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.

1 comment:

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