Sunday, January 30, 2011

An-nyong-ha-say- WHAT?

I’m failing out of Korean class.  I’m trying, but it’s just not working out.  I would also like to say that today, out of 25 students, I was one of only three that had done my homework. That should count for something.  I’m one of the newest foreigners in the class so I accept that as part of my struggle, but still.  When I am doing something within a group, I need to be the best.  It’s the youngest child syndrome in me.

And true to form, if I’m not going to be the best then I am at least going to be funniest.  Emily, Jessica, Jay, Maggie and I make up the class clown section of the classroom.  Emily and I create a soundtrack of sarcasm for the entire class each week.  We make our teacher laugh. I’m not sure if she thinks I’m funny (which I am) or if it’s because she’s just waiting for me to throw my hands up in the air and walk out, but she singles me out constantly.  I genuinely think she’s surprised to see me continue to show up each week.  She knows this is hard for me. Nevertheless, I show up with a smile on my face and she greets me with an enthusiastic Korean greeting. I then reply with an enthusiastic “Hello!” and we both laugh.  Being able to laugh at yourself is a most important quality.

Today was our third class, which is apparently the benchmark class.  We’ve changed from learning character sounds and pronunciation rules to learning actual sentence structure and conversation.  This is far too advanced for me.  I have a feeling that our next class (in two weeks) is going to be a considerably smaller group.  I have several days off this week for the Lunar holiday so I plan to devote a lot of time to studying and practicing with my Rosetta Stone.  I’m determined to beat this.  (We’ll see how long that determination lasts. )

The point of this blog is that just going to class for three weeks has made me grow an intense new respect for my students.  After my five years at sufficiently failing at French, I have completely forgotten how difficult it is to learn a new language.  Really learn the language, not just a few useful sentences and vocabulary.  English has a million “rules of grammar” and then a million more examples of words where the rules don’t apply. Korean also has a ton of little rules that I’m trying to memorize, as well as when those rules get broken.  Their basic sentence structure is subject/object/verb where ours is subject/verb/object. Learning that alone has helped tremendously in my classes.  Now when they say, “Teacher pencil borrow,” I am able to recognize what they are doing and why they are doing it. In turn, I can help them better. 

Even if I come out of this class knowing only slightly fewer words than I already do (which I truly hope is not the case) then I know it will, and has already, made me a better teacher.  And isn’t that really why I came to Korea in the first place?


Sorry for the lack of pictures lately…I’ll work on that.


  1. I'm a youngest child and I don't need to be the best.

  2. You are the youngest of two boys. I am the youngest of four girls. Trust me, there's a huge difference.

  3. learning a whole new set of language is fun but obviously, never an easy task. and you are learning Korean! i believe their sounds n pronunciation is far different from those English characters. lots of diphthongs. going to be hard.. (^^) good luck in learning Korean!

  4. Don't worry! I thought that class wasn't very good. Bart and I took it and we really only learned a couple things. I can't even master the alphabet yet and I have been here since July. I would really take that class and learn the phrases they give you. I don't know why Korean is so hard, I know more Japanese than Korea.

  5. I'm in your blog!!!

    Thank god we dropped out. Our independent study is kicking ass.