Crazy week. So two weeks ago my usual teacher wasn’t at class. In fact, no one was but me and the program’s director. So I was given a crash course in placement prepositions. (This week’s title (를넘어; beyond) continues to be vexing for me. Doubly so since I’m not too sure how useful it will be to learn it, as I can’t remember the last time I used “beyond” in English.
The kicker to last week was at dinner, when the director was made note of my diligence in taking these classes and studying the material. He asked when I finished with work (usually around 8PM), and noted that his own academy finishes at 8. He added that he’s usually there until 11, and that I could come by anytime for additional class time.
My own schedule made me unable to take him up on the offer until (까지) Wednesday and Thursday, but that’s when the fun started. The floodgates opened, and the vocabulary was unleashed! Colors, nouns, everything was on these two additional pages. (One per night.)
Then, over the weekend, I started reading Gabriel Wyner’s “Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It.” While I could care less about learning Korean in a speedy fashion, some of Wyner’s other ideas struck me as useful. One concerns how we learn words. When we’re children we see an object, and then are told its name. Pretty basic 1 + 1 relationship.
The issue is when learning an additional language. Most people focus on learning the new words first, and then switching it to their fluent language to make the identification. For example let’s use my favorite – apples (or 사과 in Korean). Now when I first learned 사과, I would see it or hear it, and think “apple” in my head. What Wyner proposes we should do is see the apple, and learn 사과 to identify it. This way we’re back to our original language learning state, where picture = word (in this case “new word”) just like we have in our fluent language.
So the work this week is relearning how I learn. For vocabulary, the best tool to use is Anki. Anki is an electronic flashcard program where I’m now erasing all the Korean from the front card, and replacing it with images. The cards’ backs will be nothing but their Korean names, with no English in sight. As such, my brain won’t see an apple, think “apple” [rumble, rumble as brain starts translating] and finally say “사과.” Here I’ll see an apple and immeditately think 사과. Cutting out the translation middle-man.
Cognitively it makes sense. It’s a brilliant idea if it works. Unfortunately it made a huge workload for me, as now I’m remaking all these Anki cards. An added bonus is I’m quickly becoming proficient with typing in Korean.
(For the record, my regular teacher didn’t seem too happy with the vocab data dump that had occurred. I promised to only focus on words that’re actually useful to know – apple, subjects (I, You, He/She/It, etc.), words that see use in everyday life. So poor 를 넘어 is officially falling to the wayside.
For homework she tasked me with becoming more immersion into Korean culure. So while I’m at home I’m to be listening to Korean talk radio, and with reading Korean books. Luckily, being the super nerd that I am, I already had Korean books ready!
We also agreed that musicals are great, with Annie being the best.