Learning Korean I

Monday | April 30th, 2012


Today I had my first (ever) language exchange. Normally, I like to lay down cash for things, but Gyeongju being what it is, e.g. an elaborate equation of befuddlification of the finances … I’m broke. Love the time off, but hate the damage to the pocket book. An opportunity crossed my path, another person passed on it, so I grabbed it. I should also say that I don’t like teaching privates and think language exchanges are a gong show of wanton and repressed sexual urges where no one really learns anything.

But these are all luxuries of circumstance which I can no longer afford, so they promptly went out the window with the usual expat-chip of I’m-too-proud-to-work-for-$10-an-hour-even-though-it’s-more-than-I-could-earn-in-my-home-country. Pickiness, here, means that I will have nothing. Time is abundant, thus “time” is the cheapest commodity (whereas in Seoul, “time” was often unaffordable).

Things appear to have worked out in the way that I want them to for the moment: my partner’s major is TKFL (Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language); has experience with broke and busted up Western folk; and is respecting my learning objectives. I do not want to traverse the Sogang books ever again. They are useful maybe the first time through, but then it’s stupid as you realize that no one you meet will ever want to talk about birthdays in high form honorifics. In ten years, not one Korean, other than a teacher, has ever asked me for directions, what I did on vacation, or what my experience was.

The Sogang books are great for a first time learner as they get you through some basic shit, but they aren’t practical beyond that. You can master the Sogang books and still be completely retarded about Korean as a language and not be able to do much.

This will be my fourth monitored attempt (fifth counting self-study) in ten years. From everything I’ve learned about Second Language Acquisition theories in the last few years, I KNOW Sogang books are a waste of my efforts. I expressed to my partner that I want to work on readers the same way English Language Learners (ELLs) read their way into the language. I have a sixth grade book that I was once within striking distance of reading. Now my level is probably around 1st or 2nd grade.

My partner is sensitive to this and is willing to work with me. We spent today only working on my Korean, so we will meet again on Fridays to work on English. Hopefully this system will bear good fruit …

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