It occurs to me that I am really well-positioned to pick up Korean, and I don’t mean in terms of taking lessons in a classroom.
I learn almost all my Korean while watching kdrama, and I always, always get a thrill when a connection clicks in my brain and I learn something new.
Friends whom I’ve watched kdrama with have consistently pronounced me weird and somewhat freaky because of my ability to do that, which is what got me thinking.
Without thinking about it, I’d kind of assumed that most people would pick up the language similar to the way I pick it up, so when I realized that my friends found it freaky and I gave it some thought, I realized that I really am quite uniquely positioned to pick up Korean.
A LANGUAGE BENT
First of all, I’ve always enjoyed languages. Though I don’t exactly enjoy studying them in classrooms, I have the ability to reproduce an accent fairly well, once it is demonstrated to me.
Because of this, picking up phrases in foreign languages has always been a bit of a thrill for me.
In my first job, colleagues from India got a real kick out of teaching me phrases in Tamil so that I could answer basic questions over the phone.
Indian colleagues calling in to the department would come away really puzzled, and they’d ask other people, “Is there a new Indian girl in that department??”
That gave me and my Indian coaches a real thrill, I tell ya 😉
Of course, that affair with Tamil was only a brief fling, and now, I can only remember the barest details of those Tamil lessons.
Now I apply that heaven-sent ability towards picking up Korean, and when I use some basic phrases on the Korean ahjusshis and ahjummas at Korean food stalls, my friends come away thoroughly convinced that I am fluent in Korean! So not true – yet! 😉
I’ve even been mistaken as Korean, by Koreans, upon my initial self-introduction.
Of course, the illusion fell apart soon after, when I couldn’t keep up with the spoken Korean, but the point is, the pronunciation was good enough to fool a native, and that gives me a bit of affirmation, that I’m saying it right 🙂
Besides my language bent, though, I also have my history to thank, in terms of positioning me to pick up Korean.
A BRIEF JAPANESE FLING
Although I don’t generally enjoy formal language lessons, I did sort of enjoy Japanese lessons, which I took in school on top of my required curriculum for a couple of years.
At the time, Japan and all things Japanese were taking the world by storm, and learning Japanese was the coolest thing ever. If you managed to snag a student exchange gig to Japan, all the cooler. (I didn’t)
After 2 years of lessons, though, I reluctantly threw in the towel.
At the beginning of my third year, the sensei said, “From now onwards, I will only speak to you in Japanese.” Ouch.
That was the beginning of the end for me, basically. I stopped understanding what she said in class, and I couldn’t even understand basic requests that she made and instructions that she gave in class. So not productive.
3 months into that, I quit. I kinda had to, since y’know, I couldn’t understand a thing she said.
What I did take away with me, though, was an understanding of the sentence structure in the Japanese language.
It had been weird – but useful – getting used to the sentence structure of “Subject-Object-Verb” since in English we use “Subject-Verb-Object.” What this basically means is that “I love you” in English becomes “I you love” in Japanese: わたしは、あなたを愛しています.
I found that even though the order of these elements is less strictly applied in Korean, this “Subject-Object-Verb” structure is often used, and “I love you” is expressed as 나는 당신을 사랑합니다 or something similar, depending on the form and formality chosen by the speaker.
Without formal Korean lessons to explain those workings to me, having an understanding of that sort of structure from my days in Japanese class was a real bonus.
On top of that, there are also some loan words from the Japanese language in the Korean language, and remembering some of the Japanese words that I’d learned in school did help me identify similar words in Korean.
A LOVE-HATE AFFAIR WITH MANDARIN
I vividly remember crying lots and lots of tears in all my years studying Mandarin in school. I found the language impossibly hard, even though I am ethnically Chinese.
Every Chinese character has its own unique pronunciation and meaning, and the only way to learn it is to memorize it. Get one stroke wrong, and it’s either a completely different word, or a nonsensical, non-existent word. And there is no way of guessing each word’s pronunciation.
Just because one character looks like another doesn’t mean squat when it comes to how each word is pronounced.
So in school, they gave us stacks and stacks of Chinese words and idioms to memorize. We had to memorize how they were written, what they meant, and how each was used. It was So. Painful.
My struggle with Mandarin also had a lot to do with the fact that I mainly spoke English growing up, English being the language of choice at home.
