Tag Archives: Featured

Am I using the Same Words a lot when I talk?! | {Foreign Language Tip}

Yes. Yes you are using them a lot. And no, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re recognizing that you use the same words frequently. You hear the same words frequently. You’re reading the same words frequently. And I want you to take a minute and think about all the words you use in English. If you think about it, you’re using the same words a lot in English too. Which means one thing for your Korean language journey…

It’s starting to “click.”

It’s not that you just keep repeating the same things over and over again to people. It’s just that as you began to speak more you’ll notice that your speech pattern has kinda moved over into your new language. You should sound a lot like yourself. So if you say, “uh” a lot in English or if you say “like” before you began a descriptive sentence or if you start a question with “So…?” in English, you may find that you’re starting to do that in Korean now too the more comfortable you get with the language. In the beginning it’s good to mimic a native speaker. But after a while, it’s time to start putting yourself more into what you say. We’ll circle back to that.

What do I mean by, “using the same words a lot?”

For example:

  • I’m going to do…
  • I went to the…
  • She and I did that yesterday.
  • He/she/I sat…
  • Do you have…
  • Is there any…
  • Do you want to…
  • Are you…
  • How much is…
  • Where is…
  • Going
  • Doing
  • I want to…
  • I don’t like…

The list could go on and on but basically, it’s the same things over and over again. However, it’s the same thing you do in conversation in English. If you pay attention to how you speak in English, you’ll notice that you say the same things a lot to people in conversation. That’s not to say you just keep saying the same sentences over and over again but you pull from a mental vocabulary bank of maybe about 3,000-5,000 words and you use these same words repeatedly*. However, you’ll end up using more of these words in English than in Korean because one of the main differences between Korean and English, when it comes to conversation, is that English exaggerates sentences. Meaning, we say more in English than we do in Korean. We go into excessive detail to describe things in English. But, you do know these same (or similar) adjectives that can be used to describe things in Korean, you just might not use them as often.

Example:

  • English: The car was so big.
  • Korean: The car was big (or large).

You don’t need “so” to describe how big the car was when speaking in Korean because the word for “big” is emphasized in speech.

Of course, we know more words than that but on a regular basis we don’t typically go outside of this word bank. And again, even in that example you’ll notice words that you say, hear or read a lot. “The”, “car”, “was”, “big”, “large”, “so.” And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually a really good sign.

Now, back to what I said about “putting yourself more into your speech.”

Have you ever met someone who seemed like they were trying to be someone other than themselves? It’s not a very comfortable situation to be in. When you’re learning Korean, it’s good in the beginning to find someone to mimic so you can work your pronunciation but then once you’ve figured out how to pronounce words, it’s time to incorporate your own personality and mannerisms into your speech. You can’t use someone else forever. That’s how Korean can become difficult because you’re trying to sound and speak like someone else. So you want to start sounding like yourself more.

That’s it for now. More tips coming soon!

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*The average adult knows well over 45,000 words but may never use more than 10,000-20,000 of them. Of course this number varies by person but this is the general number.

Foreign Language Tip | Reading a Passage in Korean [TTMK Video]

So I remember a while back I was talking about practicing your reading skills in Korean. I wasn’t able to fully demonstrate it in the post because I didn’t know how to properly explain it.

And then I found this video…

This is exactly how you practice learning to read in Korean. When you hear people say to buy children’s books in Korean, they mean reading it like the video below. Break down the sentences and then put it all back together in the beginning. Yes it’s a bit of translation but you want to be able to start reading to comprehend and the best way to do that is to break down the sentences or in this case break down the passage.

Another thing you can do is read webtoons. I downloaded both the English and Korean webtoon app that way I can use the Korean one to practice reading and the English version to make sure I’m on the right track and I know for sure what words I need to review.

Or, if you like watching K-dramas, you can do the same with them. If there are Korean subs available for the drama that you’re watching, you can break down the sentences there too and then switch to the English subs if you need check your accuracy.

It takes practice but you guys can definitely do it!

(one day it will just click…)

“One day it will just click…” | Foreign Language Tip

How many times have you heard this, “one day it just clicked and I could understand the language”, and wondered if there was such a thing? Or maybe you’ve been told, “One day it will just click…” What is this “click” and what does that even mean???

