Immersing oneself in a foreign language seems much more difficult than I thought, especially when your native tongue is English. Almost everywhere you go in the world, someone speaks English. Most of the time getting around foreign towns is a breeze. This is not always the case in small town Korea, but usually you can mime yourself to safety.
I blame the “English crutch system” all over Korea on the difficulty of learning Korean. Here we live in Korea, but still struggle with learning the language. We have learned enough to get by, but it is still grossly inadequate. I found myself listening to a Korean podcast yesterday and only listening closely to the English to see what had just been said in Korean. I guess I have lazy ears that match my lazy brain. In an attempt to learn more everyday Korean, Lindsay and I have taped our windows, trashcan, doors and appliances with their Korean names. Sometimes this exercise is also lost on my English brain…”What is the name for door again….oh yeah, that” refusing to sound it out.
I enjoy listening to Korean now to see if I can pick up on anything. Usually, I only hear one or two random words. I can hear “this,” “here,” “America” and “study” in conversation, but I am pretty sure I am missing the crux of the argument. Nevertheless, I tune in to my co-teachers conversations to hear what they have to say.
It is fun learning what little I have and making plans to learn more, because I would love to talk, even just a little Korean, to the people in our neighborhood who have been so nice to us. Or so Lindsay can speak to the part-time teacher at Songwon who wears hanbok everyday, and will speak to Lindsay in Korean despite the fact Lindsay clearly doesn’t speak the language.
I think communicating with them would be well worth the effort, as I can’t imagine what stories we would have to tell from those conversations. But only knowing how to say “watermelon” in Korean isn’t going to get my thoughts across….although this time of year being watermelon season, it just might.
More Korean television. I love watching these guys, who have taped this show completely on the set of a Korean bathhouse where they are having a sing-off. I think watching it helps me with my Korean.