Archive for Using Anki to Learn Korean

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!)

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

HOLY SHIT, 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

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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!

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 35

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by shenanitim

What to say? Besides some things changed as of three days ago. So I had been clearing out all the review words everyday, spending on average 60 minutes with Korean vs. ~20. And I felt pretty good about it.

And then last weekend happened. Super busy, and I honestly didn’t have the time or energy to finish off all the words. I still did my daily allotment of 100 (plus any new ones), but no additional. And honestly, nothing seems to have changed.

Take last night for instance. I ended up with around 100+ cards leftover once I completed my daily load. Woke up this morning, and there’s still 100+ cards leftover rather than 200+ (as I feared). So my theory is that by taxing my mind to do 200+ cards daily, I was missing more than I normally would have. A missed card’s counter gets reset to 0; meaning it’ll show up in the next day’s allotment. Meaning that by trying so hard to get everything done quickly, I was ultimately making more work for myself.

I think that now that my nearly month long run of 20 new cards a day is over, those cards have been filtered into the normal Interval schedule. (Some show up sooner, some show up later, and some are (still) showing up nearly daily.) Which means if I can keep my wits about me, and break this (now) two day schedule of 100+ cards, I’ll then be able to wittle down those pesky remainders.

That’s the hope at least.

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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.

ShenaniTims Vs. Anki: Round 32

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , , on January 29, 2017 by shenanitim

Anki declared the winner?

Okay, I might be making declarations a bit too early. So as mentioned for the past two weeks, I’ve been adding a lot of new vocabulary words into my Anki decks daily. (Generally at least 20/day.) And it hasn’t bothered me much, until this morning when I felt that my grasp on the older cards might be slipping when I get caught up in the frustration of struggling with the new terms.

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Then I sit back for a moment and let the rational, rather than the emotion, side of my intellect take control and rationalize it all away.

During the first round of reviews today (the normal 100 review cards and 20 new), I reviewed 193 cards in total, over a course of 36 minutes. That’s not a lot of time spent learning. In fact, while the 193 might be on the high side (I did particularly bad with New/Learning cards), time-wise it falls in line with my normal averages. So the increase in total cards reviewed can be justified for being what they are – many words which I saw once two days ago and completely forgot about in the interim. Which is how things should play out.

You’ll remember some, forget many others. You review those, and some (more) of those will stick. On and on it goes until they’re either permenantly lodged in your brain or marked as Leeches and jettisoned. (Or I go a whole month of adding a ton of cards daily; that’s my new short-term goal. Reach that and then look back on any possible damage done.)

Speaking of leeches, I lost a cards this week to that category, but this week also distinguished itself as being the week where I went through the 70-80 leech cards and put them back in circulation. Which is why my review counts have been so high over the past few days. I dumped a motherlode of old cards into the deck in the hopes that time heal(ed) all wounds.

It doesn’t appear to have done so.

I’d like to blame this infusion of old troublemakers to be the reason my accuracy was so piss poor today (70%).

Not much to report on the class front, as its the Lunar New Year over here in Korea, so many of the teachers were on vacation. I had another (higher level) student with me, so our teacher spent a lot of time talking and then seeing what I could pick out. Which means not a lot to show for it as far as notes go, but a lot to show in listening comprehension. Hell, the head guy said he’s think I’m making good progress.

And that’s all I need to hear!

저는 매 일에 설사를 생각해요

Posted in Hogwan Hijinks!, Tales From the Hogwan with tags , , , , on January 23, 2017 by shenanitim

Translation: I think about diarrhea every day.

Yesterday I wrote about how I’ve been loading my Anki deck up with new vocabulary everyday. As of today, I can officially stop.

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설사 (diarrhea) – the holy land of Korean vocabulary. Between this and the monkeys from yesterday, I really can’t think of a conversation that I wouldn’t be able to fudge my way through.

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Consider Korea conquered.