Well, this mystical, mysterious, majestic click… is not the type of click you’re thinking.

Let me explain.

When I first starting learning Korean about four years ago, I always imagined that one day I would just wake up and I would be speaking Korean fluently. That this “click” would happen while I was watching a k-drama or listening to some music or talking with some friends. Anything!

That “click” never came.

What did happen was something very different. I began to realize that the “click” was understanding the basics to learning any language. Which is something you’ve probably heard before too but I’ll explain it. Basically it means that you begin to understand the “how” of doing it. Kinda like the moment you learned how to read or write or to do math or any subject in school. Or maybe when you figured out the answer to a riddle without any help. It’s that “a-ha” moment. That’s the “click.”

The “how” is learning the basics – grammar, sentence structure, rules – and then learning vocabulary and putting it all together in practice. I know you’re tired of hearing that but that’s literally it. There’s nothing special to do other than that. Once you learn the basics, unless you plan on teaching Korean, there’s really no reason to learn advanced grammar principles. Same with English, unless you plan on teaching English there’s really no reason to know any of the advanced material once you graduate. Think of this way, how much of the advanced grammar principles do use on a regular basis in English?

Knowing the basics is enough. Learning vocabulary is so much more important after you understand how to put sentences together.  Spelling doesn’t really matter in the beginning stages because it’s not like you’re going to be doing a whole lot of writing. The most important thing is learning the vocabulary and knowing how to pronounce it properly.

So here’s when this”click” happened for me.

It was when someone finally explained “thinking” in Korean. It’s something I had been doing for a while but never really thought too much about it. How do you “think” in another language? Sure, we have our inner voice that we “hear” in our native tongue but how do we switch that to another language?

Knowing vocabulary and basic grammar.

For example, when you think of something, like say a book, instead of mentally saying “I want that book”, you change that sentence to Korean and say “그 책을 싶어.” And you do this with other things like, “I want to drink coffee.” (커피를 마시고 싶다.) [read: I need coffee. Like now.]

So let’s say, by now, you’ve poured all this time, money and energy into grammar books, textbooks, classes, self-help books, other people’s stories on “how they did it” and their “fail-proof way for how you can too” and you still don’t get it. You still can’t speak it fluently so how are you honestly supposed to “think” in Korean fluently?

Ways to Practice: (when you’re doing this on your own)

  • You see a cell-phone. Don’t just say “that’s a cellphone” switch it to “그거 핸드폰이야” in your mind when you see it.
    • I know. I know. It sounds crazy! It sounds absolutely insane. But as you’re reading this right now, you’re already doing it. Just in English. 
  • Translate things for yourself. If you go to the grocery store, make your grocery list in Korean. And yes you absolutely can use a reference guide as you make your list.
    • Example:
      • Milk
      • Eggs
      • Apples
      • Toothpaste
      • Bread
    • Your list can look like this:
      • 우유 – for cereal
      • 계란
      • 사과
      • 치약 – for teeth
    • Make notes, like the ones I added, for words that you’re not really sure you remember 100%. And on the back of your list you can have it written in English just so you’re not forgetting anything important and have to make another trip.
  • If you watch a movie and hear a common phrase in English, think of how you would say that in Korean.
  • Challenge yourself.
    • Full immersion watching movies and shows and just listen. You don’t have to understand everything but trust me something is sticking. And plus, you’re only listening for vocabulary words and phrases anyway.

You’ll know when you’ve advanced to a point where you can start watching shows without subs. Going without subtitles isn’t helpful for everybody so don’t feel left behind if you’re three years in and you still need subtitles. (Because sometimes they just talk really fast and now you’re lost and confused on what’s happening.) The important part is listening. As long as you’re listening to how they say different words and phrases and picking up on the vocabulary, that’s all that really matters. If you can associate what you hear with what you’re reading then you’re learning something.

The “click” isn’t a magical language switch. “Thinking” in Korean might not be the “click” for you. Maybe it’s association with words and pictures. Maybe it’s what you hear and see in the movies you watch or the songs you listen to. Maybe it’s a conversation that you overheard or had with somebody. It can be a number of things that’ll happen.

The “click” is really just finally understanding how to learn a language.