Why, you may ask? Well, it’s coz my mother failed spectacularly at Mandarin in school, so speaking Mandarin at home just wasn’t a practical choice. We wouldn’t have been able to understand each other, between us! 😉
What’s happened, though, is that because of the substantial amount of Chinese influence in the evolution of the Korean language, there are a good number of loanwords that I now recognize, which instantly speeds up my understanding of what’s being said in Korean.
MY SPECIFIC LOCATION: SINGAPORE
While knowing Mandarin helps a lot in terms of picking up on the loanwords, it is actually my specific location in Singapore that has made that process even more effective.
The reason is that in Singapore, even though Mandarin is the official Chinese language spoken and studied in schools, there are a lot of Chinese dialects that are still spoken, thanks to our immigrant roots.
Most of the older generation ethnic Chinese in Singapore came to Singapore on boats in the early 1900s from all over China to seek their fortune here, and with them, they brought a whole spectrum of Chinese dialects, making Singapore a pretty cool melting pot of Chinese dialects.
I’m not sure that there’s anywhere else in the world where so many Chinese dialects meet and co-exist so comfortably in one place.
Walking around in Singapore, you’d still be able to overhear conversations in a wide variety of Chinese dialects, with Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese being the most commonly spoken ones.
What this means is that as an ethnic Chinese in Singapore, my ears and brain have gotten used to the variations in pronunciation between dialects when using the same Chinese words.
This has produced some kind of “instinct,” if you will, in terms of how the pronunciation of the same characters shift between dialects.
There are a ton of words in Korean that sound like loanwords from the Chinese language. Some of these loanwords sound more like the equivalents in the Chinese dialects rather than Mandarin.
My exposure to the various Chinese dialects helps me to increase my vocabulary quickly & easily, coz I recognize the words more easily when they’re spoken in dramas, and then find it easier to remember them as well, because I have a point of reference to a language – or dialect – that I’m more familiar with.
Like, 问题 (problem) is pronounced as “wen-ti” in Mandarin and “mun-tai” in Cantonese. In Korean, it’s 문제 (moon-jae) which isn’t that different from the Chinese equivalents. And yes, I did pick up this one while watching a kdrama 🙂
EDIT: JUST A COUPLE MORE EXAMPLES
时间 (time) is pronounced as “shi jian” in Mandarin and “si gan” in Cantonese. In Korean, it’s 시간 (si-gan) which is practically identical to the Cantonese pronunciation, but for the tone.
药 (medicine) is pronounced as “yao” in Mandarin and “york” in Cantonese. In Korean, it’s 약 (yahk) which is closer to the Cantonese pronunciation than the Mandarin one。
祈祷 (pray) is pronounced “qi dao” in Mandarin, “kei tou” in Cantonese, and “ki do” in Hokkien. In Korean, it’s 기도 (ki do), which sounds practically identical to the Hokkien pronunciation.
Pretty cool, huh? 😀
LEARNING TO READ KOREAN
On a tangent, I’ve been trying to learn how to read Korean, and it’s quite a thrill when I manage to read the characters.
It’s fascinating how the characters look unique, almost like Chinese characters are unique, yet can be read using an alphabet-like set of sub-characters.
Just like phonetics in English, by following the sound of the sub-characters, you can make out whole characters in Korean phonetically. It helps that I already recognize the sound of many words in Korean.
This makes reading Korean SO much more accessible than reading Chinese! In Chinese, every single character is a unique word, and the parts of each character tell you nothing about how the word is pronounced.
You just have to learn individual words and remember them individually, which makes it the most complex language I know.
Also, the Korean alphabet is so much shorter than the Japanese one, which makes it much more accessible too. It’s interesting how the 2 are so different fundamentally.
In the Japanese alphabet, each alphabet has its own sound and is a syllable on its own.
But the Korean alphabet functions more like the English alphabet, where each alphabet has its own characteristic that must be combined with other alphabets to make syllables and then complete words.
Now when I see Korean characters, my first instinct is to try to read them! But as with English words, I have to get past the stage of using phonetics, to actually recognizing words on sight. That would be so cool though, if I could get there! 😀
HOW ALL THIS HAS AFFECTED MY DRAMA-WATCHING
When I first started watching Goong, my very first kdrama, I watched it dubbed in Mandarin with English subs. The reason I preferred the Mandarin dialogue is coz the Mandarin dialogue captured a lot of nuances that the English subs did not.
