Archive for Are You Smarter Than a South Korean Child?

특별한 늦은 토요일 밤 이야기 있네요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on December 8, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: A special, late Saturday night story!

Modernity’s a blessing and a curse. On one hand, when I wrote this Monday night, I felt rather confident. I mean, I tried to use the honorific as much as I could remember to. Then I made it home and found it torn to pieces:

But, when I showed 서영복 선생님 my tale today, she really had few corrections to add. Now I don’t know if she held her tongue because it’s a sensitive subject (my grandmother’s death), or if it’s because it IS understandable, if not in the style a native Korean would use. This is an issue I find a lot when posting on random, correction sites. Sometimes your “teacher” has a story they feel you should be telling, rather than the story you wrote down.

While it’s impossible to correct that particular feeling (especially across the internet), it does give me a good reminding head’s up for when I’m teaching my own students; mainly: don’t put words in their mouths. Allow them to speak, to spin their own tales.

I’ll post an update tomorrow after 김 목사님 takes a shot at reading my tale.


One evening Korean class later, and I’ve found I was both wrong and right. While my (other) Korean teacher found few corrections to hit me with, he also agreed that the corrections that came via HelloTalk to be “really good.” So I’m guessing mine are understandable (i.e. Tim Speak), while the ones I was given are how Koreans would talk. Look for yourself!

Also worth noting that today/yesterday’s notes also seem to have made it through the meat-grinder that I call “corrections” alright too.

[Updated 12/09/18]


모둔 친구들은 개 천국에 가요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on December 7, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: All my friends go to dog heaven.

It’s weird when you can already guess how your day is going to play out. (These knees need to heal faster!) I’ll go to Korean class, and inevitably get offered popcorn. I’ll remind them that I STILL can’t eat popcorn, because I’m still a diabetic. Despite their prayers.

This makes me fear (as my grandfather always claimed to be praying for me every night too) that everyone I know is going someplace like dog heaven. Which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but the last thing I want to spend eternity doing is sniffing asses and eating poop.

기차와 그것들이에 대해 예요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on December 3, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: About trains and things.

Ever wonder where and when your life went off the rails?

So I just got back from having 순대 with a friend, another friend wants to hang out on Saturday, and my boss asked if I could take my coworker to my doctor tomorrow to get her a flu shot. I’m booked for more social interactions this week than I had in 2014 in total.

아직 맛있어요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Still delicious!

Just in time for December, an ammonia-flavored blast from the past!

Today one of my classes are doing a unit on “hákarl,” Greenland’s rancid shark dish. Naturally I have to bring up Korea’s contender for “most foul dish ever,” 홍어 (hongeo). Given that my students seem rather normal, and thus don’t stick rotting foods in their mouths, I thought I’d show them my reaction.

As you can see, delicious!

목사님이, 오 저는 목사님에게 어떻게 그리워했습니다

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 26, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Reverend, oh how I missed you. (Note: this translation is almost certainly wrong. I’m pretty sure Korean doesn’t use this expression, but I’m too lazy to find the Korean equivalent.)

Yesterday’s class, was… a class. Started off rather slow because my teacher, the aforementioned 목사님, was running late. So the fill-in teacher decided to ask me about my weekend. Normally not a problem, as I spent most of Saturday writing about the days events. Unfortunately, this particular teacher has a penchant for asking the most mind-boggling questions.

I started off by telling everyone that I had gone to Deagu in an attempt to walk to Gumi. There’s a multitude of follow-up questions arising from that statement, and I was ready for most of them, except: “How did you get to Deagu?”

Everyone in the class knows that I don’t have a car. And that I’m not riding because my knees are shot from my Chusok misadventure. Leaving one option: Korea’s bus system. The one used by everyone, foreigner and Korean alike. All I could think was, why would you ask that?

Teacher then followed-up the follow-up with: What time did you leave Jeonju? I can’t think of any context where that information would be meaningful. The day has long since been over. It’s utterly pointless. So much so that personally I never pay attention to the time, because if we’re talking, it means I’m here right now,

(And yes, I understand it could’ve been an attempt to see how comfortable I am with telling time in Korean (read: not very), but if that was the case, there’s usually a qualifier afterward. Something like, I don’t really care, I just wanted to get you to use the time in Korean.

