Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Learning Korean: Confessions of a Cocky Bastard

My Korean is pretty good. Some might even say fluent. But the fact is that I still have a long way to go. When I was studying, the problem was that often times, I let my pride get in the way. My excuse? I was young. I mentioned before that I was born in Seoul and am half Korean so there was a lot of extra baggage there and it was difficult for me to approach the language like other students who don't have Korean blood. For example, if someone used a word that I didn't know, I would often pretend to understand and try to figure it out through context. I just didn't like to appear like my Korean was second rate, even if it was. Another example is that it really ticks me off when someone tells me that I should speak English or that it was unnecessary for me to learn Korean; these comments are especially insulting to me since the implication is that being half Korean is the same as not being Korean at all. Anyways, it always seemed like I had something to prove and it affected my studies. I didn't study as much as I should have because I didn't think I needed to; I'm half Korean, isn't that an automatic B, at least? I didn't pay much attention to words I thought were unimportant like business, economic, government, military vocab and literary grammar. I was far too busy hanging out and drinking/clubbing/gambling with my friends and speaking 'real' Korean (keep in mind I was in my late teens/ early twenties). Actually, I still enjoy those activities, but I feel like kicking myself because I had an opportunity to significantly expand my knowledge of Korean and I blew it because of pride. I'm a young professional now and me not knowing all those 'unimportant vocab/grammar' looks really bad since I am supposed to be a 'fluent' speaker. Don't get me wrong. My Korean is good, but when the conversation goes up a notch towards ROI's and investment planning to correlate to recent government legislations, I tend to stumble a bit.

Anyways, I'm older and wiser, so I learned to put my pride on the back burner. But the damage is done. I gotta go back and start from basics all over again and fill in those holes in my Korean. Especially my honorifics. Of course, living in Japan for the last three years and not speaking Korean all that often didn't help matters. I decided to work with the Integrated Korean (KLEAR) series from the University of Hawaii. Seems to be the best of the bunch out there and includes some great accompanying materials. There is one good thing that came out of this, though. I learned to appreciate my opportunities because the cost of wasting them is high.


SY huang said...

Business, financial and accounting terms would definitely be tricky. For the non-finance lay person whose 1st language is English, financial terms would be Greek too, so what more Korean financial terms to the student learning Korean. HKSE used to have a bilingual glossary but I could not find the same over at the Korean stock exchange (probably dunno where to look ^-^)

Man of the Awa said...

well, i still feel a lot of regret not paying more attention. at the time, it didn't feel relevent. of course learning financial terms and what not will take a lot of time, but i was talking more along the lines of the simple stuff like interest or rate or return that is pretty common knowledge for the average person.