This was a time when box sets were my only source of kdrama crack, so I kind of had to live with whatever subs they came with.
I watched several kdramas that way, including Winter Sonata, which I first watched with Chinese dialogue, then eventually with Korean dialogue, but with the same English subs.
Later on, I progressed to watching kdramas with the original Korean dialogue, when I discovered better English subs, and that helped so much in terms of helping me match Korean words to their accurate translations.
Good subs play a HUGE role in helping me get a grasp on what means what. I mean, if my Japanese lessons had come with English subs, I might’ve done quite well, actually! 😉
One day not too long ago, the mood to re-watch Winter Sonata suddenly struck me, and I found it surprisingly refreshing to finally watch it when I understood more of the actual dialogue.
This time, I actually understood quite a bit of what the characters were saying, and the nuances not reflected in the subtitles finally showed up for me.
It was almost like watching a whole new drama, & I thought that was pretty darn cool 😀
It’s been almost 6 years since I first watched Goong, and I feel like I’ve learned so, so much since then. And I’m happy to say that I’m still very much thrilled today, when I make connections while watching kdramas and learn new words or phrases.
Yes, the romance and the dramas themselves are a huge draw. But the adventure of learning Korean while watching the dramas are a huge part of my adventure too 🙂
All in all, I am really grateful that watching kdrama has been not only this much fun, but also this educational – something that I would have never guessed when my sister first brought home that box set of Goong that fateful day!
I also don’t take for granted the very specific and unique factors that have helped to make learning Korean such a pleasurable and exciting experience for me, & with no classrooms involved too! 😉
So what’s YOUR journey been like, watching kdrama and learning Korean?? 😀
About this korean language learning from kdrama i used to list the new words i know from a new kdrama that i finished watching.
Like when i watch some joseon dramas i know words like “Taegam”, “Naeuri” and “Naungja”
When i watched Strangers from hell i know that hell is “Ji-uk” in Korean.
I do know some words from kpop songs and variety shows too. It’s just a few new words but listing all of them gave me a quite big amount of vocabularies.
The only problem is I can’t form a sentence because the Korean language grammar is just too confusing. The grammar is so different from English or my native language, Indonesian.
My pronouncication is quite good i think because i sing kpop out loud too many times. I never tested it with actual korean people though.
That’s great, that you’ve been picking up words from kdramas and kpop! 🙂 Korean isn’t that easy of a language, I think, so don’t feel bad that you’re not yet able to form sentences. I’m sure with more kdramas and kpop under your belt, that you’ll get there in your own time! 🙂
I also love learning new languages. Since I’ve been watching kdramas I have picked up a few words here and there. I also downloaded this app called Memrise which made learning it more fun. I was recently given a set of books/audio CDs on how to learn korean and I’m so excited! It helps that I have friends that are as crazy (if not more) as I am about kdramas that we start texting/talking to each other with the few korean words that we know. Lastly, I just want to say that I enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your very insightful reviews. I have used it as a guide for which drama to watch next. Also, since reading your blog I have learned that we share the love of Jang Hyuk, he came out with a new drama titled Voice and I can’t wait to watch it. 🙂
Hi there Arlene, that’s so cool, that you have friends who are as enthusiastic about kdramas and learning Korean as you are! The idea of you guys talking to one another in Korean – well, with the Korean that you do know – makes me smile. I’d love to have friends to do that with, but my friends who do watch dramas just aren’t as into it as I am. Darn. 😝 Glad to know you’ve found the reviews useful! And yes, Jang Hyuk is wonderful indeed. I haven’t checked out Voice yet, but I am sure he will be excellent, coz he’s always excellent. ❤
Do you happen to know any site that has a korean short story written in english alphabet? I’ve been searching for it for a week now but they were all written in hangul :'( HEEEEEEEELP! Hihihi
Hi Rizz, I have a link that might interest you.. It’s not a short story in the strictest sense of the word, but the author has written an e-novel about Korean characters in a fantasy Korean setting. You can check it out here and if you wish to purchase it to support the author, you can do that here.
Also, you might be interested in the Dream Dramas section of the blog, where Lady G creates Dream Dramas using mostly Korean characters and settings. You can find that here. I hope that helps! 🙂
Hi! I accidentally stumbled upon this blog while searching for some K-drama review. This blog is really cool. I wonder why I hadn’t come across it before. I kept reading and this post and it really caught my attention. I am from India and a Tamilian. Glad to know you tried a bit of Tamil. I am also a language enthusiast.. My love of Korean language has grown biggger and the sound of it makes me happy. Hoping to connect more with your blogs! great effort! Love it!
