All posts filed under: General

First ever Korean class

So after many months of not really studying Korean (despite what it looks like on my blog, I rarely pick up a textbook and study. Almost everything I write about comes from random one-off things I read in Korean.) I decided what I really needed was external motivation to take my skill to the next level. SO! I signed up for Advanced Korean classes at San Jose Language Center. I really feel like I struck gold here because it’s incredibly close to where I live and it’s a language school designed for adults – which means all classes are after working hours. There are only two other students in the class and they’re both of Korean heritage. At first, the instructor said she was worried when she saw me (clearly not of Korean heritage) on her roster but we conversed for a bit, and then afterward, she said I might actually be too advanced for the class. Welp? Either way, I was really nervous about taking an actual class for Korean that’s also completely taught in Korean. In my 7-ish years of …

What I learned from taking TOPIK II without studying

I almost didn’t even show up for the exam. Aside from a couple hours of reviewing grammar back in January, I didn’t prepare for TOPIK at all. I didn’t even spend time looking over old tests. But, as painful as I knew it was going to be, I knew there was still value in just taking it, regardless of whether I do well or not. I paid for the exam, might as well try to learn something from the experience. So… it happened, and these are the things I know I should work on for October. Spend more time studying for the listening section. I consider listening one of my strengths in Korean, but this section made me realize I need to diversify the topics I listen to. (Granted even our test proctor said she found some of the dialogues difficult to understand!) Listening to the news more would definitely help, for example. I need to make a serious, focused effort to study for the listening section. I have a lot more resources for studying grammar and vocabulary, …

Language Tag

Well, this is fun! Riccardo of Kaito Monogatari tagged me in this language learning questionnaire. Of all the people I know studying Japanese, Riccardo is the most prolific reader of Japanese literature that I know of. I hope I can be just as good some day. Anyway, thanks for tagging me, Riccardo! I’m always happy to talk about myself (heh). What would you consider your native language? English and Marathi (of the South Indian variety, but who’s nitpicking?). Marathi is my mother tongue; my entire extended family speaks it and I’m still attached to it, though I’m not very good. What was your first language learning experience? French class in 5th grade. I don’t know why my elementary school offered a second language, but I’m glad it did, and I learned a lot, surprisingly! Pretty much all of high school  French 1 was a repeat of what I had learned in 5th grade. What languages have you studied and why did you learn them? Oh gosh. Where do I even begin. French  – I studied this for four years in high school (and that …

Blogging resolutions for 2016

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I think people can and should resolve to improve themselves throughout the year. (Besides, most people end up giving up on their resolutions mere weeks into the year, so why set yourself up for failure?) Dividing up time into years and such is a human construct and celebrating a new year is actually meaningless. But no need to get nihilistic about it, right?! Joking aside, I get it. What with the holiday spirit in the air and days off from work/school and time spent with family, people get nostalgic at the end of the year. They reflect and realize things they could have done better. Things they will do better in the coming year. On that note, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be a better language blogger in the coming year. So here we go. These are my blogging resolutions for 2016. Post more.  I’ve been fairly regular with my blog posts, averaging about 1 a month. What a sad number though. I’m not going to get too …

The problem with self-studying

It’s not a problem per se.  More like a challenge, and one that can be frustrating and amusing in equal measures. When you’ve moved past the beginner stuff and are now immersing yourself in the books, TV shows, music, etc. of a certain language, you’re probably going to develop a very specific – and sometimes irrelevant – vocabulary.  Unless you’re super diligent and make an effort to diversify what you’re reading and watching, you’re going to find yourself learning words like autopsy and murderer and suspect instead of normal words like… uh…  mailman. Maybe that’s just me.  (I like watching crime shows.) Case in point:  I can’t believe I went six years not knowing the word for mailman in Korean. That’s like one of those words I roll my eyes at when I find them in textbook vocabulary lists (e.g. “Chapter 3: Your Neighborhood”) because do I really need to know how to say words like bank and grocery store when I’m probably never going to live in the country where the native language is spoken?  Just teach me the good stuff! I’m not even kidding when …

World Connections

Yes, yes, I know – and you do too if you been following me on Twitter or Instagram – I got back from Japan a whole week ago so where be all the Japan posts?!?  All in good time, friends.  I’m not even done writing about Korea from a whole year ago.  Spoiler alert:  I only slightly fail at writing travelogues. Anyway, a few days ago, I was at a job interview for a position that is heavily focused on writing and communication (EDIT:  I GOT THE JOB).  One question I got was “Why writing?” – aside from the fact that I must be a fairly good writer, being an ex-PhD student and all (not universally true, by the way), why was I choosing to make writing the focal point of my career path now? I hadn’t thought about that question at all, really.  The duh answer is that I’ve always loved writing and language.  And writing about language.  Naturally, I brought up this blog.  This blog is the perfect marriage of my two greatest passions and being able to …

Brief Update

So I see that I have been getting in at least one post every month and I don’t plan on breaking that flow (though I really would like to post more often though).  I have SO many posts still stuck in drafts because they take thought and energy to write and… honestly, I’ve been lacking in that department for a few weeks now.  I’ve made no secret about the fact that I struggle with depression and, yes, I’m going through a bit of a low at the moment. But for those of you who may be curious, here are a couple general updates about the state of my life, this blog, etc. 1) For various reasons, I deleted my tumblr a few months ago and I’ve been much happier without it.  The downside is I’ve lost all the casual translations that I’ve posted on there for the past 4 years so many of the links on my “Translations” page are dead.  Boo.  But not to worry – I have started a portfolio of my translations on Google Drive …

Status update

It’s 12:30 AM and I may or may not be eating Cheez-Its out of the box at this very moment. Lots of stupidity going on in my life.  Things have been tailspinning since February and I feel like I’m falling deeper and deeper into a hole I won’t be able to climb out of.  I think I’m going to have to make a major decision soon but, for once, I’d like to have the chance to choose one way or the other, and not be forced into one direction.  I dunno if I’m going to get that chance. Anyway, this is a little potpourri post about what I’ve been up to with regards to my Korean studies/immersion. 1)   I’m starting to regularly watch things without subtitles. It’s liberating.  I find that often I don’t even notice the lack of subtitles.  This is nice because many of the drama sites I was using in the past are shutting down (RIP Dramacrazy), and it’s much easier to find raw episodes elsewhere within hours of it airing in Korea. …

Korean pronunciation II: Colleagues & Pomegranates

Immediately after I learned Hangeul, I stumbled across a long, complicated list of Korean pronunciation rules.  It set off mental alarm bells.  Unlike Japanese kana, which I was learning at the time, Korean apparently wasn’t as simple as learning the alphabet and pronouncing what I see.  My reaction to these “advanced” rules was decidedly not to whip out a deck of flashcards and write out every consonant combination and pronunciation and spend hours memorizing them.  Rather, my reaction was to quickly close the webpage, forget about it, and get back to the Korean drama or podcast or whatever it was that I was listening to. Because, unsurprisingly, the key to really learning how Korean words are pronounced is to constantly listen to them.  Watch enough dramas, films, and variety shows and you will inevitably begin to pick up commonly-repeated words and phrases.  Throw in some light reading or textbook studying, and you’ll figure out how to spell some of those words and phrases (or vice versa).  Soon it will become apparent that some words have …