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The “F” word

Oh, you all know the one I’m talking about.

As language learners, I think we’ve all thought about fluency at one point or another.  It’s to be expected.  For many people, fluency is the ultimate end goal of their language studies, often driven by external motivation (e.g. wanting to watch TV shows without subtitles, understand music without translations, communicate with celebrities, etc.)  It’s a way to keep them going when they hit plateaus or troughs.   What, they might ask, is the point of learning a language, if not to become fluent?  I can’t quite understand people like that, honestly.  I am in constant amazement of people who have the discipline to put themselves through the rigors of dry textbook learning, routinely, all in the name of the “F” word.  Kudos to you.

In my case, I’ve experimented with lots of different languages and, for one reason or another, Korean’s the only one that really stuck.  The only thing I did differently was to make up my mind to ignore the “F” word.  And, bam, suddenly I was in a free-for-all, no strings attached relationship.  It’s amazing how much one begins to relish the actual process of learning new things when one doesn’t have the “F” word dangling over one’s head.

Among language learners, I’m perhaps the odd one for considering fluency a burden rather than a goal.  If anything, it feels so far out of reach that it’s actually demotivating.

But here’s where I am – 2 years and five months into learning Korean and stuck in molasses since January.  Getting sidetracked by Hindi, which I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with for years.  Now I’m starting to think maybe it is time to start setting goals, or I might be stuck in this rut forever  Something small, like passing Intermediate level TOPIK or making it through a short novella or maybe finishing those Integrated Korean textbooks I bought last year.  (Speaking of books I’ll never finish, I recently bought myself a copy 노부타를 프로듀스 to get me motivated again.)

In any case, while ignoring the “F” word was good to get me past that initial learning curve, I’m at a point in my Korean learning where I need to set goals that will allow me to progress and improve.  Changing my self-study approach might be the only way to get myself un-stuck and back on track to loving and learning Korean again.  It’s definitely worth a try. :)

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