Hi there Rosh! Welcome to the blog! 🙂 I’m glad you found & enjoy my little corner of the interwebs! I did have a lot of fun with those Tamil lessons from my (now ex-) colleagues. It’s definitely not an easy language for a non-native speaker, and I enjoyed challenging myself to get the intonations right. Unfortunately I’ve now forgotten most of the Tamil I learned! 😛 But like you, my fondness for the Korean language has grown, and I love practicing a bit of Korean whenever I get the chance. ^^
And absolutely, I’d love to chat more with ya around the site – happy browsing!! You can get a good overview of the site’s content on this handy Index page. I hope that helps! 🙂
Hello fellow Singaporean! You put all my thoughts into a coherent post. Korean is really much easier for us to pick up and I’m so thankful for that! I feel your pain studying Mandarin because I went through the exact same thing arghh! And I also get really excited too when something clicks in my brain.
These are examples I always use when trying to explain to people why I managed to pick up Korean from watching dramas and variety shows:
Student = haksaeng in hokkien and korean.
sun = taiyang in mandarin, taeyang in korean
heart = xinzang in mandarin, shimjang in korean.
I’ve also taken to reading netizen comments on articles on Naver as a way of improving my korean reading skills. It’s fun and a good way of knowing more about stuff I like but sites won’t translate about.
Woot, hi there, fellow Singaporean!! 😀 It’s pretty darn cool how our context makes Korean so unexpectedly accessible, isn’t it!
Good on ya, for being able to read netizen comments on articles! I must say that’s more than I can do, since I haven’t been putting much effort towards the reading bit. I mostly practice my reading only when it’s necessary, like when I need to visit a Korean site, or when something pops up in a kdrama. I’m getting better, but progress is much slower than if I applied myself more. I guess I’m more focused on the actual drama watching, lol! XD
i remember the first ever sentence i understood in korean is “nan dongsaeng otoke” from secret garden!!! it was such a thrilling experience.
Aw, I feel ya. It still gives me a bit of a thrill today, whenever I figure out something new while listening to the Korean dialogue in dramas. Watching kdramas is quite a fab way to learn Korean, I think! 🙂
HAHAHA thats true!! and also anything to justify the crazy amount of time we spend watching dramas!
Eep. Don’t remind me about the amount of time I spend on dramas! Most people would consider this a legit problem! XD
..it’s true kfangurl…Chinese language is a tough language to learn..it’s not that easy to understand either through hearing..especially Mandarin. Infact, between Korean and Mandarin i’ll prefer the 1st one…hahaha!..I’ve watched some k-drama dubbed in Chinese ..It’s a good thing there is an English subs..subtitles are really helpful..sometimes some Korean words(in romanization form) are shown also on screen briefly explain or describe what the characters are trying to impart…mostly, i’ve learned some Korean common nouns on how to address properly an elderly male or female/same with young boy or girl/brother or sister from watching a Korean drama…sometimes when i’m with friends and relatives…i greet and address them in Korean terminology and they would react in a manner like…”WHAT”?…i understand..i’m a Filipino and using a foreign language in addressing them…I told them i’m doing it not to boast or brag…i’m merely sharing what i’ve learned and i’m happy about it..it’s fun!..especially when you say it properly…to be able to learn few things has nurture my individuality..;)
Yes, I completely agree that good subs make a HUGE difference!! LOL at you confounding your family members by addressing them in Korean! XD I occasionally address my (also kdrama-loving) mother as “Omma” and she’s pretty good at responding to that! I tease her that all those kdrama hours have honed her Korean instincts 😉
Ahhh language, I do love thee as well!! I think having learned a language like Hindi will be of great benefit for me as embark upon the Korean because sentence structure is similar; levels of formalities, as well. Likewise, I think the brain is exercised in a unique way when learning a language that has a completely different or independent script. And although these languages can be romanized, it is truly a cool thing to be able to read and write a language in the script it is deemed proper to read and write in. I look forward to the day when I can watch a K-drama without subs and read Korean literature as it is written. Also, because I am a language geek, I would love to be able to write a fan letter to any one of my K-drama actors in Korean. Yes, I am that much of an über geek! 🙂
Wow, you’ve learned Hindi?! That’s quite an accomplishment! 😀
I absolutely agree that the brain is used and challenged in a very specific way when learning language, which I think is really cool. I’m not very proficient at reading Hangul at the moment, but yes, I do get a huge thrill when I recognize words on sight instead of having to figure them out ^^
I can understand your aspiration, to be able to read and write Korean as the natives do. I would love to be able to do that too! And watch my dramas without subs. And be able to read Hangul that appears onscreen so that I know exactly what’s going on 😉 The amazing motivating powers of Hallyu..! XD
How lucky you are to say it like koreans…i want to learn korean to formally though im learning in the drama i watch…i want also to watch without a sub someday…i really enjoy reading ur blog…
Aw, thank you! 😀 Welcome to the blog, ebyangpromdi!
