ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 30

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2017 by shenanitim


As the above atests to, I did it again. A ton of new vocabulary, spread out all throughout the week, with nary an end in sight.

I started moving this week, so I fear there won’t be many updates for the next couple weeks. Settling in, moving things around, cleaning the old apartment, etc. Not fun, but that’s the price you pay for a bigger place.


This week the biggest takeaway was transportation vocabulary. Some of which is useful 선찰 계단 (stairs), and some of which are essentially pointless 안전선 (safety line). Leave it to me to have learnt “safety line” before “stairs;” even though Jeonju has a lot more stairs than safety lines. (We don’t have a subway system here, making the book’s section (basically this chapter) on learning Seoul’s subway system pretty useless.

I did learn a new conjugation though – ~야 되다; which is basically “must.” Used for things you have to do. It’ll be useful once I can scrape together some free time and actually start playing with it.

The other takeaway is the sad state of my Forecast stat. It hasn’t been this overloaded since I accidentally doubled my amount of usable cards months ago. [Editor’s note: Way back in August Tim! Oh, how time flies!] But at least then I could see an end in sight. Here, the numbers just keep compounding.

Anki default settings gives you (a maximum of) 100 cards to review a day, plus (up to) 20 new words. I have 129 due for tomorrow, not counting the ~90 I have left over for today. Factor in my desire to keep force-feeding myself vocabulary, and I might need to play with the system defaults to at least let me work myself down to 0 and start fresh.

Or I can just keep sludging through, as I did last time. As the Intervals spread out, then the card numbers will become more evenly distributed. Part of this is due to how I rate my cards. New cards, unless they’re super easy (basically phonetic spellings of English words – 엘리베터 엘리베이터 (elevator), for example, then I always rate the word “Hard” for at lest the first week. This way I won’t unnaturally rank a card highly and then see it 7 days later and have no clue what it is because I’ve only seen it twice.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 29

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks! with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2017 by shenanitim


“You’ve learned the alphabet right? [Opens notebook.] Maybe we should start there…”

Amazingly enough, I was excited when my teacher mentioned this last night. We had run across 어떻게 (by what means) last night, and I was (obviously) having trouble pronouncing it. While I have covered the alphabet in class before (it was one of the first things I learned), one aspect of the alphabet that we didn’t cover in depth was Korea’s double consonants.


In Korean, all the letters are arranged/designed according to their phonetic structure. 바 / 파 / 빠 being an example. The first 바 (baw) has a soft “b” sound; almost like the cross between a “b” and a “p.” The next, 파 (paw), has a traditional “p” sound. The final, the double consonant, 빠 (Buh), has a hard “b” sound.

We went over these sounds for a good 10 minutes before my teacher finally called it quits out of a mixture of frustration and… more frustration? While he claimed I had made some improvements in my pronunciation, he also added that any Koreans who heard me talking would understand me. And understand why I was talking as I did; since I was a foreigner and all.

“I think you’re saying [pointing to the first column of letters ㅂ, ㅅ, ㄱ, ㄷ, and ㅈ] these too hard.”

I laughed, in between my attempts to get it right, as I’ve heard that line before. In this class. I can distinctly remember having a similar conversation with my first teacher when I was trying to get one word just right. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it to sound right. “You’re saying it too hard,” she noted. To which I replied, “That’s how I talk. I pronounce everything hard.”

She laughed, agreed, and then made the aforementioned realization that no one’s ever going to mistake me for a native Korean, so pinpoint phonetic accuracy might not be needed. Picking her (and now his) battles, so to speak.


As far as Anki goes, I took to adding more vocabulary last week, but less than the data dump from a couple weeks ago. Trying to keep myself sane here. Though I’m often mixed about whether that’s the right approach or not. While I feel that overloading myself with vocabulary will ultimately lead me to learning less; as I won’t be able to focus on everything, I honestly have no way of knowing whether this is true or not.

I bounce between two schools of thought here. On one hand, using the controlled approach, I feel that I’ll be able to retain more. Or the other hand, my retention is hovering around 85%, with a word bank of around 2000. Granted, all my flashcards are front and back, so that only amounts to around 1000 words; minus even more as some cards are grammatical exercises.

