Monday, February 27, 2012

Went to the Super88... 맛있어요!

So, on Saturday (and today after work as well), I decided to make a trip into the Super88, which is an Asian foodstore near where I used to live. I figured I'd go there to, you know... reconnect with my Asian roots.

(Joke.) You can laugh now.

Anyway, I imagined that I could put my new-found language interest into context by poking around in the Korean section of the store (which is huge, by the way). Actually, let me clarify. The store is huge. The Korean section... is non existent. Or, in other words, "Korean section eop-seo-yo." There was a Chinese section. There was a Japanese section. There was a Thai section, There was a Southeast Asian section. No Korean section. Jin-jjah? (Seriously?)

Jin-jjah. (Seriously.) No word of a lie. So, instead, I had to hunt and peck around the entirety of the store (warehouse size) and have occasional ah-ha! moments where I would realize something was Korean. A lot of dried seaweed was, so I bought that. Didn't get any kimchi because I thought the sodium content would stop my bodily functions. A jar of that stuff... 40 servings of two tablespoons? Give me a break. Who eats only two tablespoons of anything worth eating? That jar would have lasted me three sittings, tops.

What I did find (but didn't buy), was this bag of twisty-somethings. I can't begin to tell you what this says since the rest of the bag is in Japanese, but the part in red that looks like 맛있어요! is a new word I just learned two days ago. Ma-si-sseo-yo! (It's delicious!) I was so excited to recognize this word that I literally did cartwheels in the aisle.

The other Korean find that made me whip out my camera was the pack of Tako Chips below. They are (get this) octopus flavored. Blows the multi-colored shrimp chips I used to eat at my friend's house as a child clear out of the water.

When I looked up the word 자갈치 that is up at the top of the bag of chips, the Google translation is either literally Jalgalchi (apparently, Korea's largest seafood market), or the word "gravel." Eating octopus flavored chips might be right up there with gravel in the list of things I won't be eating anytime soon. Amen.

Talk to Me in Korean: Level 1 Lesson 14 / What do you want to do? / 뭐 하고 싶어요?
Talk to Me in Korean on YouTube: Level 1 Lessons 13 + 14
Korean Word of the Week #11:
How to say PLEASE in Korean

Current KDrama:
시크릿가든 "see-kuh-rit-gah-duhn" (Secret Garden)
TV hours: 16
Total TV hours: 106 (394 left to goal)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


This is a huge milestone in my language acquisition process. I have listened to (drumroll):
one hundred countable hours of Korean input.

My method of countable native speaker input has been largely via Korean dramas, which--thanks to Netflix, YouTube, and a variety of other streaming video sources--are ridiculously easy to come by. Since I am not including time I spend listening to audio podcast lessons on constant repeat, this is a gross underestimate.

I am testing out the worth of the TV Method as a language learning approach, although I am not being super scientific about it, as it is not my only approach. I can only vouch, then, for its usefulness in aiding language acquisition, and not as the sole tool in my toolbox. I have 500 hours as a first goal, but I think even 800 to 1000 might not be out of the question. I certainly love this method, as it gives me permission to watch hours and hours of cheesy romantic plot lines with attractive male actors. Don't dismiss an attractive face as an outstanding motivator. Whatever carrot you need to dangle from the string is up to you.

If I were to guess, I might say that I understand about 5% of what I hear.

Tonight I had my fourth meeting with my Korean friend. I'm trying to think of how best to use him as a resource. This will be my task this week. How can I squeeze the most from my time with him? The good news is that he will be moving to a new apartment that is one stop away on the subway from me. That will make meeting more than once a week a possibility.

Talk to Me in Korean: Level 1 Lesson 11 / Please give me / 주세요
Korean Word of the Week #4: BROTHERS & SISTERS in Korean

Current KDrama:
시크릿가든 "see-kuh-rit-gah-duhn" (Secret Garden)
TV hours: 10
Total TV hours: 100 (400 left to goal)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Useful stuff I can say in Korean: A Comprehensive List

Well, this is actually just a small section of my comprehensive list. This is only a comprehensive list of the common Korean phrases I've picked up since the end of December, and does not include lists of nouns, verbs, adverbs, and question words that I know... nor does it encompass the extent of my grammar knowledge. Looking at this, however, I'm surprised by how much I have learned! Studying is paying off.

Please leave a comment below about what other phrases you feel I should learn right away. Funny or serious.

Hellos and Goodbyes
안녕하세요. Hello.
만나서 반가워요. Nice to meet you.
이름이 뭐예요? What’s your name?
자는 크리스티 예요. My name is Kristy.
가지마. Don’t go.
가자! Let’s go!
안녕히 가세요. Goodbye (other person is leaving).
안녕히 계세요. Goodbye (other person is staying).

