My new hobby: Korean language 한극어Posted: August 28, 2011
I love studying languages in general. In my life, I’ve studied Mandarin, Vietnamese, Latin, German, Spanish, but my first love was always Japanese language. I don’t know why, but I think it was something about growing up in Seattle, where there’s a strong Japanese community and exposure to the culture, that has always made me very interested in that language in particular.
However, my other favorite language has always been Korean too. Seattle also has a large Korean community, and I remember having lots of Korean friends growing up, and the language always fascinated me. I learned a few basic words (“thank you”, “rice please”, etc), but language resources for Korean are fewer than Japanese, and I didn’t know where to start. By the time I got into college, I kind of gave up, and focused on Japanese instead.
Lately I decided to take up the hobby again, this time for good. I’ve studied Japanese for 3 years, and the JLPT N2 exam is only a few months away, so I feel I’ve learned the basics enough that I can afford to learn a second language. Of course, I am not, not fluent in Japanese at all, but I don’t have to spend all my time learning basic grammar and basic vocabulary anymore. Most of my studying now involves repetition and practice (e.g. listening practice, conversation practice, learning more vocab, etc) which is more long-term practice, less study.
Thus, I took a look at a helpful page online that taught me how to read the Korean alphabet. I never was able to read the alphabet completely, but after a few days of practice, I feel I read it OK now. Not great, but enough to read and spell slowly.
But I what I really wanted to do is finally learn Korean grammar. I’ve learned words and phrases over the years, but not the underlying, so I decided to sign up for KoreanPod101.com. I used JapanesePod101.com years ago when living in Ireland to practice Japanese in a gradual way, building upon each lesson, getting pronunciation help, etc. The only reason I stopped following JPod101 was that I had moved beyond the lessons there into reading Japanese books and watching TV with my wife.
But since it was very helpful, and since it’s the same company, I tried the 7-day trial for KoreanPod, liked it and decided to register.
It’s nice because I can finally learn how to make basic sentences. My experience with Korean right now is just enough to say:
- My name is Doug.
- I am American.
- I am an office-worker.1
Not very stimulating conversation, but I am happy I learned this much so far. I tested this on a Korean friend I went camping with recently, and got good feedback, so I am happy.
Anyhow, I don’t expect my Korean to be as strong as Japanese, but I just decided I would be happy making enough progress to get basic conversation, and hopefully more. Either way, it’s nice to finally make some progress after all these years, and finally learn the other language I enjoy.
1 The Korean word, 회사원 (hoesawon) is basically the same as the Japanese word sarariman (サラリマン) in terms of practical usage.