Tonight is Korean night. And I don’t mean a blissful night where I get to partake in Korean Food and all of its glorious flavors. No, it is the night of my Korean Lesson.
About a year ago, I decided to take my koreaboo level up a notch and actually start studying the language itself. A few beautiful Talk To Me in Korean books later, and I realized it just wasn’t going to happen.
I’m sure I sound like a quitter, but hear me out. I don’t know how to study. I was a brilliant kid who figured out how to maintain an impressive ‘C’ average without having to do homework or study. So, that was how I lived my life until I graduated high school. In college, a creative major also doesn’t require much in the realm of studying or memorization (the homework is insane, though).
So here I was, face-to-face with a beast that I’d been avoiding my entire life and I finally realized my folly. I had none of the tools in my arsenal that would help me navigate and master this difficult language.
I finally gave in a little less than a year ago and got myself a private tutor. I decided on 30 minute lessons at $16 a week. And after nearly a year of lessons, I can confidently say that I can speak Korean at the level of an infant so far.
And that’s amazing! For what I get out of a measly $16/week, I am learning a foreign language, getting plenty of direct cultural notes, and even getting some fun stories.
That’s not to say that I’ve learned how to study, though. My tutor (with her everlasting kindness) organizes the notes from our lessons and sends them to me, because I can’t even do that yet. She is also patient with my persistent aversion to proper studying and my ever changing schedule.
Moving beyond just my poor study habits, I become more and more aware by the week of just how difficult Korean- Nay! – language learning in general is. For instance, you can add “만” to the end of a word like “사과” and make it “사과만” which would mean “only apples”. BUT! “만” is not the only way to say “only” and it is an much more specific way of using the word. “오직” also means “only” and is more general…. Like, what? Thanks for making this easy Korean Language!
But it’s not even JUST Korean. I have realized just how difficult English is. While I struggle with Korean topic markers, I watch a lot of Korean’s struggle with English prepositions (FYI, I still don’t understand prepositions and I use them well).
But all of these struggles make me love and appreciate language even more. Will I ever be fluent in Korean? Maybe, maybe not. But I can understand a lot more about the Korean way of thinking just by learning how to express different things. Like finger, which is “손가락” can be mistranslated to “hand sticks”.
가락 – Sticks
It is also worth mentioning that when my tutor asked if I remembered how to say “finger” in Korean, I could only remember that it translated to “hand sticks”. Because that is how my brain works.
Next time I talk about Korean Night, I’ll tell you about some of my mistakes that get me laughed at by my tutor!