So utterly frustrating. Luckily 목사님 arrived soon afterward and I promptly threw all the previous teacher’s grammatical corrections out the window and started my story fresh. (Teaching pro-tipm if you’re going to “correct” a student’s writing, it!s best to actually read what they wrote, and then fond out what they were trying to say. Rather than changing everything from the get-go to say what you want it to say.

(First line is: I wrote many things this weekend. Second is I will write anything I want.)

A point I spelled out for poor, harried 선생님 in Korean so that nothing would be lost in translation!

한국어는 사랑의 언어예요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 23, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Korean is the language of love.

Okay, maybe not, but close enough. Or perhaps “learning Korean is a labor of love?” Ehh, that makes it sound negative, and I’m loving every minute, even the annoying ones! (Otherwise I’d have quit like my peers years ago.)

So here’s why, in two easy to follow examples:

Now, see here, I wanted to say without music I can’t walk. And, according to my translating app, that comes out as planned. But something seemed off. I just knew if I sent that a correction would be coming back my way. What to do?

Flip the script, of course! Here, I instead sent “if I don’t have music, I can’t walk.” Essentially the same message, but I’m positive that I’m saying it correctly here.

And that’s what is fun about learning a foreign language for me. Taking what is, by al means, a completely normal statement in English and realizing that the sentiment would probably sound strange to someone who doesn’t speak English. And translating it the translation back into your original language to find a better way to express yourself.


Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Oldies But Baddies, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Memories.

While checking out Facebook’s (horrid) “Live Through Your Past” function, I found this old one. Which, had I been actively chronicling my life over here, I certainly would’ve shared. So, enjoy!

When I left for work today, Trump was leading and I figured it was over. But I understood that some might still have hope.

On the way home from work the cashier at the convenience asked me, “미국?” (US?)

“네” (Yes)


She kept talking, yet, like some twisted Christmas Miracle, I could understand her dispite not knowing any of the words!

Granted, my Korean vocabulary [was] small, but I still managed to say, “슬픈” (Sad). Then, for added emphasis, “아주 슬픈” (Very sad).

제 작업에 대해 예요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 16, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: About work.

Lately, I’ve found I’ve been jettisoning everything most Koreans try to teach me about Korean. (At least vocabulary-wise.) Like, I can’t think of a single, useful vocabulary word my boss taught me. (Do I honestly need the Korean word for “Pope?” Protestantism is one of Korea’s top religions. So native, religious Koreans won’t understand “Pope” even if I say it in their native tongue.) Even my boss’s practice sentences seem needlessly pointless. No cyclist is ever going to say, “So I always grip my handlebars tightly.”

I’m not a four year-old ma’am. And I don’t grip the handlebars tightly unless I need to. Otherwise my wrists would be exhausted before the first lap was half done.

제 부러진 무릎이 많은 이야기들을 만들어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 11, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: My busted knees makes a lot of stories.

Doctor: “Does this hurt?”

Me: “Nope. [Doctor continues probing.] Nope. NoAAaargh…”

“So THAT hurts?”


I’m certainly not a doctor, but I believe there’s a nerve right pressing down with both hands. A quick Google search “Nerve behind” and autofill immediately gave me “the knee.” After what felt like two injections of lighter fluid, I should be good!

Nurse: “아픕니다?” (Does it hurt?)

Me: “조금 타워요.” (Burns a little.)

Nurse: “와! 한국어 잘 말합니다!”

오랜만에 늙은 친구이에요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on November 4, 2018 by shenanitim

Translation: Long time no see old friend.

Today I rode my bike for the first time in a month and a half. I’m feeling a mixture of terror and joy. Terror because last week I had a reasonably painful steroid injection into one knee (the other injection didn’t hurt), and joy because I hadn’t rode since my failed Busan-Seoul run during 추석.

I stopped at what had become in the intermittent time my morning coffee shop, to both maintain my study habit while also giving myself a rest. I’m still not confident about my knee. It didn’t hurt when I got off my bike, no stabs of pain, but the knees did feel weird. So now I’m landlocked in this coffee shop, wondering if I should turn back or continue onto the nearby burrito place. I’m not sure if the weird feeling is just the knees getting used to riding again, or if I’m tearing up all the connective tissue that had started growing again.