It’s extra fun to learn Korean while watching dramas, I feel.. Makes the drama extra exciting coz we’re not just enjoying the story, but adding to our knowledge of the language at the same time! ^^ I also feel like the more we listen to the language, the better we’d be able to speak it ourselves, coz we’d have a better sense of the tones, phrasing etc. So there we go – more reasons to watch more kdrama! 😉 LOL!
And yes, wouldn’t be awesome if we could watch our dramas without subs?? Not only would we have no further need to hunt down subs, but we’d be able to watch dramas that subbing groups don’t pick up, AND understand the nuances that are often not reflected in the subs! 😀 One day we’ll get there! Hwaiting!! 😀
That’s a very interesting post and one I can relate to 🙂 I’m also ethnically chinese (and vietnamese) but my family used to live in Cambodia then moved to France which is where I was born and raised !
I also studied Mandarin (I can speak Teochew and it did help) but I never really got the hang of it, it just never clicked I guess, especially since I hardly ever used it outside of school 🙁 At the same time, I started watching American TV series and I found out I was becoming fluent in English thanks to that ! My classmates were always surprised at how much vocab’ I knew and I often wondered how in the world I could know such words or expressions …I just needed something that actually interested me enough to get into a language 🙂
Nowadays, K-drama have become my addiction and even though I never tried to properly learn Korean, I equally get the thrills when I can understand without the subtitles 😉 I actually went to Korea and sure enough, my speaking skills never got me anywhere but I could still understand basic conversation and drop a few words here and there to my relatives’ amazement ! haha but I agree with another previous comment : I felt so shy to actually speak Korean because it sounded weird once the words got out of my mouth ?
Korean habits also affected me but I don’t really want to show it because people might find my freaky ? ^^ I mean why would I do such things when I’m living in France, speaking French and having no obvious strings to any Korean family or anything …
anyway, yay for language lovers ^.^
Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! And I totally feel ya – learning Mandarin while speaking mostly English at home & elsewhere is HARD! >.< Those memories of struggling with Mandarin are more vivid than I want them to be, lol!
I also really identify with you in terms of being able to understand more easily than speaking! I can comprehend much better and faster than I can speak Korean, coz I'm always a bit uncertain of the form, and there are so many forms to choose from! This also makes me a little more hesitant to speak it, but I honestly believe that it only gets better & easier with practice. So dare to speak it, chinggu, even if it's to yourself 😉 I speak Korean to myself quite often, and even that little bit of practice helps!
