomes much more enjoyable and easier.

The after-beginner stage also the time when it’s the easiest to give up on learning. It’s that time when the task ahead seems too daunting and you may begin to question how much time you have to spend on learning the language, your abilities at mastering the language etc etc. Loads of questions and doubts. Something more important comes along, and whether you truly want it or not, you end up neglecting studying and as time passes, you forget what you have learnt. It’s a normal process and it’s always doubly difficult to re-learn things.

The friend just brought up another point which I completely agree with. I feel like after learning the basics, it’s also harder to see progress, which seemed so fast at the early stages. One of the best motivations to continue learning is progress and results. It’s satisfying to see how much you are progressing and progress is the fastest at the beginner stages. For most people, the transit beyond is not of gradual difficulty but a discontinuity. __ ㅡ

Frustration is common and I remembered feeling abit lost and unsure of how to continue. It’s doubly difficult with Korean, which has alot of conjugations and particles, which makes it difficult to delimit a word at the beginning. Unlike English, where you clearly know what is a word and can easily input it in the dictionary.

돌아오는 길에 내가 수녀원까지 모셔다 드린다는 것을…..

Imagine looking at this sentence (taken from the book I’m reading now). Applying what you know in English, you may try to input 수녀원까지 into the dictionary and obviously nothing will come out. haha. I remember feeling absolutely flummoxed when I first starting learning Korean on my own (even before taking beginner lessons). I was trying to decipher some lyrics and stupidly tried to input the ‘words’ into the dictionary. And wondering why I can’t get any results. hahahha. I tried to treat all languages like English and obviously that was a wrong move.

With all that being said, there’s no ‘method/key’ that will guarantee progress to the next stage. As clique and unhelpful as it seems, the only method is interest and passion. ^^ 


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  • Reply
    17 May, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    haha i understand the dictionary part! coz i totally did that too =/ i used the hardcopy kind of dictionary somemore, so i kept thinking i was searching the wrong spelling. it was only after i had lessons that i learnt how to change from plain form to others, including the irregular verbs haha!

    • Reply
      17 May, 2011 at 10:56 PM

      hahaha i was so frustrated at not even being able to use the dictionary 😀

    • Reply
      19 May, 2011 at 2:27 AM

      i’m guilty too! i was so excited after i learned how to read that i went ahead and look up words in the dictionary without any success. lol

  • Reply
    18 May, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    totally agree….

  • Reply
    19 May, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    I feel like after learning the basics, it’s also harder to see progress, which seemed so fast at the early stages. —> Agree! *sigh!*

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