ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 43

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2017 by shenanitim


A test, a test! I took a Korean test! And I lived to tell the tale…

This week’s class kicked off with a line I always dread hearing: “Tim, I have something to ask you. Come over here.” This alone causes an instinctual level of dread to arise. I mean, I was asked this by the lady who invites me to service every week (which I decline). Had my non-church-going ways finally caught up with me?

Tim, we’ve noticed that you never come to church, and you’ve told many of us that you don’t believe. Yet every week you’re here using our free services. What’s up?” was running through my mind as the only possible outcome. Luckily, it was instead the seemingly benign, “Would you mind if you had a different teacher this week?”


Turns out word of my (alleged) Korean ability has spread even to the bigger movers and shakers at the church, so now one of the top ones wanted to see for herself.

It turns out I’m smarter than an acorn.

Actually, it turns out my daily use of Anki for almost a year now has paid off generously. The general agreement was that my vocabulary is great: quite expansive for someone who started studying a year ago. My spoken Korean is thus where all the work needs to go.

Unfortunately this turned into doing reading drills. I’d read a sentence in Korean, translate it, then answer it in triplicate. Once using the present tense, once in the past tense, and finally in the future tense. Though this really wasn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be, since, me being me, my answers did their best to expand upon the questions.


I mean, what’s the use of being complimented on your vocabulary if you’re not going to use it?

Picking up on their lead, my teacher on Sunday kept pushing in this direction by having semi-conversations with me. Asking me questions that I could understand, so that I could create answers for them. Which doesn’t sound like much when I write it down, but, in the moment, it’s everything. Considering a little more than a year ago I was sounding out the alphabet and memorizing introductory sentences (“네 이름은 팀 입니다”) and now I can construct those sentences off the top of my head is crazy.


On an Anki-based aside, I’ve stopped doing my quizzes in the morning. I started to fear that my still groggy brain might be hindering the learning process. So instead I take it during the downtime I have after completing my classes’ lesson plans. And continue during the (mini) breaks I get between classes (~5 minutes).

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 42

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2017 by shenanitim

“So I’ve been told that you know a lot of Korean.”

I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, lady, but whoever it is has clearly been playing a cruel joke on you. And possibly me by extension.

“조금 (a little),” I replied, clearly hoping that by speaking in short, incomplete sentences I could convince her otherwise. Unfortunately, she followed this up by asking me what I have been working on. And here’s where the wheels behind the “I’m actually the dumbest person here; honest!” illusion began to fall off. As stated last week, a new theme in my studies has been formulating basic sentences in my head, and then not translating them onto paper. This way I have to say them in Korean first. This works in two aspects: it gets me speaking more, and also prevents me from trying to create overly complicated sentences. Which, for the longest time running, has been my biggest weakness.

Sadly I don’t think this illusion took, however. My opening sentence was “이번주에 제 여동새가 말했어요.” (This week I talked to to my sister.” Granted, it was wrong, but only barely so. See, I said “talked to” which comes from 말하다 (to talk). But in Korean you’d use 전화를 컬다 – literally “phone call.” And while I guess you could say, “This week I called my sister in the phone,” in English that sounds a little too formal. Well, sure your majesty, and I’m absolutely positive you spread your butter on your toast divinely too! No one talks that way.

So I chaulk this up as a lost in translation error, where the meaning is still correct, but the local flair was missing. Like when Northerners visit FL and call soda “pop.”

But the damage had already been done. Once you’ve let the “my study plan is to try to think in Korean” cat out of the bag, there’s no convincing your teacher that you’re still secretly a dummie.

One thing I must applaud my teacher for is her ability to hone in on a skill (“I think we should work on ____________ today”), and then sticking with it. I had a momentary slip up using the present progressive (V-고 있다), which she caught onto and immediately started giving me more sentences to translate.

“Spring is warm.”

“봄에 따뜻해요.”

“봄 따뜻해요. Use the subject market as you’re talking about Spring specifically. ‘Spring is getting warmer.”

“봄이 따뜻하고 있어요.”

“봄이 따뜻고 있어요. ‘하’ becomes ‘해’ here because you always conjugate 하다 differently from everything else.”

While it seems basic on the surface, these exercises work on numerous levels. First, on my basic speech level, as well as my confidence in my speech level. But also by indirectly highlighting the fact that in Korean, “getting” is here included as part of the present progressive. This will stop me from trying to shoehorn “to get” (받다) into all of my compositions. So it’s practice and a clarification all rolled into one.


이번주: 자전거 가게를에 예요.

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan on April 14, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: This week: At the bike shop.