Now, by no means am I saying my usable Korean vocabulary is 1000. My recall isn’t perfect, and I’m rusty on many of the older cards. But I also feel that no matter how great the increase in words per week, I still won’t be able to use all of them perfectly. Some just won’t be applicable to my life, or I might not care to learn them all.

For instance, I still have to actively recall the verb conjugation to indicate I should do something (~V을까요), but have no problem with saying I want to do something (~V고 싶어요). Is this a case of one being harder than the other, of one being learned in a cluster that was too packed, or a personal taste issue? If I do challenge myself with a huge load of new vocabulary, will the same sorting occur as if I had spaced them out enough to (hopefully) make it easier?

Further complicating things is, how if you look at the last graphs, my “Buried/Leech” card pile has decreased by 50% (from 4% of my total cards to 2%). I did this after reading an interesting take on spaced repetition, flashcard vocabulary learning. With Anki, after you miss a card x amounts of time, it gets removed from the deck (becoming a “leech”) because it’s leeching your efforts from cards that’ll be easier for you.

While that makes sense in a time/effort sense, it’ll also leave you with some holes in your vocabulary. But this is only true if you look at learning new vocabulary in a strictly black-and-white/binary type lens. Rather than 100% right or wrong, you can also (as I’ve started doing) loading those bothersome cards back into your deck, but edited so that the answer is now on the front of the card. So that you’ll still be seeing the vocabulary (and thus it’ll still be making some sort of impression), even if you’re no longer struggling with the word.

어머니가 점원에게 “고맙다고” 말했어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , on January 5, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: The mother said “thank you” to the clerk.


One of the things that makes living in a foreign country so much fun, especially when learning the local language, is how even going to the corner convenience store (변의점; 편의점) can become an adventure.

Tonight’s trip was either great, or terrible, depending on how you want to look at it. On the one hand, I completely failed at recognizing a word that I spent a full week practicing (in this case, 고맙다 – thank you).

고맙다 is a strange word. It means “thank you,” but tonight was seriously the only time I’ve ever heard it out in the wild. (I’m not counting hearing it in my Korean textbook; which is how I learned it.) Most often you’ll hear the 감사 합니다 version of “thank you;” which is the only version I knew of for my first two years in Korea.

So tonight a mother (어모니; 어머니) was talking to the store’s clerk (가게의 학점 점원) and their conversation ended with her saying, “고맙다.” This then proceeded to drive me crazy, because I had seriously spent my entire vacation time in Japan practicing 고맙다. (Incorrectly as 고마바요, rather than the rpoper 고마워요. (읍 verb endings transform into  우 when conjugated.))

Adding to the recognition difficulties was how most temperature verbs use either -맙 or a veriation thereof. So while I waited, I was scouring my brain (“Well ‘cold to the touch’ is ‘차겁다 차갑다,’ but this wasn’t that. It wasn’t ‘뜨닷다 따뜻다’ (to be warm) nor ‘선원하다 시원하다’ (to be cool). What was it?”) until I exited the store, at which point it came to me: THANK YOU!

So like I said, I can take this two ways. On one hand, if I focus on my forgetting a word that I had practiced extensively for a week, then I’ll feel terrible. On the other hand, if I focus on the fact that I knew I was wrong, and eventually recalled the correct answer, then I’ll feel a great deal better.

And that’s the direction I’m going to allow myself to take on this.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 28

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2017 by shenanitim

What a change two weeks can make. While I still struggled with some of the vocabulary questions asked of me this week, working with my teacher (the same young one from the last, pre-vacation class) went immensely better.

Realizing that he didn’t get me and my learning style (i.e. extremely quiet, lots of bothersome grammatical questions), I went the other way: actually being social. Asking him questions about his school, his hobbies, all that (what I consider) banal shit. And it worked. Worked wonders. He had a good time, and I was able to maneuver the class into the areas I wanted to go.

This week was largely based around me playing with the grammatical concepts we briefly covered last week. Largely using “or” in Korean (N(이)나 N). I wanted to dive deeper into this; both to get more experience with the idea while stretching my vocabulary as far as it’ll go. (Sadly, still not as far as I’d like.)


As far as the Anki front goes, I didn’t add any new words while I was on vacation, but that worked out fine because I also found out that dumping 100+ new words into my deck in a span of four days is mental suicide. You’re just asking for problems with recall at that point; especially when most of the words are similar (exhibit, exhibition, (modern) concert, classical concert, etc.), and many of the terms share syllables. (“연” and “회”show up numerous times: 전시회 (exhibit) and 음악회 (classical concert) or 연극, 공연, and 연금 (a play, a performance, and a pension respectively.)

