22 In Japanese learning journey (:/ Korean learning journey (:

Creating link between you & the language

How long can I last?

I think this is a question that is constantly at the back of our heads. People start to learn a foreign language due to a huge variety of reasons, ranging from the need to move to the country for work/studies, love for an actor or simply because they want a pastime. But like it or not, most of these ‘motivations’ don’t last.

There’s always something more important. Work, kids, studies, lack of time. Unless you are compelled to learn that language, most of the time, foreign languages are the bottom in our to-do lists.

Even if you are enthusiastic about the language, the nagging question is always there. You find yourself stuck at the grammar points, lament about your lack of vocabulary and you wonder what you can achieve with your strange accent.

Thinking back, I was probably not very enthusiastic about Korean at first. I just want to ‘learn a foreign language’ and it was not out of some strong conviction that I happen to choose Korean. It was kind of a ‘sounds interesting, why not try’ kind of mentality.

It was after a few months that a link was created and I felt really bonded with Korean. I didn’t give much thoughts to it, but I realized that it was the community of learners and the teachers (Hyunwoo Sun & Kyeongeun Choi) that created the link for me. They were teaching at Koreanclass101.com at that time and I was very very very much in awe of their enthusiasm and approachability. [They are now at talktomeinkorean!!]Looking at all the comments of the learners and how there was loads of interactions between the learners and teachers made me very very excited to join the community.

Korean was no longer ‘a language on paper’. There was a community, and suddenly it became real to me. I look forward to every lesson and the comments section. I learn a lot about Korean culture and Korea from there and it made me want to learn more.

I stopped asking how long I can last. But rather, I just look forward to everyday of learning.

That was not the only link created. I coincidentally bought Big Bang’s autobiography one day – without knowing who they were. I just wanted a Korean book and that one happened to look interesting. Read bits and pieces of it, and thought the boys were really inspirational. Looked them up on youtube – and I was hooked. Another link created.

Made my first Korean friend online. Another link created.

Tried Korean food for the first time. Another link created.

Created a blog. Another link created.

The list can go on forever. The links that held me to the language are so strong now, I don’t think I can ever cut them all off. Not that I have any inclination to do so.

I think the ‘trick’ to learn a foreign language is to create as many links as possible to the language. Make sure ‘studying the language’ becomes one of your priorities, instead of something that is reserved for ‘your free time’.

That being said, I’m learning Japanese now with no links to the language at all. The only link that I have is the fact that Japanese is similar to Korean. I learn Japanese almost solely through Korean resources. I like to see the differences and similarities between the two languages and the nuances.

I don’t listen to Japanese music. Except those by DBSK and Big Bang…

I don’t really watch Japanese dramas

I have no idea about Japanese culture

I don’t know about Japan

ermmm… I eat Japanese food but that’s besides the point ㅎㅎ

I wonder how long I can last like this. If I can be relatively fluent in Japanese next time, maybe I’ll take back my words that links are absolutely needed in order to learn a language ㅎㅎ

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  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Now that you mention the ‘link’, I realize that’s what keeps me coming back to Korean. I originally picked up Korean because I was addicted to dramas, later on it was Korean music, then Korean variety shows. When my interests for these faded, I stopped studying Korean (for about 6 months). Having a Korean conversation with a Korean classmate gave me the drive to start learning again… and also the drive to start watching Korean dramas! (not sure if that’s a good thing, heh)

    I also tried learning Spanish, solely because I like Salsa songs. That ‘link’ wasn’t enough to sustain my interest and Spanish became somewhat of a chore, so I dropped it.

    Very thought-provoking post! Looking forward to more posts like these 😀

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Thanks Amanda!! Having a link to anchor your interest in the language is really important. I wanted to learn Spanish too. Chayanne is one of my fav singers but like you said, the link isn’t strong enough. It just seems ‘too far off’ for me at the moment and I doubt I have the money to go to Spain at all or have anything to do with the culture or country ㅎㅎ

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    よろしく! Just like you, i’ve been self-learning a foreign language for about 4 years?And that’s 日本語。 What created the first link or got me started was being hooked onto the j-dorama 金田一少年の事件簿 and then the manga and then listening to Kinki Kids. ^_^ Been following your blog for about a year or so even though i’m not learning Korean..ハハ。。おかしいね。Hope you’ll create your first link with Japanese , solely based on Japanese in no time soon! Looking forward to more 日本語勉強 posts!じゃ!

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      I hope to create a link with Japanese soon too! 😀 I have a few Japanese friends but we are all learning Korean ㅎㅎ Will definitely work hard for Japanese too!!

  • Reply
    Andy Tebay
    29 February, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    People do not realise how important linking yourself either intentionally or unintentionally are. I would say it is the determining factor in whether you succeed in learning a language or not.