Being agreeable (or not)
나 도. Me, too. / Me neither.
그래. I agree. Okay.
네. Yes.
네, 밎아요. Yes, that’s right.
아니요. No.

Being a considerate human being
화이팅! Good luck!/Cheer up!
괜찮아요? Are you okay?
죄송합니다. / 미안해. I’m sorry.
저기요. Excuse me.
잠시만요. Just a second.
감사합니다. / 고마워. Thank you.
아니에요. You’re welcome.

Levels of understanding
압니다. I know.
몰라. I don’t know.
진짜? Really?
알았어. Got it.

진짜? Really?
아이씨! @$#&!
아이고! Oh my god!
야! Hey!
가자! Let’s go!
진짜 멋져요! Wicked awesome!

배고파. I’m hungry.
잠시만요. Just a second.
찾다. (Let’s) find it. (I’ll help.)
찾아. (You) find it. (I’ll watch, biatch.)
재미있어요. It is interesting.
재미없어요. It is not interesting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's really working!

I'm about ready to leap into the air with joy. Shin-nan-da! How exciting! I just re-watched the first three and a half minutes of episode 13 from City Hunter (I've previously watched this drama). In those three minutes, I was able to piece together so many familiar words in the course of the characters' interactions, that I was following the conversation. Of course, it helps that I have a lot of background knowledge coming into the scene. It was AMAZING, though.

This TV method really works.

I've been using the subtitles, but they definitely teach me a lot of words. Every time I watch, I have my notebook next to me, making notes of commonly heard sound combinations and match-ups that I notice between the subtitles and the words leaving the actors' mouths. Today alone, I picked up on how to say, "Find it," "I know," and "fine." I recognized the questions "Where is it?," "What is?," "Where are you going?," and "Why? Why not?"

I've been combining the drama-watching with audio lessons from Talk to Me in Korean dot com and video lessons from KWow (YouTube).

The more words I learn, the more I recognize. It's like this gargantuan puzzle that's slowly coming together before my very eyes.

I have to recommend this very quirky romantic drama Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. It was easy to get sucked into and fun to watch.

Meeting with my Korean friend tomorrow. Yay!

Current KDrama:
시크릿가든 "see-kuh-rit-gah-duhn" (Secret Garden)
TV hours from last drama (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop): 12
Total TV hours: 90 (410 left to goal)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bombarded by emails: I'm popular!

Just a heads up that if anyone wants to learn any language at all and be tutored for free, all that person needs to do is make a profile on Conversation Exchange. I swear, I've never met a single Korean in my entire time living in Boston by simply roaming the streets, but, man, are they coming out of the woodwork to learn English! I'm being bombarded by emails of people (some from outside of Boston, too, actually) who want to learn English and teach me Korean. And it's all free. It's all about helping each other out. How cool is that?!

Of course, I've already got a Korean teacher/English student/new friend. I texted him to ask if he did his language homework for me (I did mine!). He texted back and told me how dismayed I will be over the pages and pages he has written for me to correct. i think you will say me "Oh too many diary! can you reduce it?" I told him to bring it on. I ain't scurred. In fact, I'm flattered to have a student who does his homework so diligently. Probably the best one I have.

It is not lost on me--I promise--the irony that I'm chuckling a bit at his text message, although I'm fairly certain I've butchered his beautiful language in my own (Korean) homework ramblings. We'll see what the verdict is on Wednesday. Odd grammatical errors, accidental misinterpretations, erroneous word substitutions, and funny accents. These are the parts that make the language learning process so pricelessly amusing. And we should never let the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate that awkwardness slip by.

In the meantime, enjoy some pricelessness from my favorite Korean actor: You're my eeeehbree-tiiiiing.

졸려. (Jol-lyuh.) I'm sleepy. 잘자! (Jal-jah!) Goodnight!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Just finished watching the last episode of City Hunter and I've finally stopped sniffling and started breathing normally again. I'm a bit sad it's over, actually. If you like action, political scandal, revenge plots, gratuitous fight scenes, spy technology gadgets, and true love stirred into your afternoon tea, I'd highly recommend checking this one out (p.s. it's currently streaming on Netflix). Here... check out twelve minutes and seven seconds of it here. Don't say I didn't warn you about the intensity level. Oh, and everyone in the entire series uses an iPhone.

