발렌타인데이 선물을 놀아요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: a Valentine’s surprise.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, or, in this case, a thousand corrections. I’ve talked before about the occasional gulf between my intended sentence kn Korean and the actual corrections that are supplied by the internet audience. I’m starting to realize that when my musings receive a facelift, it generally means, “try again on Sunday. 선생님 will know what I’m talking about.

This divide came to a head again earlier this week on Valentine’s Day, when I wrote about the surprise Valentine I received from my boss (I’M APPRECIATED!). I received chocolate, which, as a diabetic, is pretty much worthless to me. I appreciate the sentiment though, even if I can’t appreciate the chocolaty goodness. The thought truly does count here.

So I wrote about it in my typical style, ending with the joke about how now I fear my boss is trying to kill me. (A “joke,” by the way, that went over the head of every Korean who read it.) I thought I did pretty good, so here are the internet results:

As you can see, a sea of red. Trying not to be disheartened, and bolstered by the fact that translating said “corrections” brought up some humorous results, I soldered on until Thursday morning, when I’d meet up with my friend. Here’s his corrections:

There, literally four words wrong. I went from an ocean of red to a handful of letters. Thus I’m feeling stronger by the day.


이것은 한국을 왜사랑해요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: This is why I love Korea.

So two days ago (Thursday night), I “met” this guy online through HelloTalk. Spoke to him a little bit, got distracted by a million other conversations, and didn’t hear back until this morning. At which point, this happened:

Long story short, he asked about my love of exercising, I mentioned I can’t because of my busted knees, and he immediately asked if I was going to a physical therapist. And noting that I already know that steroids aren’t good. Completely changing the topic of tomorrow’s class (I’ll have a room full of local Koreans who I’m counting on being able to point me in the right direction for some PT (물리치료).

Just like that. The village mentality wins again.

지난 일요일엔 큰 실수나 똑똑한 매수를 했어요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on February 11, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Last Sunday, I made a big mistake or a smart purchase.

I bought these!

And immediately started chronicling my purchase and thoughts about it.

As you can see, the officially Korean-ified results weren’t half bad! At class, even I knew that I had, for some reason, spelt “shoes” wrong (누두 instead of the proper, and what I was hearing in my head, 구두).

The shoes are hand-made, feel like I’m walking on air, and the result of too many thoughts going wrong. First, I went into the store to ask about them because I had fallen in love with them earlier, and wanted to practice my Korean. Figuring there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in hell they have my size.

“I’ll go upstairs to check! Be right back!”

Crap. Okay, maybe they wouldn’t be comfortable. Again, like walking on air. Did I have the money? Yup. Did I want them? Yep.

So I bit the bullet and bought a pair of grown-up shoes. And decided to stop drinking both coffee and soda for two weeks to offset the cost. I’m apparently a masochist who only enjoys torture when it’s self-inflicted.

오늘, 아침 식사를 전에, 소설을 썼어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on February 9, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Today, before breakfast, I wrote a novel.

So I’ve found that I do my best in Korean before breakfast. Or, if not breakfast, before I’ve done anything else. Somehow the morning walk to and from my usual coffee shop stop has become prime writing time.

(Or “composition time,” as writing in a notebook while walking is tough. Doing so in a foreign language makes it even tougher.)

One new tactic I’ve adopted, to try to get the new(er) ideas to stick, or to give older, more problematic, words a refresher is to use them. So this morning, I ran across “개발하다” (to develop). It’s a word that, while certainly useful, honestly isn’t used too often in my everyday conversations, so it’s easily forgotten. To counteract this, I drafted this:

(NOTE: the red additions were done while typing this onto HelloTalk. Nothing wrong with being more descriptive, even if its timing isn’t the best.)

That all being said, a straight-on glance only yields one noticeable mistake: “억양” which means “accent” rather than the more appropriate (not to mention correct) “발음” – “pronunciation.” That and I used a new conjugation form : ~어 버리다 (here 버려요) instead of a more conventional ending. (버리다 is used to accentuate/stress an ending, and honestly doesn’t warrant being there besides me wanting to cement it into my brain.)

As can be easily seen, my biggest mistake (when I’m not shoehorning in inappropriate tenses just to remember them) was (as is normal for me) subject/object markers. But there seems t9 have been fewer this time! A win!