Not a cool move on my part two weeks ago. One that I was paying for over until around now-ish; as I’ve finally been able to recall some of them correctly. (Sadly, some of the words listed above were found and/or spelt correctly using my travel dictionary.)

Speaking of which (spelling), I really wish Anki had a special spelling feature, as I really need it. It seems like half of my teacher’s time is spent correcting my spelling; which probably wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t so proud of my spelling in English.

But I guess we all had to start somewhere, and I really doubt I was a spelling champ right from the start…

죄 송 합니다

Posted in Off-Season Reviews, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , on January 1, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: I’m sorry.

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past week. As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Japan for my Christmas vacation, and this is the first time I’ve sat in my chair in my apartment in over a week. Needless to say, I’m exhausted even if I spent nearly two days of this trip in transit.

A lot was bought, a lot was experienced, and a lot (more) was photographed, and that’ll all be showing up in the weeks to come. For now, a teaser as well as what I’m looking at when I see my bed.

제 머리가 아파요

Posted in Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , on December 22, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: I have a headache.

Winter vacation starts tomorrow. I’m headed off to Japan for nearly a week of wandering around, with no real plans besides “look at cool stuff.” This is essentially how all my vacations start – a plane ticket to somewhere I’ve never been, and don’t really want to go, besides some general idea of “I haven’t seen that. Let’s go there!”


I had one mission for this trip: see (or stay at) the Book and Bed Hostel. That’s right, I’m going to (another) foreign nation to see a book store full of (more) books that I (still) can’t understand. And I’m paying to do it!

Despite my English and Math SAT scores being nearly identical, I’m really doubling down on this whole “I’m an English major” thing.

Just like every trip I’ve ever taken, not only have I done minimal planning setting it up, but I’ve also restrained from doing any actual packing either. I’m literally 23 hours away from leaving, and I’ve yet to pull my luggage out of storage. I’ll most likely be waking up at 4AM tomorrow just to throw random clothes into a bag. I’ll be gone 8 days, I need 16 pairs of socks! 

This would be scary if it wasn’t so predictable.

Pretty much the only precaution I’ve taken this year is storing my flight itinerary somewhere I can find it. No joke – last year when I went to LA I arrived at the airport with a bag and a vague recollection that I had a ticket. No clue who the airlines was, or anything like that. I’m hoping to avoid that this year.

Also adding to this stress-induced headache is the little fact that I became a real adult this year. I officially hired an accountant!

Not that I make enough money to need an accountant, but mainly so I can be sure someone is navigating Korea’s tax system on my behalf. I paid the man last night though, so essentially this factor has been laid to rest.

Next year I’m just going to follow my 한극어 선상님의 advice and book a Korean sightseeing (한국 구경하고 있다)  tour aboard a train. Just veg out in front of a window for a week; watching the (snow covered) Korean countryside pass me by.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 27

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2016 by shenanitim

And then things come full circle. You’ll remember how, a few weeks ago, I felt bad because I had an extremely frustrating class. But I was conflicted, as I was angry at not (really) learning anything, but also ashamed because I felt I had also frustrated my teacher.

(Making things worse, in hindsight, is the unfortunate fact that said teacher hasn’t returned since. I really didn’t mean to scare him off.)

This week I feel as if the opposite thing happened, where I was frustrating my teacher because I came prepared (as I always do: textbook, notebooks, (plenty of) questions, etc.) and ready to learn.


One of the reasons these Koreans so graciously sacrifice their Sunday nights teaching Korean to foreigners is to practice their English. So getting stuck with me, especially when I’m in full-blown “I’m gonna learn everything thrown at me tonight” mode must be quite the letdown.

This guy doesn’t want to talk. Doesn’t want to compare weekend notes. All he wants to do is construct simple sentences and make me quiz him about this book’s vocabulary!

So another apology going out to my teacher this week after the fact. He did a great job, as I learned a lot and left the class feeling super excited about learning (in general); though I’m not sure I expressed that well enough to him personally.


My big takeaways this week being that my spelling is horrible, but my sentence construction is (apparently) on-point. Meaning that while neatly every sentence I wrote out for him had some kind of spelling mistake, usually the only issue was said spelling. Word choice and usage were usually correct.

