Learning Survival Korean (Part II)

Hangul Chart

Hangul Chart

Note: Apologies to readers- I’m still in the shuffle learning about my new blog site, so this post was accidentally released before my final edit. I’ve since updated it. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

This week:

Countdown to Korea,  my Self-Taught Language Lessons and an update on my Speed Learning
The countdown to my Korea launch date has officially begun so roughly put,… I’m trying to speed learn Korean. My learning obstacle?  I’m kinda vacillating between a silent freak out and a scattered panic.  A few weeks ago, I started my search for the Cinderella’s glass slipper of grammar books that would ultimately teach me Korean in the simplest fashion, but I never found it. Alas, disheartened, I’ve had to learn from the scattered leaflets of various materials.  I’ve tried to avoid the “survival phrase book” path, but ultimately, found Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook to be the best grammar teacher for the simple fact there’s a short introductory section which focuses on basic Korean grammar rules.

Okay- so “survival” it is…

My Hangul Hump

On an *awesome* note:  Hangul is the written alphabet of Korean- the Kimchi Kanji– and you can easily digest it in a day or two!  It’s comprehensive chart consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants (Yeah- that’s it!!! Imagine how I spent hours searching for the rest of it and getting frustrated with myself for not finding it…) and its brush stroke count per alphabet are few and simple to remember. Thank God. So I can at least read store signs and the words on a restaurant menu page- now only to figure out what they mean! The picture above is a Hangul chart.

If you’re teaching English in Korea- how can you not speak Korean?
Everyone always asks this question and they forget, I’m going there to teach English, not Korean. Duh. ESL teachers are only required to speak English in their classes (to be vegetarian and be able to get that across in Korean is a different story…). Does this actually work? Hell yeah! I took French 101 at the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) in New York three years ago and learned through this very method. The teacher spoke our entire beginner class in French and if you had a question, you had to reponde in Francaise. It’s a very “sink or swim” method-  part speed learning, part immersion and almost 100% survivalist! Not saying that you’re thrown in with sharks but you get the drift…you just start paddling wildly! So the technique worked and because the class moved with gusto, I actually absorbed the language quicker.

Everyone develops their own personal tricks to learning and training their memory to accept a foreign language.
Listening to phonetics, word-picture association, flashcards, highlighting words, learning rules of grammar and repetition-repetition-repetition!.. I’ve used several of these techniques in the past to know- what ultimately seals my learning is “immersion”.

Listening to foreign radio news, pop music, language tapes and reading foreign magazines, all help the self-taught language student in me to gain familiarity with a new language & the way it’s used socially. It exercises the various forms of reading, writing, and listening comprehension skills in a fun and leisurely way and without cracking the “I MUST…THIS IS WORK…UGH!” penitentiary whip. The more you enjoy the learning process and become familiar with hearing a language spoken, the more your mind opens to its absorption.

One of my favorite language aids is watching foreign films.
I love foreign films, as much as I love learning languages. I’ve gone through obsessive periods where I’ve crash-dieted on French, German and Bale! Bale! Bollywood films to the extent that an alien language gets to feel more natural and I get to feeling the groove.  If you’ve ever questioned the power of learning through films and television, let me say- there’s a ginormous Hallyu (the Korean Hollywood) and K-drama craze in Hawaii with a local fan following, who can spout off Korean words and phrases at the snap of a finger! Yup. I have grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts and cousins that leave me in the dust with their Korean soap opera vocabulary. It reminds me of when I was in Thailand- the only 5’8″ NYC urban-saavy Asian on a “bicycle” on the road among cars, motorcycles and scooters, and everyone from teens to little old ladies… (and midget people!) were racing by me. It was … very humbling.

Yes, staring at the tube isn’t going to turn you into a mind-numbing idiot- it can actually be educational (if you want to look at it that way…) Learning about a country’s culture by watching their films isn’t only about learning vocabulary words and testing your listening skills. Films teach you about the social values, mentality, latest fashion trends (like how Koreans seems to fit the Las Vegas style of Asia)  and beliefs of the culture. You can learn about a country’s favorite stereotypes, its ways of expression, as well as its ideals… and fantasies.

I’ll be posting a list shortly of  Tips to Speed Learning a New Language.  As well as, The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned about Korean culture through K-dramas.

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