All posts tagged: language

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 …

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 …

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 …

@urimal365

If you’re at the advanced-intermediate-ish level in Korean have a Twitter account, make sure you’re following @urimal365, if you’re not already!  This is the official twitter account of The National Institute of the Korean Language (국립국어원), where they answer several questions on a daily basis about everything and anything related to the language – grammar, usage, spacing, spelling, honorifics, meaning, shortened forms, expressions, etc. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be for native speakers so all of the questions and explanations are in Korean.  You may need to brush up on your Korean grammar terminology (check out my list – which I need to update) but if you’ve been using Korean websites to help with learning grammar, the explanations are pretty simple to follow.  I noticed that a LOT of questions are about 띄어 쓰기 and spelling.  Some of the questions surprise me because it’s stuff that I actually already know but then it made me realize – there are a lot of things about “proper” English grammar that I don’t know and have to look up …

5 Tips on taking on another foreign language

As I forge onward in my Japanese studies and toy with the idea of dabbling in Italian again (I studied Italian for a couple months long before getting into Korean), unsurprisingly, I find myself faced with road blocks.  It’s not an easy task self-studying one language and it seems counterproductive to study seven or eight at the same time, but I’m sure I’m not the only language learner out there to indulge in the occasional new-language sabbatical.  I don’t know about you, but I really miss that “Everything is New and Shiny and Exciting!!!” phase of language learning. That being said, these are a couple of things I’m trying to keep in mind as I start to study Japanese in earnest. 1)  Kill two birds with one stone.  If you’re comfortable enough in the first foreign language (FL1) you started out with, try to incorporate it into the new one you’ve decided to tackle.  Again, be logical with this, because it’s probably not a great idea to learn Japanese through Spanish, if Spanish is your FL1.  It might make more …

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, …

Biology of the language-learning brain

A lot of my friends are neuroscience majors so, out of curiosity and because I had some extra space in my schedule, I decided to take an intro-level behavioral neuroscience course this semester. BIG MISTAKE. I have never experienced a class so frustratingly boring in my life.  And it’s a real pity because I know that neuroscience can and should be somewhat interesting (it’s the brain, for heaven’s sake) but… it’s not. Except for today. (Source) We started talking about language and cognition and of course my ears perked up because I’ve always had a fascination for the science behind learning a foreign language.  How does the brain comprehend new phonemes and new grammar structures?  Where and how does it form a new “dictionary”?  How does it affect other parts of behavior?  To what extent is language a learned behavior and to what extent is it innate? If anyone else is interested in this topic, I suggest NOT taking a neuroscience class.  Instead, try perusing The Language Instinct by Harvard professor, cognitive scientist, and linguist Steven Pinker. …