Here’s to us both getting more fluent in Korean! Hwaiting!! 😀
Man, you guys are all so cool! I think I shall have to add my language background too! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE languages, and I have an ear for them. I also pick up languages really well from listening to them. I am actually from South Africa (native English speaker though) so I am used to a variety of accents and languages and dialects being spoken all around me. I think this has really helped me to learn new languages. I started studying some French in high school (and a little Sesotho), but then my family moved to Germany later on and I had to learn German. Luckily I already spoke Afrikaans (a sort of simplified Dutch spoken in South Africa), so that helped. And then I went to college and studied some more French, and some Ancient Greek (hello new alphabet), and then I fell in love with Bollywood. I picked up so much Hindi, that I decided I should take some Hindi classes, which I did (later on I got my Hindi teacher addicted to K-drama). I started taking Hindi in grad school, and I am trying to finish up that degree in TESOL. And my natural love of languages made me just love studying linguistics. Anyway, long story short – I need to start formally learning Korean too. And I really want to learn Mandarin as well. It’s on my bucket list ^^~
WOW!! You are quite the linguist!! I am in awe of you being able to speak so many!! 😀 Especially Hindi!! I think the Indian languages are among the most challenging, and you need a real flair for language to pick it up if you’re not a native speaker 🙂
Also! I couldn’t help giggling at the fact that you got your Hindi teacher hooked on kdrama!! LOL!! I bet s/he never saw that coming! XD
I bet you’ll do really well when you start on those Korean & Mandarin classes! I have a sneaking feeling your Mandarin’s going to be better than mine, given your talent for language! 😀
Um, you are the one who is awesome with all your studying! Sadly my Hindi has been quite neglected because of Kdrama. And I am certain your Mandarin is better ^^~
Lol, I think it’s that thing where we feel more intimidated by languages that we don’t yet know. And French, German, Afrikaans & Hindi are all languages that I don’t know, which is why I’m so in awe of you speaking them all!! 😉
In my course of work, I’ve met many Americans & Brits who are amazingly fluent in Mandarin, after being posted to China and taking intensive lessons in Business Mandarin. They can conduct business meetings in fluent Mandarin, complete with the Beijing accent! I’m not able to do that, so that’s why I feel like with your talent for language, you might be just as good as those folks 😉 Hwaiting!! May your experience with Mandarin be more angst-free than mine! 😉 Lol
It wasn’t till recently that I actually realized how much words I’d picked up from Korean dramas. I never really anticipated to learn or even find myself uttering out things such as, ‘Aigoo’ or scratching my head when I feel slightly annoyed or frustrated and the one that shocked me the most was the slight bow when thanking someone. I think that gesture surprsied me the most because I didn’t even realize I was doing it until a fellow kdrama fangirl (although she wouldn’t appreciate the term ‘fangirl’) friend of mine pointed it out.
In dramas where I find myself more compelled, I tend to not watch with subtitles and it’s interesting to see how many sentences I’m able to understand [even though I’m still extremely useless with it atm] but it’s nice knowing you can pick up certain words here and there.
I’m from N.Z [which is an incredibly diverse country, in terms of culture/race…etc]. So I’ve come across tons of other ethnics and their languages, which I find all very interesting in regards to English itself because you become invested in it and you do want to learn many languages because it just seems fun ^^
One thing I did pick up which I absolutely love is respect for elders; I’ve become accustomed to respecting them more and ofc the whole bowing your head thing I do for them mostly out of respect ^^
Nice post, loved it <3
Aw, thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! 😀
Yes, it’s funny, isn’t it, how the Korean language and also the Korean way of doing stuff seeps into you before you even realize it? I also find myself saying random Korean words – to myself AND to others – and sometimes it’s without even thinking about it. One of the ones I use a lot is “ara-so” which I’m probably spelling wrong. I used that so much in my previous job that my colleagues all came to expect it from me! 😛
I have to agree that the respect for elders thing did affect me too. I noticed how they give respect to the men in the family by addressing them first before the women, and I tried it on my parents, ie, when addressing them both, to address my dad first, and it really seems to perk up my dad’s mood quite a bit. I don’t know if that’s just a traditional Asian thing, but I found it fascinating, and I’ve since made it a habit, at least with my dad 🙂
I did, because I can relate to it ^^
My cousin would say, ‘ara-so’ a lot too; it kind of stuck with her. Because she would sometimes pout a little too (which was not exactly the cutest thing on someone who was 20+) LOL.
I think there was a few cases when I would actually say ‘gamsahmnida’ [-spelling error-] and then I stopped because of how foreign it felt on the tip of my tongue. It’s not that I didn’t want to say it, it was mostly because when I began to realise I was saying it, it kinda felt awkward to continue saying it. -siiigh-
AH. I see, the only person I can’t keep formalities with are my Parents (in terms of respect, I guess that’s just a general thing most kids should be doing). I’m pretty sure if formalities were taken in greetings with him he’d have a ‘WTF’ look plastered on his face along with, “What are you doing?”…
Y’know, I find that with language, being bold enough to say stuff is a big key to getting better at it 🙂
When I first went to junior college (sort of like high school), I happened to meet friends who spoke a lot of Mandarin, so I spoke it with them too, even though my Mandarin wasn’t any good. They told me that I sounded weird, like I spoke it with an English accent, and that made me really self-conscious.
