Language and communication

On learning Korean. When I volunteer at church most everyone speaks to me in Korean. It comes out in torrents and sometimes I understand it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it comes at me so fast and furious it makes me head spin and my mind screams for us to switch over to English so I don’t have to put forth such effort.

This week will be my first week back at Korean class after missing 3 weeks! I worked last week. The weekend before was the film festival. The weekend before that was a 3-day life coach intro training I attended as a guest of a friend of mine who will complete the entire 10-month training to become a life coach.

So life is happening; priorities are taking over the need to learn Korean.

Still, I steal small moments of learning. It’s so important when learning this language (or any language for that matter?) to try and gleam all aspects: speaking, reading, writing, and listening–what I think is the hardest. Here’s what I enjoy, in this order.

1. Speaking. It’s hard. But it feels incredibly rewarding to put words together into sentences and then have those sentences be understood. Beyond rewarding.
2. Korean dramas. This helps with listening especially because the way people talk in dramas is the way people talk in real life. And you get to learn a little of the culture if you consider that it’s all hyperbolized; watching a soap opera after all, not real life.
3. Class. After taking 4 hours of class in Korea everyday ENTIRELY in Korean (not one word of English) it’s hard to take class in English. It. . . moves. . . so. . . slowly. Classmates analyze everything. But it’s necessary; how else do you learn new things?
4. Studying. Vocab. Grammar. Also necessary, right? But solitary, not all interactive.

I have Ros3tta St0ne and I got a scholarship to study online. But these methods are so one-sided. You just speak to a computer screen and get no reaction so it’s hard to retain especially if you don’t know what you’re saying is pronounced correctly. As someone who loves to converse and get feedback I need more interaction.

On other language liberties for a few weeks now I have been helping the Pastor with papers she has to write for the PhD program she’s in at graduate school. I proofread and help her with grammar, etc.

The first paper I helped her with the professor asked the Pastor if they could use her paper for presentation in class. The second paper I helped her with she got an A- on.

Who woulda thunk I’d be doing stuff like this.

More methods of communication. The other day I spoke to four friends in Seoul. (And one other I met in Seoul who is stateside and another who is in the midwest.) We talked via webcam, phone, and a few different types of instant messenger. Webcam is by far the best; it makes friends who are on the other side of the world seem closeby. Hearing a person’s voice is one thing, being able to see them makes SUCH a difference.

Sometimes I worry about this; that the people I feel closest to, the ones who understand me best, are not here geographically where I am. Don’t get me wrong, I have great friends here who I see frequently. Still, sometimes I worry that I am not being present, here; not spending time with friends who are actually physically here.

But then I rationalize that it doesn’t matter where people live; because of technology my friends can be anywhere. And it shouldn’t matter where they are or where I am; no matter where we are we can always be friends.

It just so happens that the people I feel closest to, the ones who get me best, are nowhere near where I live. This means that while some people watch TV or surf the net or go out with friends in their spare time, my favorite way to spend time is webcamming or talking on the phone or instant messenging with people on the other side of the world. It’s free (or minimal) and makes me feel good. (Oh, and I also listen to books on CD. I know that sounds incredibly dorky, but I really enjoy them. And reading and radio shows, specifically npr shows. Odd and old-fashioned, I know.)

Still, even though I try not to think about it, sometimes I just really wish my friends could be here where I am. At least in the same time zone.

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