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Korean Language Mission 2016

하얀 풍차Memorial Day marked the fourth anniversary of my arrival in the state of Georgia, and it was also four years ago that I began learning the Korean language. Although I’ve learned a lot, I know that I could be much farther along in the language if I had applied myself during those four years.

Language learning is tricky, and often something that you can’t rush. However, you can make significant progress if you make time every day for study and practice, and get some momentum going. And that’s what my goal is for the summer of 2016.

From June 1st through August 31st, I will be intensively learning the Korean language. The well-known Irish polyglot Benny Lewis has done several language missions in which he goes from essentially zero to reasonable fluency in 3 months, so I figure if he can do that, I can definitely go from an intermediate level to fluency in 3 months!

For 79 days (I’m taking Sundays off), I will study and practice Korean for at least two hours every day. I estimate my current level in the language to be A2, and my goal is to reach level B2 (CEFRL).

In the last few months I have become lazy with my language learning, but no more! Too many times I have taken the easy way out and spoken English to Korean people, but from here on out, I am enacting a strict no-English policy when talking to Koreans. Also, I essentially live in the Koreatown of Georgia, but I have not really taken advantage of this opportunity to practice speaking Korean. This summer I’m going to go out of my way to put myself in this immersion environment more often.

I will be making mini missions along the way, to have smaller achievable goals to tackle. I will also try to identify which aspects of the language are giving me trouble, and solve those as quickly as possible.

If you would like to stay updated on my progress during these 3 months, why not follow me on Instagram? I will be posting at least one picture every day to document my language learning adventures.

The first three days of the language mission have been good, and I am excited about the rest of the summer! Now, enough of blogging–I think I hear some flashcards calling my name…

Stop the U.S. Imperialists from sneaking into your house!

So, today I happened to be browsing a North Korean website—that’s totally normal, right? Well, the truth is, I don’t do this often, since North Korean websites generally serve up an uninteresting array of news related to what Kim Jeong-eun is up to, and how awful South Korea and America are. But this time I was surprised to see a button labeled “Game”—not only did it promise something more interesting, but they used an English word that South Korea has adopted, but which I would expect the northern comrades to avoid. At any rate, I was ready to play some North Korean computer games!

Not all of them would load (North Korean servers aren’t known for their speedy page delivery), but I got a few to fire up. First I played a geography game with a map of the Korean peninsula, the goal being to recognise each province and major city by its shape, and then stick it in the proper place on the map. I didn’t do too bad, despite my very limited knowledge of Korean geography! Read More

Today I Went to Korea

OK, not literally. But I do live in Duluth, the heart of Korean-speaking Georgia, and today I went to a language exchange in a Korean bakery to practice speaking the language. With Korean things all around me, I sure felt like I was in Korea!

It was the first time I had really spoken Korean with human beings, and although I am very limited on what I can say, it was challenging and exciting to me. And the cool thing is that now I feel like I have a context for the Korean language. Let me explain what I mean.

Up to this point, Korean has been a language that I hear on the radio, in the audio lessons I am following, and in music I listen to. But the brain loves connexions, and Korean didn’t have a connexion to real people or a real place. Now my Korean experience has truly begun, and the language has come alive to me in the people I know who speak it and the places where it is spoken.

Now that I’ve had this experience, I believe it will make learning the language much more interesting, and I believe I will be more motivated. No longer is Korean a jumble of topic marking particles, counter words, and implied pronouns. It’s a beautiful language used by people who live and work all around me, and I’m excited to discover their world!