When started working though, I got to speak a lot of different languages coz it was such a diverse workplace, and I unconsciously got more comfortable speaking Mandarin. Fast forward a few years, and a total stranger in a hair salon asked me how I could switch between Mandarin & English so effortlessly. I’d been speaking to my hairdresser in Mandarin, & he’d assumed I was a mainly Mandarin speaking kinda girl, coz he said I sounded so natural. Until my phone rang and I picked up in English, sounding equally natural.
Long tangent later, what I’m trying to say is, don’t be shy, just go for it! Language only gets fluent with actual use, so dare to speak it, chingu! 😀
Too true, I think with me because I’m from the pacific islands and my parents both tend to speak English to us kids, having to speak my native tongue was really hard especially going over to the islands. I would have trouble talking to them because they would look at me weird and ask if I was purposely speaking in a ‘broken manner’ where I would speak tongan and then quickly use english when I was lost of words.
But thanks, I think being bold and confident about it might help. I’m thinking of going to Korea once I’m done with my degree. And I’m glad you became confident with mandarin and you’re also living in Singapore; that must be exciting ^^
Aw yeah, I bet with practice, you’ll sound more natural in Tongan AND Korean!! I can just imagine you blowing everyone away when you eventually set foot in Korea! 😉 Hwaiting!!
We somehow have some similarities between us 😀 Me too, have a thing for languages but I love to get formal lessons. Yeah, I love studying languages and nowadays I often wonder, why didn’t I take a degree in any language? Blame the inadequate sources about taking a language degree back then. Now I’m stuck with this engineering course. uhh
I’m from Malaysia (that makes us neighbors!) and I experienced almost the same thing with what you had. My mother tongue language is Malay and I picked up English at school. I just had the tendency to pick up languages easily and I learned Arabic since I was 6. I agree that learning Japanese really helps in learning Korean and Mandarin, because the years I spent learning Japanese (although that wasn’t planned) proved to be helpful in my Jdrama watching activity. I was forced to quit the Japanese class because my teacher didn’t allow me to take too much subjects. If not, I might’ve been selected to go for a student exchange 😀
Mandarin is hard O.O I took the class four semesters back but it was worth it because the subject helped me to cover my GPA. Haha. I never had the chance to join any formal Korean language class until today and the only thing I can do is learning it all by myself through books and internet. Dramas help me A LOT in understanding daily conversations and the speech styles. If I was a girl who couldn’t watch a drama without proper subs, nowadays I can watch dramas without subs and understand almost 80% of the lines (minus the business/medical/special terms).
However, I really have a long way to go for me to be able to read articles. That’s a motivation for me to keep learning the language 🙂
Wow! Hello, neighbor!! 😀 It’s always great to connect & realize we’re not so far apart geographically after all!
I’m in awe of you learning Arabic, that looks like a really difficult language! No wonder you’re able to handle learning Korean so well on your own!
High five on also taking Japanese classes! Tho it sounds like you were waayyy more successful at the Japanese classes than I was! I do agree that knowing some Japanese helps a lot in understanding and learning Korean! I have to agree that the business/medical/special terms are the hardest! I can’t imagine watching a medical drama without subs! For me, the dailies are easier to manage without subs, coz they have much simpler settings and set-ups 😉
I'm just getting a little more comfortable reading Hangul, but writing it is a whole different story. The "spelling" is something I haven't quite caught the knack of yet! And I am also a long way off, from being able to actually read articles & such! I guess this is what keeps it exciting tho – the feeling that you're making progress, plus the feeling that there's so much more to learn! 😀
LOL, another driving factor for me was actually the sensei of the Japanese class. She was a strict and scary person O.O It’s all thanks to her that I managed to be at the top of the class although I started out four months’ late compared with the other students. But still…it was a terrifying experience for me. hahaha 😀
I was quite skeptical with dailies at first because I thought they are hard to be understood. Luckily I gave it a try and I’m surviving well even without subs 😉 Actually, I’m more confident in speaking than writing/reading in Korean. Spelling the words is quite tricky because the sounds sometimes disappear when we pronounce the word as a whole (I always make simple mistakes!) . So, for the time being, I’m just relying on a textbook and trying to read them once in a while. Maybe that’s what makes me love languages: I don’t really have to possess technical knowledge, just the passion and willingness to learn new things about the language 🙂