2019년의 첮번째 성공이에요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on February 4, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: 2019’s first success!

Today I present to you perhaps my greatest accomplishment in Korean. A story, almost completely understandable by Koreans from my original attempt (first draft, if you will). I later had a Korean friend review it with me, and while he did find corrections, he agreed it was understandable as is. So I’m counting it as 2019’s first major success.

“Teacher, do you believe in Santa?”

“Santa? Of course I believe in Santa! Who else is bringing me presents?”

“Parents! My parents buy my presents!”

[Pointing] “Your parents? Why would your parents buy me presents?”

“No teacher! My parents buy me presents!”

“Wait a minute. So you’re saying your parents buy you presents…”


“…and then Santa brings you more presents? We have a word for that in English, we call that: greedy. You need to share. Tim Teacher wants presents.”

조금의 밤이 놀라기들이 가독 찬 가지고 있어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on February 1, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Some nights are full of surprises.

This is my normal work station. Random Korean text (often written elsewhere) waiting to be posted on HelloTalk, which is then also waiting for me to find a coffee shop to sit down in and type it. This can take forever, if it ever gets done at all, thanks to my habit of rewriting each and everything I’ve already written.

The top of that page represents my original draft. The bottom paragraph represents said draft after I typed it and filled it out. Mind you, this isn’t a surprise, as I’ve been writing this way since college.

I’m on the fence about whether this is a good language learning strategy or not. On the one hand, it allows me to expand my vocabulary while getting (almost) immediate feedback over whether it works out or not. On the other, I sort of want to keep my Korean simple in the sense that what I write is what I can say off the cuff. No dictionaries, no outside help. Just me and my brain.

I prefer the latter, but experience has shown my off the cuff speaking ability to be improving, my sentences actively expanding from past basic statements into stringing together independent clauses. Leaving me back where I started in terms of bewilderment.

—Post Script—

I’ve seen to have come down on the “keep on, keeping on” side of the argument. Hell, one of my “hail mary” statements from my last (major) writing exercise didn’t turn out half bad. Okay, it wasn’t anywhere near correct, but I could understand the correction, which is a huge step forward.

당신은 저를 어떻게 사랑하지 않아요?

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on January 29, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Why don’t you love me?

Facebook’s new deal this (New) year seems to be comparing old photos of yourself with current ones. As a hater of selfies, as well as trends, I figured a better tactic would be to compare some early Korean writing vs. where I’m at now. So here’s the earliest writing I can find with a cursory (i.e. basic, almost no key words, etc.) search on here (from June-ish 2016):

Versus a recent example:

“Hey look, I can string moderately fluent sentences together now!”

지우개 낭비예요?

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on January 25, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Eraser poop?

One of the untold magic moments of teaching, when your Korean student hits you with an English term that completely blows your mind: eraser poop.

“Teacher, [points to his eraser scrap] ‘eraser poop.'”

How else could I possibly respond? Should I quit as I don’t believe I even know what to call that. “Eraser scraps/waste?” Or is “poop” the proper term?

또 하나의 얘기를 이마트에 대해요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: Another story about E-Mart.

I think I just blew that cashier’s mind. First she was amazed by the fact that I can use self-service checkout counters. Then, when I explained to her why I could, in Korean, i.e. I ran a customer service department in the States, her eyes went wide(rj. (She has wide, rat-eyes. Which is why we talk so much.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the gory details. I’ll need to study harder. (Mainly, when the maintenance guy at your store goes by the name “Scooter,” you’re going to be fixing everything yourself. It’s faster, and generally stays fixed longer that way.)

I also learned a new trick in impressing Koreans: just keep talking. My Korean ability is like a suicide bike rolling downhill. As long as I’m talking, everything’s fine enough. But as soon as I stop, they start asking questions, and that’s when the wheels come off. I can link clauses together to make more complex sentences than “The crayon is black,” but I’ll be more damned if I can understand anyone else when they do it.

제 수업들은 얘기를 똥에 대해 더 말할 때 저는 더 좋아수록 그들을 좋아해요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on January 19, 2019 by shenanitim

Translation: the more my classes talk about poop, the better I like them.

“Jinhyeong, what do you do when you have a stomachache?”

“I poo.”


“I poo-poo.” He said this amongst a discordant chorus of voices also shouting “poop” in case I couldn’t understand him. I’ve trained them well.