As of this week, I was only half-way through the episodes and decided I couldn't wait any longer to see how the plot played out. It was taking far too long to watch each scene without subtitles and then go back with subtitles and watch them all again. So I watched the second half with subtitles. In the end, I understand that only watching with subtitles does interfere with my ability to pick out some of the words on my own, but I am willing to cheat a little. Input is input.

Actually, the subtitles helped me get no less than 20 new words into my working vocabulary. Well, into my notebook, anyway. As for their entrance into my long-term memory in a useful way, we'll have to see about that.

Two exciting things have happened with my Korean listening skills: I have enough vocabulary words that are familiar to me now that (1) I am able to recognize several words as synonyms of each other in context of speech. Also, (2) I have just started to hear combinations of familiar words. It's pretty cool.

Example: I know two words that can mean "really": 진짜 (jin-jah) and 정만 (jeong-mal). I have heard the latter used with the word 미안해 (mian-he) which means "I'm sorry," to form 정만 미안해 (jeong-mal mian-he) which means "I'm very sorry." You can also say 죄송합니다 (joe-song-hap-ni-da) to mean "I'm sorry." Hoorah for synonyms!

Because there are so many registers that you must use to address different people in Korean, I am finding that synonyms are many and varied. It's a little intimidating, but the cultural nuances of how they're used are amazing. I guess with a language that has two completely different systems of numbers to count, you have to assume that there will be a few other duplicates ready to spring out and surprise you later, as well.

Just so you know the kind of stuff I'm dealing with here... if you want to count to 10, you can write the numbers out like this, just as we do in English: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. But the actual word forms (one, two, three, etc.) can be as follows:

Native Korean Number System
하나, 둘, 셋, 넷, 다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, 열
(ha-na, dul, set, net, da-seot, yeo-seot, il-gop, yeo-deol, a-hop, yeol)


Sino-Korean Number System
일, 이, 삼, 사, 오, 육, 칠, 팔, 구, 십
(il, i, sam, sa, o, yuk, chil, pal, gu, sip)

Pretty exciting stuff. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me.

Most recently finished KDrama:
시티헌터 "see-tee-hun-tuh" (City Hunter)
TV hours (City Hunter): 36
Total TV hours: 78 (422 left to goal)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Way better than YouTube...

What?, you might be saying. Better than YouTube?! What on earth is this girl talking about? My new Korean tutor. Yes, a real person. And a fairly normal-seeming one at that. No longer must I google search all of my pressing questions. This means that I have actual human interaction as part of my language learning! Hooray!

So, his English is pretty great (although he won't fully take my compliment). This turns out to be good news for both of us because otherwise we would just be staring at each other blankly. I know about thirty Korean words... forty tops.

When I tell him how good his speaking is, he brushes it off modestly. His accent, he says, is too strong and a lot of people have to ask him to repeat himself. So, during our little language exchange, we mainly worked on his pronunciation of the American English /r/ and /l/ sounds. In Korean, both the /r/ and the /l/ are just variants of the same consonant, ㄹ. That funny little letter that looks like a number two sometimes sounds more like an /l/ and sometimes closer to an /r/, depending on its position in the word and its juxtaposition with either consonants or vowels. If that confuses you, consider s in English. Sometimes it sounds like an /s/ (like at the end of the word "plants" because it follows the consonant t) and sometimes it sounds like /z/ (like at the end of the word "bees" because it follows the vowel e).

Anyway, I love teaching people how to change their /r/... Okay, make an 'aaaaaah' sound, and then slowly curl your tongue towards the back of your throat like this (miming with hand) 'aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr'... goooooood. The both of us were sitting in the cafe making aaaaaarrrrrraaaaaarrrrrrrraaaaaaaarrrrrrrraaaarrrrrr noises. It probably seemed like we were suffering from food poisoning simultaneously, but I think he got the hang of it.

Then he announced that it was time for some Korean and proceeded to write these fantastic sentences in hangul (the Korean alphabet) for me to schlepp through ungracefully like a first grader sounding out Hop on Pop. I did, however, get a compliment from him that my pronunciation is very good on the words that I do know. That is my specialty, after all... mimicry. Don't know what I'm sayin', but boy do I say it well!

As far as him actually being Kim Hyun Joong in disguise (very good-looking Korean actor/singer, to refresh your memory), he shot down that idea pretty quickly via email last week.

I'm sorry that i am not Kim Hyun Joong, he is tall and handsome man, but i'm not. Don't look forward to appearance like him. i'm sorry about that. kkkk

But you know? He had nothing to be sorry about. Really. It was a win situation.

Looking forward to next week's session when I get to show off my pronunciation prowess and marvelous memorization skillz. It's all I've got for the moment. Thirty words, flashcards, and excessive optimism.