월요일에 동물원에서 제 자전거의 타이어가 펑크났어요. (On Monday, my tire went flat at the zoo.)

게다가 화요일에 제 자전거의 앞타이어가 또한 펑크났어요. (Then, on Tuesday, my front tire also was flat.)

Bad luck aside, I was able to formulate these sentences (nearly perfectly) in my mind, and my conversations with the (two) cab drivers involved, as well as the bike mechanic(s) were all done in pure Korean. Bonus points for being quite specific with the cabbie: Take me to the zoo, please. [as we approached] Please stop at this rest room (that’s where the bike was locked up).

ShenaniTims vs. Anki: Round 41

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on April 11, 2017 by shenanitim

I decided to do something completely different this week. Usually I spend my Sundays at Hanok Village trying to write comprehensible sentences in Korean. With varying degrees of success; some weeks I do great, some… not so much. Regardless, each week I try my hardest no matter what. 

Enter this week. There was no Saturday class (we took a field trip to Gunsan and Semangeum (새만금)), so I didn’t have any tangents to expand upon and/or practice. And given the storm clouds I saw upon arriving at Hanok Village, climbing a mountain to write, only to have to run back down it minutes later wasn’t high on my list. So no (new) writing. Until the ride home.

Now normally during my rides home I’ll get a burst of inspiration. Often simpler sentences (as I’m creating them in my head as I ride, I can only focus on the things I really know. So this week, instead of writing these sentences down while waiting at traffic lights, I instead just wrote down their English equivalents. With a note expressly telling me not to write them. No writing, at least, until I had spoken them to my teacher. This way the sentences are still getting corrected, I’m still writing them down (after the fact), only now I’ve managed to shoehorn some speaking practice in as well.

Perhaps my smartest study move lately, if not ever.

The biggest Anki news is my Mature card counts. Remember how excited I was back when one or two days a week had 20-25 Mature cards? Well now things have come full circle, with only a handful of games per month having less than 20-25 per day. Words can’t describe how excited I am over this, even if it’s completely inexplicable. Hell, I don’t even know why I’m so jazzed about it. I just am. Perhaps it’s related to the fact that my Mature cards correct percentage is usually where I’m most successful.


한국에 일하고 있어요

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

Translation: Working in Korea.

One thing I love about Korea is their consideration. For everything. Seriously, for a country (in)famous for its isolation (and believe me, spend any amount of time on a board about Seoul and you’ll get an earful), out where I’m at, they couldn’t be more considerate.

Earlier this week, my boss let the third teacher at our academy go. They won’t be hiring a replacement. Instead, I’ll be working a little overtime picking up the remainder of the departing teacher’s load. (I had taken over the lion’s share of his workload two weeks ago, leaving him with a grand total of six kids split over three classes. And he couldn’t handle it. Seriously.) But first, my boss wanted to make sure I’d be alright working seven hours a day. Seven. My average day in retail was longer than that; by a large margin. I laughed and told her of course, since I’m used to working eight hour days, minimum.

She asked again though, to make sure I’d be okay with my condition. My diabetes. She was worried about my health! I don’t think my last boss at Target even knew I was a diabetic, and we worked in the same department for around three years. There was it was inconsequential. Something for me to handle (out of sight, out of mind), and for them to ignore.

“But ShenaniTims,” you shout into my mind, “of course she’s worried about your health! She’s your sponsor in the country. If something happens to you, it could potentially make her look bad.” Yes, that’s true. And please quit screaming in my mind.

My rebuttal, however, is my Korean classes. Today, the church announced that next week we’d be going on a picnic. As they were asking around, trying to get a headcount, I came up. Would I be going? Of course, I wouldn’t miss it. Would I be okay, with my condition? Would the exercise be too much?

Now again, this is (one of) my Korean class(es). They owe me nothing. I’m taking up their time, and unlike all the other students there, I don’t attend the Sunday services I’m constantly being in invited to. Yet they still want me to come along, and be safe while doing so. Here, it’s not just my issue, it’s a communal issue.

Back at Target, a company that prides itself on its diversity, I once had to sit through an hour-long presentation on respecting others. Including taking into account any special conditions your co-workers (“Team Members” in Target talk) may have. Mind you, I’ve been a diabetic almost all my life. (Diagnosed as Type-1 at age four.)

So while they’ll telling us that we have to be mindful of others, I’m sitting in a meeting room full of ho-hos, chips, and whatever else it is fat American fucks eat. So I laughed, and they were shocked. Was I disagreeing with corporate? Is such a thing possible? I told them that it was a nice aentiment, but that anyone suffering from a disease has come to terms with it. And realized we live in your world; you don’t live in ours. I pointed out that there were no snacks I could eat there, if I was inclined to. And added that I didn’t want to see shitty “healthy” snacks next week; so that I could watch everyone suffer through carrot sticks while shooting me eye daggers. No thank you.

