Archive for South Korea

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.

고구마들이 선생님들 있어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Sweet potatoes are my teachers.

I bought this book ages ago. Back when I wanted to improve my Korean, but still didn’t have the sufficient skills to capitalize on this desire. My reach was exceeding my grasp. (Something that still happens.)

I remember that first night trying to make heads or tails of this, and getting nowhere. I had no idea what this was, or that 고구마 was literally “sweet potato.” For all I knew, this was a book about school children summoning Cthulhu. Months later (and after learning both “아주” (very) and “고구마” (yam)) I glanced at the book again and everything started coming into focus. I could read it!  At least partially! Some lines I can translate, some I can interpret using contextual clues, and others leave me running to Naver translate.

Only these runs are now helpful; serving more as building blocks, rather than band-aids.

For instance, let’s take this page. I could parse together a bit of meaning (입 – wear, 면 – if, 되 – must/have to), but not enough to fully understand. Naver informed what I suspected, that 우산 was umbrella, and the others were other rainclothes (비옷 literally being “rain clothes”). But that damned ~잖다 postposition was throwing everything off.

Enter Google and its numerous blogs dedicated to learning Korean. Turns out ~잖다 is a conversational postposition used to indicate, “You know.” Not in the English “you know” sense though (as in looking for agreement (“You’re still onboard with the plan, right?”)), but as “You KNOW! I’ve told you this a 1,000 times you dumb fuck” sense.

Which is now another tool (도구) in my arsenal. Wait til I drop this one at Korean class today!

“Where did you learn that?”

“In a children’s book about horrifying, subterranean sweet potatoes!”

전 그것을 이해하고 있어요!

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: I’m getting it! (Literally, “I’m understanding that!,” which is as close as a literal translation as I can think of.)


No Lang-8 this week (or yet this week), but my Korean friends are more than willing to help in that regard.

One simple mistake on my part. I completely forgot that “to build/expolot” is 개발하다, and not 개발 (as conjugated here). So close, yet so far!

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 38

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , on March 14, 2017 by shenanitim

Time for some real talk: I’ve cheated. I went to two Korean classes last weekend, instead of just one. That’s twice the learning!  I’ve never felt so dirty.

So last week, when camped out at Hanok Village completing my weekly routine of writing sentences as best I can to later be graded, a (large) group of foreigners past me by. I didn’t pay them any mind, because as a general rule I avoid foreigners I don’t already know. As well as most of the foreigners that I do know. 

Now I’ve run into the woman who talked to me before; often at the bus station trying to get people to come to her church. As such, I’ve never paid her any mind. Until this week. As soon as she said church, I waved her off, “I’m not interested.” But then she hit me with the magic words: “We have a Korean class of Saturday, no church.” After hearing that, I figure it would be prudent to go.

And I wasn’t wrong. I’ve been mentioning here how my Korean skills are improving steadily; vastly superior now to what they were 9 months ago. My teacher was ecstatic with my ability to not only construct sentences in Korean, but also speak it. (Granted, one caveat here is that there’s a definite lessening of ability there. While I have little issue with using conjunctions in Korean, the sentence length combined with Korean’s backwardness makes it really tough to say those sentences without first writing them down. (For example: “I’m tired because I walked too much” becomes “Because I walked too much, I’m tired” in Korean.)

일요일에 팀이 교회에 갈 거 예요. (Tim will go to church on Sunday.)

What’s causing me to feel so guilty is that not a week ago, my other Korean teacher was wondering when I’d go to church. He’s a pastor, so While I did end up going to church, it just wasn’t his church. Which is probably for the best considering how uncomfortable I was. Surrounded by believers, I was mortified someone would ask me a question that would cause me to be honest

That and they kept asking when I’d come to actual Mass on Sunday. The lady teaching me knew/knows I wouldn’t, but everyone else thinks I’m as much a believer as I can reasonably pass as. So I figure I’ll go until the expectation becomes too great, and I start feeling bad. Or I’ll try the excuse told to me by a friend, which is that “I’m Catholic.” At which point they’ll all stare and take a step back.
Of note with Sunday’s Korean class is my teacher telling me that due to my penchant for writing with monkeys and other animals cast as the main characters, he feels I’m poetic. I had to inform him that “the bored monkey opened the door and the lion escaped” was nowhere near poetic. Just me trying to keep using new vocabulary so that I don’t forget it.


