In the past few weeks, I’ve been working pretty hard in my off time to learn Korean. I’m still a rock-bottom beginner, but I am starting to see some improvement. I learned to read pretty quickly, but I am super slow. Since Hangul (Korean writing) is everywhere, I try to practice all day long. Koreans, friends as well as complete strangers, think it’s hilarious when they see me sounding out words. I don’t take offense – I’m sure I sound like a three year old.
Now that my colleagues have figured out that I am truly interested in their language, a few of them have slowly started trying to help me. Unfortunately, they suck at it. Though they mean well, their help is usually anything but. With one exception, they don’t understand that I cannot comprehend (much less repeat) entire sentences when they say them at full speed.
This week, I’ve noticed a new (and even more frustrating) habit cropping up. I often read things out loud so that they can listen and correct my pronunciation. As I begin to read out loud, they take over and finish reading the sentence for me. Of course, this defeats the purpose of reading out loud. And it happens every time. I keep telling them to stop, but it isn’t sinking in.
A similar thing is happening when I practice things like days of the week and numbers. If I slow down for even a second to remember a word, they take over. Mr. Kim is the worst:
Me: Hana, Dur, Set, Net, uh…
Mr. Kim: Da-sat, Ya-sat, Il-gob, Ya-dalb, Ah-hob, Yahl
Me: I know you know them. I need to practice.
Mr. Kim: Sorry.
Me: Ok…Hana, Dur, Set, Net, Da-sat, Ya-sat, uh…
Mr. Kim: Il-gob, Ya-dalb, Ah-hob, Yahl
Me: SERIOUSLY? You gotta stop!
Mr. Kim: Sorry.
He can’t seem to help himself. It’s hard to get too mad, though, because his intentions are good. He wants to help me, but I don’t think he knows how to go about it. Hopefully he will learn to hold back and coach me soon.
Until next time.