But here, they genuinely seem concerned with how I deal with it. It’s slightly jarring.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 41

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

Perhaps my best weekend yet, or at least in recent memory. Saturday’s lesson centered around getting me reacquainted with the basics. Not in a “shatter your ego, we’re going back to learning the alphabet” basics, but in a ” You write so much better when you stick to simple sentences. Let’s focus on your strengths, and advance naturally from there.

In short, my teacher would dictate what type of sentence we’d focus on (want to, I like/I don’t like) and I’d fill in the blanks. All while attempting to keep it as simple as possible.

A tactic that worked extremely well. Not only was I honing my skills using Korean, but my teacher also had me say my answers before I wrote them down. Difficult? Yes, extremely so at points. But also very much needed if I ever want to improve my Listening skills.

Working like this not only gave a much needed boost to my ego (especially after last week), but also gave me a great excuse to dig deep and try to use those old vocabulary words that can be so easy to forget. (I’m looking at you 요리 (duck) and 독일 (Germany)). So it was good on two, different levels, and it also shored up my skills for Sunday’s class.

First things first, my teacher seemed to be in a much better mood. Though that might’ve been because when he opened my writing notebook he saw a page of Korean that was already picked through. “You wrote this?,” he asked, genuinely bewildered. I then explained how I had had to generate the answers in my head, then write them out.

This language-edition of Occam’s Razor has seemingly helped revitalize my class. Once, by showing my teacher that if we set the bar low enough, I can start making (semi-) coherent sentences. Then again by reminding myself that yes, these sentences are within my grasp.

We also worked a lot on making verbs into nouns; which is done but conjugating with a -기 and then treating it as an object.


“히든 피겨스” 영화를 비평해요 (“Hidden Figures” Review for All You Yanks)

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on March 30, 2017 by shenanitim

오늘 저는 영화 “히든 피겨스를” 봐요 결정했어요. (Today I decided to see the movie “Hidden Figures.”)

저는 캐빈 코스트너 팬이 아니예요. (I’m not a Kevin Costner fan. FUN FACT!: In Korean, “Costner” translates to “Costnah.”)

저는 이영화가 좋기를 바래요. (I hope the movie is good.)

“히든 피겨스는” 내가 생각했던 것 보다 더 좋았다. (“Hidden Figures” was better than I thought.)

그것은 내가 잠에서 깨어난 후에 더 좋았다. (It was better after I woke up.)

저는 인종차별 대한 영화를 좋아해요. (I like movies about racism.)

게다가 영화가 못 같은 드라마를 있었어요. (Also, the movie wasn’t a mushy drama.)

게다가  그 영화 음악은 아주 좋았어요. (In addition, the movie’s music was very good.)

만약 그 여인들 위대한 것들을 이룰 수 있다면 나는 한국말을 배울 수 있다. (If these women can achieve great things, then I can learn Korean.)

영화를 본 후에 나는 Ray Charles의 앨범을 사기로 결정했다. (After watching the film, I decided to buy a Ray Charles album.)

(Full disclosure: I’m a huge Janelle Monae fan. So huge, in fact, that I failed to realize she was one of the film’s star until a day after watching it. I kept thinking how much the one actress looked like her, but I never put two-and-two together. Until I translated her name on the mini-poster. (자넬 모네!))

Like I said, this week’s corrections weren’t a joke. Two steps forward, one step back.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 40

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by shenanitim

하나 년 (a year)! I’ve been studying Korean for one full year this week! (이번주 저는 1년동안 한국어를 공부합니다!)


A whole year, roughly 51 weeks (there was no class the week of Christmas because no one was in country). To celebrate, I brought everyone some 달기 (strawberries) and went right back to work. Cuz, you know, there’s learning to do.

This week’s lesson, like most recent lessons, focused on using what I’ve already learned; fine-tuning those pesky semtences. And generally failing at it. I felt bad, cuz I feel that my teacher was bored of correcting my (seemingly) endless amount of grammatical mistakes, but, dammit, that’s what I want to learn! (Actually, it seems like it was a frustrating class for everyone. Since one of my more language proficient friends was also struggling composing the same sorts of sentences I was getting tripped up on.)