저는 새로운 의사와 간호사가 만나고 있어요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on March 6, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Meeting a new doctor and nurse.

Long story short, a few weeks ago I started playing soccer. I started playing soccer despite never having played soccer before in my life. (Okay, we would play a couple times every year in middle school, but no one counts that. Especially since it amounted to me walking around talking to my friends and then pretending to run after the ball if coach looked our way.) Needless to say. playing soccer requires more skill then I currently possess.

So by week two I had managed to sprain two ankles, tweak two knees, and completely shatter a toenail. (Apparently when you see professional soccer players, or even amateur ones, launch the ball, they’re using the top part of their foot. They’re NOT hitting the ball straight on with their toe.


Do it once and you’ll immediately know why. Do it twice and you’ll be limping your way through the next two games before showing your handiwork to your doctor the following Monday. Who, in turn, will send you to a different doctor so that someone else can tear the old, broken toenail off and get rid of all the dried blood from under it.

Only the foot doctor won’t tear off the old nail. He’ll instead warn you that your soccer playing days are (for now at least) over before taking out the world’s tiniest screwdriver and drilling two holes through the toenail. Then squeezing the blood out.

Seriously, it looks like I was attacked by Bunnicula while I was sleeping.

That said, the one win from this was being able to use some (understanably) broken Korean in the wild, and being understood while doing so. After the 2nd visit (and squeezing), I came to the most difficult part – figuring out how to pay my bills when I don’t speak their language, and they don’t speak mine. (Unfortunately the nurse who helped me last week was not here today.)

Turns out that after a lot of frustrating waiting (it is a hospital after all), you’ll stumble onto  the correct payment desk (I have no clue what the first lady I talked to was doing, or why she directed to sit down rather than to the payment lady who was literally sitting next to her. I mustered up all I had learned of Korean, and imparted it one glorious senten… okay, statement:

제 천구서를 내고 싶어요 (I’d like to pay my bill). Or, as I actually said it, “천구서 내고 싶어요.” Which would be a really janky way of saying the previous. Luckily for me, as my Korean teacher told me just a few days ago, my ability to speak in Korean is now capable of sounding understandable but wrong. Like a true non-native speaker bumbling their way through hundreds and thousands of years of established grammatical rules.

So I’m counting this as a win, even if I did spend way too long waiting for something to happen rather than using my (limited) skills to do it myself.


ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 37

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

“It’s working, it’s working!,” shouted in my best Dr. Frankenstein voice.

Last week my daily Forecast overflow was just under 100. This week? Sitting pretty at 80. If I can keep this up, I’ll be back at 0 by this time next year! Maybe not the greatest timeline, but moving forward 0.0001 mm is still 0.0001 mm closer to your goal. Or at least that’s how I’m selling it to me.

One note for me, and it might be helpful to any Anki fans/users out there, is that over the past couple days I’ve noticed that I’ll better if I allow myself to wake up before starting the questions. Typing it makes it sound more like a “no shit Sherlock” moment rather than anything actually helpful, but, me being me, I failed to recognize that until just now. Give your brain a chance to start running before throwing it in the dead end.


Class was set up perfectly today, in that I wrote a ton in Hanok Village in the afternoon while “prepping.” Sentences about my love for peanuts, grandmothers with purple hair, and my own inability to write Korean perfectly.

Don’t be put off by all the red though, as my teacher did note that the text above would be understandable to any Korean. It just wouldn’t be “correct/fluent.” Like when we’d meet a foreigner at home who can speak English; only broken English. So I can parse together broken Korean sentences.


NOTE: This does not include “It is very frustrating” since I used “흔들다” (to shake), rather than the correct “힘들다” (to be difficult/to frustrate). For non-Korean speakers, the first is said “hin-dill-da” while the second is “him-dill-da.” So you can see how I’d get confused


This week I practiced with a new form of “will” (V을 것 이다), saying as much in Lines 8 + 9. Learning that when using this form, “것” drops the “ㅅ” (becoming 거) if you conjugate 이다 at the end. (I.e. If you use the polite form.) Armed with that knowledge I was off to the races; writing sentences monkey-centric sentences!


Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , on March 1, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: Like Magic.

[Student looking at his book] “Teacher is #4.”

[Class agrees with this guess.]

[The CD the students are listening to plays] “#4 – the man is short and handsome.”

“You’re right M! I am short and handsome! Thank you so much!”

[A chorus of] “No, teacher, no…”

“You called it perfectly.”

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.


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.