Korean Headache

Well, I’ve spoken and studied more Korean in the last few weeks than I have in several years. Basically, I got myself a tutor, a wonderful student from past semesters named Young Ah someone suggested to me would be a good tutor for me.

One of my favorite phrases from among the ones she’s taught me, in the “free talk” part of our lessons, is “머리에 쥐나다” which translates as “to get a cramp in the head.” Such as, “I studied so hard my head cramped up.”

The thing about studying it and using it with my tutor is that I’m now using Korean more with other people. In the past week I’d say 70% of my conversations — even with foreigners — have included a little Korean at least, and some conversations have involved a lot of Korean. I’m writing email with the language again — even though I feel a little embarrassed by the fact my expressiveness and hold on nuance is roughly that of a little kid. I occasionally chat online in Korean, sometimes at length that would have surprised me only a few months ago. I’ve even started drafting little poems in Korean, which is no small endeavour. They’re not great, but they’re not horrible.

Anyway, I’ll be bringing along a Korean textbook and working my way through it this summer, with the goal of finishing the book by the time I return to Korea at the end of summer. Then I’ll be set to dive into something new, I think, in terms of study. Too bad my schedule precludes me taking a course at my Uni, and that the Korean language schools are all so far away. (Well, except the local one offered for migrant workers, at which I’d be welcome — some others who live in my building attend courses there — but which I think I can’t attend because of scheduling issues.)

3 thoughts on “Korean Headache

  1. Just out of curiosity, which textbook will you using?

    Regardless, I’m also planning on studying Korean seriously this summer (just found a great social science research job here for instance…but unfortunately it requires fluent Korean), so for the sake of motivating each other and so on perhaps we could study together somehow? Naturally, no offense if you don’t want to though, and I admit that it would be the first time I’ve ever studied (anything) with anyone else.

  2. James,

    Well, actually, I’m casting about for a good textbook. I’ll be pumping my friend Charles for his wife’s opinion. Muhaha. I’ve heard good things about what I vaguely recall (but I’m not sure) might be some book put out by the University of Hawaii or someplace?

    The best one I have on hand, I think, is the book put out by 성균관대학 (I have book 2) but I haven’t studied it much. I do plan on bringing it with me during my travels, but I chose that book mainly because it’s the lightest, has the best dialogs, and is the most recent of all my books.

    As for studying together, I dunno how practicable it is at such a distance, especially while traveling. Were you to move to Seoul, I’d be up for a Korean chat club — in fact, a neighbor who’s at roughly my level expressed interest in such a club, and we may try form one — but online, I’m not sure how it would work.

    I’ll probably start blogging occasionally (perhaps on an extended section of this site) in Korean, though.

    Ah, and one more absolutely killer study tool — I have a freebie Korean-English dictionary on my iPod. It’s not perfect — there are kinks in the linkage of verbs in different conjugations back to the root verb, for example — but it’s an excellent resource with wildcards, a search history useful for reviewing or tabulating study, and so on.

  3. The University of Hawaii textbooks you’ll be thinking of are the KLEAR Integrated Korean series. They are indeed very good – with the most understandable grammar explanations I’ve ever come across especially – and so I used the first four of them way back in 2002 or so. I was forced to stop though, for 2 reasons. First because back then the only way to listen to their audio files was to visit the university website (not exactly convenient), or to buy a CD…for the same price as the book(!), but fortunately now they have all been converted to MP3s and are downloadable, although these days and with your netbook and all it wouldn’t be a big deal anyway. The other big problem was that neither the textbooks nor the workbooks actually had answers to their questions in them – at all – so unless you have someone to check them then they’re virtually useless. I haven’t looked in a couple of years though, so answers may be provided in later editions.

    As for studying together, I wasn’t really thinking of doing something in real time so to speak. More like being mutual recipients of said Korean emails and/or tweets and so on, giving each other lists of vocab and or grammar we’re each studying to test each other on later etc. etc. But it’s no big deal if you don’t have the time or already have enough help with that sort of thing from your tutor. As you know, my need to get someone to help me stop procrastinating and stay disciplined about studying is probably much greater than yours! :)

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