8 In Korean learning journey (:

Foreign language children stories are harder to read!

That goes against common sense, doesn’t it? Don’t children start off by reading children stories, then moving on to teenage fiction and then adult fiction?

But not so true for foreign language learning! Perhaps due to the way we are taught and how textbooks are structured, we are usually more comfortable with conversational topics. The vocabulary we learn are more ‘adult-like’.

It’s more likely that you will know the Korean word for ‘internet/subway’ compared to simple words like ‘genie/goblin/donkey’ etc. Somehow I know more medical terms in Korean than I do for children stories >.<

I’ll get stumped if you asked me what’s a turtle in Korean! (okay now I finally know it’s called 자라)

For traditional Korean folk stories like 흥부와 놀부 etc, some of expressions used by the characters are archaic. Which makes them harder to read. You don’t really see sentences like

어른에게 버릇없는 말은 안 해야 하느니라.

in modern day writings.

It’s frustrating sometimes. Not being able to read children stories XD There’s just so many foreign vocab that I have to use the Naver dictionary a few times in a sentence. ): Especially for the traditional stories!

What is your experience like? (:

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  • Reply
    7 June, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    I remember that turtle & rabbit story ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

  • Reply
    27 June, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Children don’t start by reading children’s stories… they start by having children’s stories read TO THEM. Regardless of what you read, it needs to be comprehensible (i.e., a very very low percentage of incomprehensible vocabulary). You are probably better off starting with the weather report, advertisements, etc. One sentence items. Books and stores of any variety are going to require a very large base vocabulary / cultural framework. Just keep at it.

  • Reply
    16 July, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    Ah, you made the same mistake that I did. I didn’t distinguish between books that were meant to be read TO children as opposed to books that were meant to be read BY children. The former are difficult to read and I spent lots of time learning the words for ghost, goblin, magic stick of plenty, etc. It was not exactly a useful investment of time. Books meant for young Korean readers may not always give you all the vocabulary you want, but they are definitely more useful. I have some illustrated readers about the seasons, getting ready for Chuseok, life in the family home (what’s in it, the daily routine). Those books are so much more satisfying.

    • Reply
      5 February, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      Ahaha! That’s probably why, in the drama Kim Sam Soon, the kid Mi Joo asked for a children’s book ‘Momo’ and another character, Hee Jin, asked if she can understand it already. And I was like, ‘It’s only a children’s book, why can’t she understand it?’ Maybe thats one of those books to be read TO children and not BY children. 🙂

  • Reply
    5 February, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I started learning how to read (my native language) through comics. I would ask my mom to read comics to me but I always get frustrated when she fall asleep while in the middle of a good story. So I was very enthusiastic in learning how to read (흑! I just realized I self studied reading too? My mom bought me a little how-to-read book and I remember reading it alone). And I practiced reading through comics too.

    I can’t really remember how I started learning English though. I do remember there were books in kindergarten in english already. Anyway, when I was in first grade, I was overwhelmed with my new school’s library (we don’t have one in kindergarten). The fact that I can borrow books and read them at home excites me (our family can’t afford to buy children’s book then). I usually borrow thin children’s book in English with colorful illustrations. I don’t remember having a hard time reading them though. And maybe being the only first grader who visits the library everyday, the librarian must have noticed me and my book choices. And one day she suddenly told me to stop borrowing childish books and move to young adult fiction (aka Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley). I remember being too scared with those books because it does look like a ‘real’ book now. Just plain small text, longer paragraphs, and no more illustrations. But scared with the librarian, I followed her suggestion and was addicted with it in no time. By the third grade I’ve improved my English A LOT. I think that those young adult fiction helped me in having a strong foundation of english. I moved to watching english movies/tv shows with english captioning on. And later on I managed to removed the caption.

    I’m trying to follow the same tracks for learning Korean. But just like you, i find the children stories quite difficult to read too. Was it because we are no longer kids? Or my Korean is really still very poor? Or it’s just really difficult? :p
    I would like to try reading 만화 someday… I’m going to ask my friend to get me 김삼순 만화 in Korea. ^^
    I love it when Korean movies/dramas have Korean subs in them. It’s easier to find movies with Korean subs, but very rare on dramas. 🙁 sad!

    • Reply
      6 February, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      I can’t remember how I learned english too. Chinese was actually my first language and I remember being apprehensive about reading in english and i used to read chinese kid stories only. but then i discovered enid blyton and hence i started reading english (:

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