I think I’m in one of those moods again. Getting worked up over peanuts and then wondering why the heck am I so annoyed a few hours later.
Recently, I’ve been asked quite a number of questions. And I noticed how sometimes the asker already has an answer in mind and all I’m supposed to do is to corroborate with whatever he/she has in mind. They are just asking to hear the answer that they are seeking. Of course, I get a whole range. From mildly amusing to downright annoying.
For the mildly amusing (interesting?).
A lot of people like to ask me if Korean is a difficult language to learn. Both Koreans and foreigners (who may or may not be learning Korean). I usually have a range of answers, depending on whether I want to honest, thoughtful or accommodating. lol.
My most honest answer is:
It’s not difficult. I won’t be arrogant and call it “easy”. There are certain challenges but I’ve never felt stuck while learning Korean. Maybe I do have an affinity with Korean, cos I absorb everything really fast and I’ve never felt that anything was particularly difficult. I learn vocabulary fast, same for the the grammar points. Of course, everything still takes time (language learning is cumulative), but I do find that I’ve a pretty fast and smooth learning journey.
Most people find that answer hard to accept. There must be something difficult right? It can’t be all that easy? Omg are you a monster? Wow, you are crazy.
My Korean friends usually find that answer harder to accept. I think that’s because they try to compare it to their own English learning journeys and then start thinking that they have spent twice the time and probably loads more effort (memorizing) but they are still not good enough. But there also a lot of other people who give me that raised eyebrow.
I even have people insisting that I was lying and it can’t possibly be not difficult. The other day I got needled and the person threw out a few properties of Korean and asked if they aren’t difficult. What about the grammar? It’s so different from English. How about this. How about that.
Most of the time I end up backpedaling a little and then agree with them. Yeah the sentence structure is so different. Yeah verb endings are confusing. Yeah I’m not used to the pronunciation. Yeah the grammar is hard. Yeah there are so much tough vocabulary I find it hard to remember.
And it usually put them more at ease. o.O
Just out of curiosity, I also asked the same question on Facebook. There’s a whole range of answers, which is normal, given out we each have our own weak areas. I love the answer from Esther, and I totally agree with her.
I think it’s as hard as you think it will be. When I first started studying Korean, all the information I looked up said Korean is one of the hardest languages to learn …I let all of that eat my brain and was having a very difficult time learning at first. Until I took on a ‘I’m going to take it day by day’ mindset and it got a lot better. With that in mind….the biggest challenge I faced was 한글 (getting used to it and whatnot) and a lot of context stuff. But I still take it day by day and I’ve gotten a lot better. To the point where I have a few Korean internet penpals and I can communicate with them in Korean most of the time ^.^
Absolutely. I can relate to that. Because I used to find Japanese extremely hard and all that conjugations damn confusing. Well, I really do find Japanese a lot tougher than Korean, but a large part of the “difficulty” I faced stemmed from the fact that I already classified Japanese as “difficult” and it stuck. There’s that mental block where I look at Japanese and the first thought is “damn difficult”. Using Esther’s words, it really ate my brain and I ended up feeling lousy and being lousy. That mentality is (for the most part) gone and that was how I made my breakthrough in Japanese. I’m still horrible at using / speaking it (since I don’t), but reading has progressed nicely.
Back to the topic. On the more annoying end of the spectrum, people have been trying to get me to say that the whole trip has been a waste and it was a bad judgement call. And that I should have “woken up to reality” earlier and just get a stable job and be done with it. No way am I entertaining that. What kind of satisfaction do you get if you hear that from me?
And yes. I have decided to stay here and work. Does that mean I am defeated? That I lost to my own dreams and crawled back to reality? Nope. The mentality is different. I am completely at ease with myself and I’m looking at a new path in life (that I have chosen), instead of feeling that I have lost (to myself, my dreams, whatever) and am forced into a path that I hate.
I do admit that I’m still trying to navigate a life where Korean doesn’t play a central part (5.5 years is a long time…) and to explore my other potentials. (: That, I won’t deny. Like I said, I don’t know if fate (or stubbornness) will pull Korean back into my world, but I have to learn to let go a little.
If you have any preconceived answers in mind, don’t bother asking me those questions.
I’m no longer going to feed your ego, insecurities, mindset, whatever.