Archive for the Free-Range Tampa Category

팀 선생님 시가 괴수입니다

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Oldies But Baddies, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Tim Teacher is a kaiju.

File this classic under: First year teaching ESL in Korea (October 2nd, 2015).

It’s not often that I don’t have an answer in class. Today was one such day.

“Tim Teacher is tall.”

While that statement is grammatically correct, and also correct within the confines of said class, in any other situation it is completely wrong.

How do you break it to a 9 year old that while I am taller than him, I’m still not actually “tall?”

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어제 밤에 도서관에 입니다.

Posted in Free-Range Tampa on September 21, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Last night at the library.

Yesterday, after work, I met up with a friend to practice my Korean. I talked about my day (i.e. asking a student if he’d eat the dead bug he was carrying around), and we reviewed my Korean writing. Which is where I noticed a trend.

Every time I write, it’s usually in the same format. 4-5 basic sentences (Subject – Object – Verb is all I can really handle) about something that happened fairly recently. And the first 3 lines go great, a few minor subject/object marker errors, but nothing horrible.

Then we reach the last line where the verdict is always the same: “There’s nothing objectively wrong with this sentence. It says exactly what you wanted it to. Only… we don’t say that in Korean.”

Apparently self-deprecation hasn’t crossed the cultural lines yet.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 36

Posted in Free-Range Tampa with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by shenanitim

Much ado about nothing on the Anki front this week. Besides practice, practice, practice! And I honestly think that’s been paying off. I spent the week reading Korean children’s books, and I can suss out the meaning in most of the sentences. And if you squint hard enough, you can see that my Forecast overage has now finally receded below 100!

Which means not killing myself daily adding new words while also doing 200+ reviews is paying off. Even if the payoff is slow and steady rather than immediate.

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A bigger surprise came this week on the “I’m going to write for myself” front. As per an old(er) routine, sometimes I go to Hanok Village on Sunday and try my hand at writing in Korean. This week my focus was on the “because” conjunction V(으)니까, because it’s backwards to an English speaker. In Korean, you start with the 2nd clause, and finish with the 1st.

So instead of “I’m scared because the ghost killed my mom,” you say “Because the ghost killed my mom, I’m scared.” Which makes things extremely difficult (in speech, if not writing), because you have to think of your sentence in your head, translate it into Korean, and then say it backwards.

The upside to this is that once I get a handle on it, using the “if” conjunction (V면) will be just as easy, as it runs on the same basic principle.

So here’s what I came up with yesterday:


Now those corrections aren’t as bad (or as extensive) as they look. In the 1st picture the one big change is “날지” to “하지 않았어요.” Two mistakes there, one I could’ve avoided (않았어요” (past tense didn’t), as well as one I could’ve have known (“하지” rather than “날지”). It turns out that in Korean, you don’t say “I play soccer.” Instead you say something along the lines of “I did soccer,” or, I guessed, “I soccered.” Like I said, that’s something I would’ve never known had it not been pointed out to me.

The 2nd picture also isn’t real bad, as the extensive red there is listing other options for saying “because” in Korean. It’s not just (으)니까, there’s also “-서” and “-기때문에.” Though I believe, after a little discussion, that “-기때문에” is used more for past tense becauses. But those are just more options for the speaker.

The other correction, changing “저는 가쁜 나분 캍아요” to “저는 기분이 나빠요.” The first one (my original), says “I think/feel bad” if you can get past the numerous misspelt words. (I’m looking at you “나분.” Trying to say “bad” by modifying “나쁘다” without the aid of spellcheck.) The correct way to say the sentence would be by using “기준,” which is a word I learned (and associate) as “mood,” not so much “feel.” So that’s a(nother) bit of cultural-language lore for me to wrap my head around.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 34

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks! with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2017 by shenanitim

This week marked the end. I finally gave up on my mission of going an entire month adding (at least) 20 new words a day. The daily grind of constantly missing words, as well as the fear that they’d never get the marination time they need in order to be learnt, convinced me to stop. It was a noble experiment, and I don’t regret a moment of it, even if I felt guilty when I did it. (Or didn’t do it, as not making flashcards is obviously easier than making them.)

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This week in class I covered pronunciation, as my teachers were three students in the director’s English academy who obviously couldn’t help me with any grammatical questions. So I’d read a unit title out of a collection of Korean/English speaches, and they helped me fine tune whatever I said.

The big takeaway this week being that I still have trouble saying “기” (ge; as in a robe worn while practicing martial arts) correctly. I always say “지” when I see it; giving the “ㄱ” (G/K) a “ㅈ” (J) sound for some reason.

But, other than that, a pretty hoo-hum week on the language front. Which kills me as I write it, as I know I have to push both myself and my learning if I ever want to truly succeed.

I’m not bored and I’m not burnt-out, I liken this to laying low to recharge.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 33

Posted in Free-Range Tampa with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2017 by shenanitim

And just like that, out of the blue, I start posting things on Lang-8 again and in class I get a teacher! Meaning I could finally finish that damned Transportation chapter I started so many ages ago.

The last question of the chapter involved me asking for directions to get to one Seoul subway station to another. I did horribly with this. I know how to ask that question, but making sense of the reply was impossible. Everything said just becomes a blur.

