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Mastering Spanish & Obtaining Fluency


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About 80 million people speak Korean (natively) worldwide, which is a relatively small number compared to other languages like English (400 million), Spanish (470 million), Mandarin (960 million) or even Japanese (125 million). There probably would be more Korean speakers in the world, at least as a second language (L2) but there is something that is discouraging people from learning to speak Korean – and I’ll tell you what it is:

SYNTAX

This is probably not the case for everybody, but the more I delve into the Korean language, the more I say to myself “What did I get myself into?”. Don’t get me wrong. I love Korean and I love the challenge. I am enjoying studying Korean and feeling like jumping off a 150 foot cliff at the same time. The way the Korean folks explains things is just so very different from the way we would say it in English and in other European languages. I haven’t studied Japanese, but I hear that there are some similarities in the sentence syntax and sentence structure between Japanese and Korean. But compared to English – very different. This is what makes learning Korean take longer to learn than other languages for native English speakers.

Syntax is the way in which words and punctuation are used and arranged to form phrases, clauses and sentences. This can mean the selection of a word or the word’s tense, the arrangement of the words and the selection of the punctuation.

Syntax is also known as the study of the rules that must be followed to create well-formed phrases, clauses and sentences. (yourdictionary.com)

If you study Korean, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, here is an example of some Korean sentences to show you what I mean. These are not too complex, but you can get a sense of what I’m talking about by taking a look at them.

 

The weather’s warm and sunny today.   오늘 날씨가 따뜻하고 화창해요.

오늘                  날씨가                                                               따뜻하고                                   화창해요.

Today               weather (w/subject marker 가)               warm(is)(하고=and)            sunny(is).

 

Where are you from?  어디에서 왔어요?

어디에서                        왔어요?

Where (from)             came (you, understood)?

 

What are you interested in? 취미가 뭐예요?

취미가                                                                         뭐예요?

Hobby/interests (w/subject marker 가)          what (is)?

 

As you can see, this is a very interesting language!

 


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I figured I’d list my Korean learning routine for the tens and tens of readers of my blog:

  • Wake up at 4:30 AM.
  • Grab some coffee, a necessary nutrient.
  • By 5 AM, sit down at my desk with my “Korean From Zero” book.
  • Using the lessons, I write down every bit of Korean on the page of the book.
  • I usually end up write 1.5 to 2 pages of Korean.
  • I have not been writing vocabulary lists, just learning the words as I go along, getting to review them as the resurface.
  • If words or phrases do not make sense, or I otherwise have a question about them, I write them on my mini whiteboard and ask my wife later on, usually after I come home from work. (I’m very fortunate, as my wife is from South Korean and speaks Korean natively. This is also a main motive for learning Korean.)
  • I listen to Korean in my vehicle, whether it be podcasts or news, etc. I still don’t understand a lot, but my ears are being trained.
  • When evenings, I’ll sit with the wifey and watch a movie, news, or youtube videos in Korean. I’ve learned not to continuously say stuff like, “What does that mean? What did he say? Hey! I know that word!”. But occasionally, she will explain the gist of what’s going on. 🙂
  • Before going to bed, I’ll get on Memrise, which I’m sure if your interested enough to read this blog, you have heard of.
  • That’s pretty much it for now. I’m just taking it slow and easy and I realize that Korean language, being so diverse from Western or European languages, will take me a lot more time to learn and be proficient. It’s so much different from Spanish, Italian, Esperanto, or anything else I have studied.
  • If you have any suggestions for my language study, please comment!