It’s been nearly two years since I first started learning Korean. I’m not sure if I’ve spent this time effectively enough or if I even have anything to show for it – all I know is that I’ve enjoyed every single step I’ve taken to get to where I am today. I’m really grateful for all my fellow bloggers and friends who’ve encouraged and helped me in every way. Hope you are all having a very happy holiday season.
This week, for the first time since I started learning Korean, I spoke in Korean to a Korean friend of mine through skype. Usually, I’m pretty paranoid about giving out my contact information and/or talking to people I’ve just met over the internet but I had met this particular friend through me2day over the summer and we’d talked on and off. He seemed quite nice! He usually commented on all of my me2day posts, engaged me in conversation, and always offered to help me whenever I had questions about Korean. I learned about 수능 through him as well, since he was a 수험생 this year. After he got a smart phone, we chatted a lot with each other using Kakaotalk, which really helped me think on my feet!
Anyway, we’d been talking about skyping for a while and he kept saying that we should do it at a time that was convenient for me but, to be honest, I was incredibly nervous and so I kept blowing him off. Until finally! I decided I should just do it. As much as I think reading+writing+listening+speaking are all important components of language learning, speaking has always been something I disregarded because there was just no opportunity at all to practice speaking in Korean where I live. I didn’t know a single Korean person and all my Korean-American friends were more comfortable speaking in English.
But I’m so glad I took this opportunity to skype with my friend even though I was so so so incredibly nervous at first. For the first five minutes, all I could keep saying was “어 진짜 어색해 ㅠㅠ” over and over again.
To that my friend replied, “누나 진짜 한국사람 같아!”
Heh. Well, that was pretty generous of him but it gave me a lot of confidence.
Frankly speaking, my spoken Korean is very BAD. Like, horrible. According to my level of experience, I’d say my writing is above average but my speaking is way below average. That being said, my friend spoke to me entirely in Korean and I managed to speak in a weird mix of Korean and English ( 영어+한국어 = 영국어?) and I consider that somewhat of an accomplishment. Haha.
The entire experience was kind of surreal because, for the first time, I was actually saying all these words that I’d read and used in writing and utilizing them in a conversation. I’m quite proud of my listening abilities too, since I was able to understand pretty much everything my friend was saying to me.
I really do have to give most of the credit to my friend, though. Despite being much younger than me, he seemed to know exactly how to hold a conversation at my level of Korean. If I couldn’t understand a question, he rephrased it using easier words. If I didn’t know a word, he’d define it for me using really simple Korean. We talked about a lot of different things – really basic stuff like what we did that day, our hobbies, music, dramas, language in general (he kept saying he was envious of my English pronunciation haha), how to improve my Korean and his English. The amazing thing is that he understood what I was trying to say even if I screwed up the grammar or the word.
We managed to talk for an entire hour like that.
Honestly, I was completely like “신기해!!” the entire time. I remember feeling the same way when I left a comment in Korean for the first time ever at TTMIK and Hyunwoo replied back in Korean. The fact that I am getting better and better at interacting with others in both written and spoken Korean is somehow slowly stripping the language of its “foreignness” to me – and that’s a really great feeling.
Looking forward to speaking more Korean in the new year. ^^