Sunday, December 21, 2008

learning korean

so i have thrown myself pretty hard into learning korean now. the school year is essentially over, and i will soon have massive amounts of time on my hands. it is interesting for me to learn a foreign language at this point in my life in that i get to compare it to when i (and most US students?) first learned foreign languages (middle school through college).

the biggest difference is my amount of patience. when i was studying foreign languages the first time around (3 years of latin, 1 year of german, 3 disjointed years of french) i would get extremely frustrated not being able to express myself as well as i could in english and then see no use for it--what is the point in learning how to say 'there is a window in the classroom'? let's see if i can still remember: il y a une fenetre in dans classe that definitely is close, but definitely not right.

what else is helping me in studying a foreign language currently?

clearly living in a country wherein i dont speak the dominate language is a reason to give it a go. i mean, and i may have written about this before, i have many korean friends with varying degrees of english (from fluent to rocky), but i also know that that means i am interacting with a very specific segment of this country. granted, english education is now mandatory, but still not everyone excels in a mandatory subject.

so i desire to speak with more koreans, and to make my life easier, is there more than that? yes. i also want to show my korean friends that i am making an effort to meet them, there are times where i can tell they wish they could just speak korean with me. i know i won't reach that level of fluency any time soon, but just being able to make plans via text message in korean, i have been told, means alot to them.

also, there are basically about 4 people i can talk to at school currently (2 1/2s equal a whole) and many of my co-workers seem like genuinely nice people that i would at least like to be able to say something more than 'hello' to.

that is the basic sketch of why, here are my thoughts on the actual learning/what i am learning:

1. the inversion of english syntax is wild.
subject adjectives/prepositions direct object verb.
I smart at home korean am studying.

2. pronouns are often implied, but not used. this is nice as you don't conjugate verbs for each pronoun, it is basically 1 or 2 changes to the infinitive, and off you go.

3. currently i am just in the present tense. the closest thing to the future i can talk about is anticipating something. for example: 여자친구의 방문을 기대하고 있어요. in order: girlfriend her journey looking forward to. (i wish i had a hangul keyboard at home, it would help in practicing.)

being in the present tense is kind of fun. it makes my think i am an animal ('if a lion spoke, we wouldn't understand it'--or vice versa). i am eating, i want to sleep, i don't like him, etc.

4. pronunciation. oh what a treat this is. i laugh as when i try to use my korean if i am a little off in speaking people aren't quite sure what it is i am saying, whereas in my life here nearly everyone is a little off in what they say, but i get to use context clues to figure it out. i mean, when people were talking to me about 'the american erection' a few months ago, i knew what they meant. here, i can just meet someone and ask them their name and if i am a little off they look at me like they have no idea what i could possibly be saying. my friend rob made a decent point on this, namely how often do you think someone has spoken to them with an incredibly thick foreign accent. but still, work with me a bit, please.

anyway, that's it.


Al Cohen said...

it's an often embarrassing process, which is what turns many people off

of the many benefits you've listed, notto be forgotten is the rather mind-expanding process of language acqusition, you're teaching yourself an entirely new thought process, let alone the sounds and vocabulary.

you're making us proud!

tell those kids the american erection was widely celebrated and historic

Nada said...

il y a une fenetre dans la classe

but close!

I love that you're learning Korean. Never give up!