You topped the class in Japanese??! Wow! That’s quite an achievement!! 😀
Yes, absolutely, speaking is easier than reading or writing! For me, I’m more confident in comprehending than in speaking, haha! 😉 There are so many forms that I sometimes don’t even know which one to reach for. I’ve spoken banmal inappropriately before, without even meaning to. Most probably coz banmal is the most frequently used form in dramas between characters, so my brain reaches for it first, when I really should be using jondaemal. And if I’m speaking to a Korean, it probably means I don’t know them well enough to go with banmal!! I’ve probably offended people before without intending to! >.<
So for me, in order of ease, it's: listening, speaking, reading then writing! 😛
Oh as far as dailies go, I am loving I Live in Cheongdamdong! Have you checked that one out? 😀
Form of speech is one of the things that I like about Korean. Lucky you, to have the experience of speaking Korean with people! I think the people you’ve spoken to won’t really feel offended as long as you explained that you’re still learning 😉
Listening and speaking can be done while we’re watching dramas but for reading and writing, we have to find the time to practice. I guess that’s why I’m not that good in reading: because I’m a little lazy 😛
I’m currently watching Cheer Up, Mr Kim! and have yet to find some time to watch I Live in Cheongdamdong. Heard positive reviews about it everywhere 😀
Yes, sometimes I do get to meet Koreans, and then I will practice on them! An older lady that I saw regularly for a while kept prodding me to add “yo” to the ends of my sentences, coz at the time I wasn’t too clear about banmal vs jondaemal! Her gentle prodding of “yo” turned into more insistent “yo!!” after a while, LOL!!! >.<
Oh, I hope you decide to check out ILICDD sometime!! It is GOOD. Like, really, really good! I'm about halfway through and I find it such a nice watch! Even my friend who'd never watched a daily in her life finished it really fast then said that she really really liked it! 😀
The most common mistakes of Korean learners learning from drama! The 반말!
I study textbooks, but my main source of Korean is still dramas. There are so many things I haven’t learned in textbooks but have picked up from dramas that are appropriate for a given situation, so I have a tendency to use them before realizing that they may not be really appropriate. Until Kim Sun Ah noticed how I butcher 반말 and 존댓말. OTL I decided to start learning properly and has always been careful with my 요 s and 입니다s. And now I have a hard time using 반말 because I get so much more comfortable with 존댓말. So my kiddie friends finds me amusing because I use 존댓말 with them. I try using 반말 but 존댓말 would show up unexpectedly sometimes before I can correct it. The cute little girls would giggle! OTL
LOL!! Indeed. It IS the most common mistake, coz banmal is used so frequently in dramas! And for those who did not realize that there is a difference between banmal and jondaemal, it’s all the more confusing! 😛
I know what you mean about having one form show up unexpectedly.. Once we’re more used to one form, our brains reach for it automatically, & then even before we realize it, the words are coming out of our mouths! >.< I think your tendency is a safer one than mine, though, since it's better to be overly polite than to be unintentionally rude! HAHA! XD
What an honor, though, for Kim Sun Ah herself to notice you as one of her fans!! I'm sure she would be touched to know what a huge influence she's been in terms of you learning Korean! 😀
i have also learnt so many Korean words, but i cannot understand a full sentence…..only certain words here and there 😉
It’s great that you’ve picked up lots of Korean words! 😀 By all means, Korean is not an easy language.. there are so many forms of saying the same thing! I never knew that there are 7 – SEVEN!! – levels of formality existing in the language! No wonder it’s confusing onscreen, with different characters adopting different levels of formality in different scenes and different shows! It does keep it interesting & exciting though! 😉
As long as you’re having fun with it, I say, hwaiting! 😀
I find Tamil a very difficult language(I’m from India), so it’s really commendable that you managed to learn some of it….
I agree that Korean has so many forms of saying the same thing, but in Hindi also, we have different levels of formality(but lesser than Korean) 😀
Oh, I didn’t know that about Hindi! How interesting, that there are different levels in Hindi too! 😀 I read that in modern practice, only about 3-4 levels are in actual usage in Korea. Still, coming from a background where there aren’t any levels (I didn’t get far enough in Japanese to learn levels!), this was new and quite fascinating to me!
I’ve heard that Hindi is easier to learn than Tamil, but weirdly, the education system here chose to offer Tamil as the official mother tongue of Indian students. So most Indians here speak Tamil. Which explains why both local Indian colleagues AND colleagues from India were trying to teach me Tamil! I can’t say I remember much of it anymore though! My bad 😛