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    For Korean Langauage, I learn it cos I like the to watch the dramas, listen to the songs, love the culture & the food. For Mandarin, it’s the same thing. To know the language & understand it, gives you greater understanding of the people & culture which I love so much. When I listen songs in Mandarin & Korean, due to the fact that I understand the language , it makes appreciate the song better cos I understand the feeling. Not just for the song but for the dramas & when I talk to people in their language, they are happy to hear you speak in their language (communication barrier breaks). It gives you that happiness for both the person & yourself that I can’t describe in words. For me, I don’t learn a language due to work but because I have an interest in the Language. I feel very strongly as in I have great interest in the language

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Learning Korean really brought me loads of joy. ^^

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    the best way to last forever is to stay in Korea or marry a korean…

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      LOL!!!! can’t disagree with that ><

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I studied Japanese on my own originally because of the influence of anime that was subtitled instead of dubbed (this was late 90s, early 2000s) but during college I made Japanese friends whom introduced me to drama, music, food, and history. It was fun and easy to learn because of all the motivations – I can talk to my friends in their native tongue, I can show my appreciation for their culture, and if I have questions then they can answer them.

    Korean presents its own new set of challenges. But shows like Running Man and We Got Married definitely help bridge the gap 🙂

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      Running man!! 😀 😀
      It takes different motivations for each language. Hope you find more links to Korean soon ^^

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Great post! I actually tried learning Japanese before starting Korean because my friend made me, and it really bored me out. After a while I just started skipping lessons =/ The only link I had with Japanese was the food, which wasn’t enough to keep me going. I feel that exposure to the language definitely matters. One doesn’t actually have to sit down and ‘study’ Korean, so as to speak, as long as you’re exposed to the language, be it kdrama or kpop etc. You’re always learning something (via diffusion! ㅋㅋ) through those while actually enjoying the process! ^.^

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      hahaha food 😀 😀 yeahh I still can’t find that vital link to Japanese too. And having classes in school is not helping. i dread those lessons.

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    That’s interesting. I’m kind of going the other way here. I really like learning Korean through 漫画 and アニメ that’s been translated and dubbed into Korean.

    The thing is, you will discover these links if your really look for them. I used to really hate Anime. I never liked to listen to the Japanese voices. It was really odd to me. Now it’s pains me to watch Anime dubbed in English, unless it’s Pokemon.

    Don’t feel the need to rush into it. You will find there’s a lot of awesome interesting things in Japanese, and there’s also a lot of crap. Just like here in Korea. Just like in America. Just like everywhere!

    I really like this article about creating links. It reminds me of when I was first learning Japanese. I joined a Japanese language Meetup group in Boston. It was the best thing I had ever done. I had never met anybody from Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka before. I got to teach them bad words and they taught me easy common expressions. It really helped get me through the tough times. The struggles. The days or weeks where I wouldn’t feel like doing anything in Japanese.

    Thanks again for sharing! You are one of my links! And now you’ve motivated me to open up my 만화!


    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      Thanks Zach!

      having a meetup group is one of the best things ever 😀 Beats learning about culture, food etc over the internet or books.

      Time for me to look for some links to Japanese!

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    hmm.My situation is that I have created too many links that I find it hard to juggle between Korean and Japanese.And that’s the reason why I’m still in beginner level in both languages XD

    • Reply
      29 February, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      LOL!! 😀 that’s a first xD Try focusing on one first while maintaining interest in both. Perhaps that will help!

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    I’ve always had the stronger link with Korean but it is not the first East Asian language I tried to learn. I learned beginner Japanese and Mandarin first before embarking on taking a Korean class.

    Back then, my drive for learning Japanese was the strongest because Tohoshinki (5명) was still active and I loved their Japanese songs over their Korean songs. I loved that they sang with their hearts and I would have loved it if I understood the words that they sang… Oh well, they’re not five now so I’m left with no link to study Japanese! I have Japanese relatives but I can talk to them with our native language so it is not a link too. You said about not having links yet… but you’re making a link with your Japanese study already. Maybe you’ll find something interesting along the way.

    However for Korean, all links are there. I had Korean classmates in high school (they go to my country to learn English), I watch bajillions of Korean dramas a year, I devour Korea’s culture as much as my own, etc. I think it all boils down to which culture you’re really interested with because learning the language is parallel to learning the culture.

    I still want to learn Japanese and Mandarin however I might have to find ‘newer’ links aside from my current ‘drive’ that I want to learn those three East Asian languages for world domination (lol just joking) HAHA.

  • Reply
    29 February, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    I only have one link – Kim Sun Ah. But that one great link extends to an seemingly unending networks of intertwined links. For example, I don’t watch sageuk dramas, but Kim Sun Ah said she watches one, so I also watched it and got interested in saguek dramas, then later on Korean history. I love Kim Sun Ah’s drama, and it was adapted from a novel, so I got a copy of a novel and got me interested in Korean literature. And the list goes on. I know it may be quite ‘dangerous’ to ‘put all my eggs in one basket’, but the links she created between me and Korean is too much intertwined all together that it would still hold on even if my great link got cut off for some reasons (which I hope won’t happen – well, I think it won’t happen anyway).

    I guess this also answers why I didn’t do well in Japanese but is kinda okay with Mandarin. I only have one link to Japanese (Kim Sun Ah) but it’s not strong enough and it’s not connected to anything else. But in Mandarin, although I only have a few links to start with, I keep creating more and more as I study and expose myself to the language. ^^

  • Reply
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