On the Anki scene, not much new vocabulary this week, besides what’s already been reported earlier. (The new words you see in the queue today were added after class, but before I started writing this post. They’ll be completed before I fall asleep.)


아기 걸음마

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on December 13, 2016 by shenanitim

Translation: Baby steps.

I know I’ve talked about the joy of discovering the baby steps you’ve made in a foreign language before, but tonight making (more) flashcards it occurred to me again. And it feels awesome. (이것을 좋게 느껴요.)


Here’s ground zero for my new “cracker” flashcard: 과자. Nothing outwardly amazing about it; except you might be amused to see that in Korea cookies and Combos are considered practically the same thing.

What kept me fascinated and amazed was how, after typing the word into and waiting for the pronounciation to pull up, I made my own guess about how it’d sound. And I was correct. Just that, one tiny, little, baby step towards understanding/towards fluency is all I need to stay motivated.

That and exchanges such as these:

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 26

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on December 11, 2016 by shenanitim


A good class last night. I added a bunch of new vocabulary words over the week, so I had a lot to learn prior to class. and I think I held up pretty well when talking. Granted, some of my answers to the questions were more freeform than my teacher might’ve wanted, but I think he understood what I was trying to say. And we touched on some concepts from weeks past which needed more cementing/updating. Clarification really.

I think my biggest (new) takeaway was the addition of another phonically shifting ending consonant. Apparently lots of consonants, when ending a syllable and followed by a syllable that starts with a ㄴ, take on the ㄴ sound. So 끝내다 sounds like “kout-nee-da” rather than the expected “kut-nee-da.” Or “왔네요” becomes “Wan-nea-yo” rather than “wat-nea-yo.”

Confusing? Sure.

But it does make pronounication easier. Cuts down on the strange, tongue-twisting sound combinations.


I even devised a new winter study schedule yesterday, while waiting in a toasty warm coffee shop. See, I’ve had another Korean textbook the entire time I’ve been using my main one. It’s actually the first one I bought, I just defer to my usual one because it was written/created by an American. So the author understands how I think (how I was taught to think), rather than the Korean style of learning.

But that doesn’t mean the (other) Korean book doesn’t have its uses! See, Koreans love including workbooks in with their language books. (All my students’ books come with workbooks attached.) This one is no different. While it was too intimidating for me at first, after as much work as I’ve put in, it’s now approachable.

It starts off with a bunch of Korean phrases, which, after the Phonics chapter I could read (sort of), but not understand. Now that I know what the majority of the words mean, I’m no longer flailing around hoping for the best. So I can learn some new concepts, review some old(er) concepts explained a different way, all while having work to do afterwards to test/use what I know.

Which is where the new schedule comes in. As it’s too cold to ride at night, and I’m currently recovering from bronchitis (which apparently means I shouldn’t be riding in 30 degree weather), I’ll just hit random Korean coffee shops and work there every night. It’ll be out of the apartment (keeping my wandering spirit happy), allow me to (over)hear native Korean in the wild, and learn something to boot!


한국어 크리스마스 잔치

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on December 9, 2016 by shenanitim


Translation: Korean Christmas party.

Last week we didn’t have a Korean class. Instead we had a holiday party celebrating a(lmost a) year of Korean classes. Granted, I might be off there, as I believe the classes were going on before I started attending. But still almost a year for me, as I started attending on… [checks past blogs] March 27th. So essentially a straight 8 months of foreign language learning.

It was also a bit of a changing of the guard, as the majority of the teachers seen here are rather new. Which I think worked out in everyone’s favor, as the party started with a round table introduction sequence. We, the foreigners, had to speak in Korean, and our teachers had to speak in English. Which took the edge off (my Korean stumbled quite a bit, and wasn’t nearly as smooth as it could’ve been had I prepared/written my ideas down before hand), as everyone was rather uncomfortable.

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(There was also a hacky sack competition. As none of the foreigners had grown up playing soccer, we were destroyed here too.)

Granted, I’m unhappy with my speech, but it did net me one compliment for my pronounciation of “왔어요.” As in, 나는 미국에서 왔어요 (I’m from the US). So I guess I did alright, just not as good as I wanted to do. Or as good as I believe I could have done.

Still light years ahead of where I was way back in March/April. Onto next year!