I realized this while practicing the script in the book. See, the characters are talking about Seoul subway stations, famous Seoul subway stations, but they’re still locations I’m not terribly familiar with since I don’t live in Seoul. Were we talking about taking buses to get to Gaeksa, or Hyojadong, I’d have been all over it. I know those places. But what I’ve found makes learning places and names so difficult in a foreign language is that since the names are completely unfamiliar to you, and much of the vocabulary you’re hearing is new also, your ears end up lumping everything together.

Think about it: were you to remove Gangnam’s (K)pop song status from it, no one would know that it is a place, while Yushik (one of the book’s characters) is a person.

Either way the chapter was a bit of a wash, since a.) Jeonju doesn’t have a subway station, b.) I hardly ever relied on others for directions in the States, and c.) everyone (including me!) has some form of GPS with them if they do need a map.

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On the Anki front, everything stayed more or less the same. I continued adding new words daily, I’ve continued having to have two review sessions to get the counter down to zero every day, and my Learning percentage of words gotten correct continues to freefall. But, if you look at the pie graph at the bottom of the data, you can now see that the Learning Portion has been steadily growing for some time now.

Which makes me feel like I’m not spinning my wheels quite as much, even if missing a ton of cards daily is disheartening.

고이 잠드소서

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , on February 3, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Rest in Peace.

A couple weeks ago I laid to rest the greatest pair of shoes I’ve ever had. They worked retail with me, summer camps, traveled across the world multiple times – they’d done everything.


No tread left on them, every step ended up being painful. Yet I still held onto them even after I had bought their replacement.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 31

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2017 by shenanitim

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원숭이가 자동차안에 있어요.

Translation: The monkey is in the car.

In case you couldn’t tell, this week was dominated by vocabulary. I wrote last week about my fear of overloading myself with new vocabulary; a fear that played a large role in how I learned words for a long time. Last week I threw off the shackles though, and just started adding ~20 words a day, everyday. Some days less, some days more, eventually ending up with around 190 new words in 9 days.

Not including today, which will probably tack on another 20 or so.

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As you can see from the Added graph on the right, I continued adding words even tonight – the new ones from class, along with more. Cuz you can’t ever have enough new vocabulary apparently.

Another bit I’ve been doing all week is writing (one of) my teachers every day with a new Korean sentence. This isn’t new per se, as that’s what I had been using Lang-8.com for too. The difference here, though, is that I’m then adding this sentence (or the corrected one) to my Anki deck too.

I’ve been pretty consistant with adding the Korean expressions found in my book, but that ends up being more rote memorization, as I don’t really care about those sentences. I’ll never use 99% of them. Which isn’t terrible (I mean, when am I going to need my own  expression, “The monkey tells me what to do.”?), but by using my own work, I’m forcing myself to a.) remember how I said the sentence the first time, and b.) make the needed corrections. Again and again and again. Until the corrections (and grammatical content) stick.

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The last one here (저는 한 주가 새로운 어휘로 바빠요) took me forever to wrap my head around. But it has a little sprinkling of everything I’ve been practicing so far, so all the cursing at myself should eventually be worth it.

Another big change this week came in the Review Count and Time graphs. As I’ve mentioned before, I hadn’t been able to make a dent in my overflow pile.

Anki’s starting deck limit is 100 review words a day, along with 20 new words. So each day I was ending up with 50-100 untouched words, which would just end up compounding. So Thursday I decided to manually override the upper limit, and do all the cards. (Which is the huge spike in the graph.) Now I’ve been doing extra each day in the hopes that I’ll eventually spread the words out amongst the Interval graph and thus allowing me to clear out a day without any overrides.

Granted, in order to accomplish that, I’d probably also have to stop adding new vocabulary constantly. So I’m at a detente right now. I don’t want an overflow pile, but I also don’t want to give up adding new words each day. We’ll see which side (eventually) wins out.

죄 송 합니다

Posted in Free-Range Tampa, Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2017 by shenanitim

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Translation: I’m sorry.

“Store, store” the woman said, pointing to an electronic cigarette advertisement.

The confused look on my face, definitely not caused by the lingering mountain climbing-induced hypoglycemia, activated the peanut gallery hanging around the cash register to join in. “Store, store” they all repeated as I left the store confused, but with my prize in-hand.

Then, as I stared at my newly bought beautiful green bottle of melon milk, it hit me. Straw, not store. The cashier was trying to get me to take a straw to drink it. While I’m not blaming my confusion on the hypoglycemia, maybe it is this hypoglycemia that caused her to make it a point of giving me a straw. Or at least trying to.

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Unfortunately, I don’t know how to say “I’m sorry, I’m barely fluent in English too. Especially when my brain’s reeling” in Korean.

Maybe I should ask teacher for a translation on Sunday.

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(Note: this is an old post that has been sitting on my desk for the past year. Written, as you can guess, after a close to disasterous mountain climbing trip. It was written on a Shen Yun flier, which is why the picture’s above, which I love due to its design.

I failed to ask my teacher how to say “I’m sorry, I’m barely fluent in English too. Especially when my brain’s reeling” that Sunday.)

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 30

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

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.)

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