The big takeaway here was that when a sentence utilizes two verbs (The man went to the store to buy some apples), you start with your subject (of course), but the final verb should be the one closest to said subject (here: went). So the above (and I’m guessing here) would be “남자가 가게에 사과를향해 사고 갔어요.” Literally, in English, “Man store to apples to buy went.” This takes a pretty big weight off my shoulders, as one question I’d always run into was “Crap, I have two verbs. Which one is the most important, i.e. which one ends the sentence?” My teacher’s frustration aside, I did learn something (something important even!), even if you really couldn’t tell because everything we reviewed was written before I had learned said lesson.

My homework(!!!) is to start reading more Korean books. I explained that I occasionally try to, but it’s difficult because of the vocabulary gap, even with basic books. Vocabulary gap and grammar gap. I’ll be going along fine, but eventually run into too many things I don’t know. Then I’ll have spent 10+ minutes translating a single page that a 5 year-old Korean could’ve stormed through. Which is frustrating to say the least. But I guess I really should start sticking it through, as no one said this would be easy. And if it was, then it probably wouldn’t be as rewarding. My teacher suggested Korean kid cartoons, as they’ll move so that I’ll be able to figure some words out through context while still seeing how the sentences are constructed.


As for as Anki goes, continued daily quizes, with some new words slowly being added. While I don’t want to flood myself with new content (at 20 words a day I feel I don’t focus enough on the new stuff), I’m considering changing Anki’s set-up so that the new word maximum is 10. This will stagger the new vocabulary, while giving my brain sufficient time to use what it has already learned.

“대한민국이 낚였다” 영화를 비평해요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by shenanitim

어제 영화의 이름은 “비정규직 특수요원” 이에요. 그것은 코믹 영화 예요. 배우들이 모두 한국어를 만 얘기했어요. 그것은 이해하기에 어려웠지만 나는 최선을 다했어요. 그 영화는 정말로 재미가 없었지만 나는 한국어를 연습하러 갔어요.

Translation: Yesterday’s movie’s name was “Special Agent.” It’s a comedy. The actors all speak Korean. It was hard to understand, but I tried my best. The movie really wasn’t funny, but I went to practice Korean.

영화관의 진원이 아주 친절했어요. 내가 영화관안으로 들어가고 있을때 그가 나를 멈춨어 갔고 있어요. “너의 영화는 한국어 예우고!,” 그가 말했어요. “괜찮아요라고,” 전 그에게 말했어요. 제 한국어는 연습을 필요로해요.

Translation: The movie theater worker was very nice. He stopped me when I was walking into the theater. “Your movie is Korean,” he said. “It’s okay,” I said to him. My Korean needs the practice.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 39

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2017 by shenanitim

Another week, another set of Korean classes. Saturday’s class was good and bad, in that the first half (with the same teacher from last week) was fantastic, and the second half was more deconstructing instruction.

Now as previously mentioned, you can see that I was writing in Korean rather ably before the teacher switch occurred. In fact, if you look, one crossed out section, you’ll see I was using the past tense. Which is why I then started scratching my head when the new teacher suddenly wanted to start talking about the differences between present and past tense.

What followed next was just as perplexing, as here he started saying lines in English and then translating them himself. After a lengthy section about how he “want[s] to meet [me] and [my] mother,” he then started teaching subjects. As in, what is a subject? Again, something I learned nearly one year ago at this point.

Here we have a breakdown of the family (아버지 (father), 어머니 (mother), 오빠 (older brother), 누나 (older sister), 남동생 (younger brother), 여동생 (younger sister). As you might’ve guessed, I typed those from memory having known them awhile. Then things get weird, as he started explaining the Chinese origins to 자전거 (bicycle). I explained the etymology of English’s “bicycle” cuz this class was well off the rails at this point. Sunday’s teacher was like, “Why didn’t you redirect him here?” All I can say is this guy was just too far gone for that.

Perhaps most frustrating for me was the writing. Compare his giant scrawl versus mine. It frustrated me so much that I ended up going back and writing in the abundant dead space to make some use of it. Lemonade out of lemons as it was.

After class I went (back) to the movies and wrote while waiting for the movie to start. As you can see from the cross-outs and red marks, I was about 80% on point. I learned that while woman IS “그녀,” man is certainly NOT “그년.” (It’s apparently a bad word directed at women.) This despite 소녀  being “girl,” and 소년 being “boy.”

My last writing’s corrections are more labor intensive, though also more complicated. So I’m not disappointed, or even shocked really. I was reaching there, as I had already written enough “safe” things. It was time to stretch and experiment.


As far as Anki goes, I started spending a lot of time with new vocabulary this week. I’m trying not to become as hung up in following arbitrary, self-imposed rules though. A couple new words whenever I run into them seems to be a good general rule of thumb. Allowing me to learn without becoming overloaded.