Tag Archives: Foreign Language Tip

I Tried Learning Korean In Reverse…

Okay, so the title sounds really strange so I’ll explain. In every language app, it’ll ask you the language you speak vs. the language you’re learning. So, for language I speak, I chose Korean and for language I’m learning, I chose English. I muted the sound and solely worked by translating sentences and written instructions.

Before I start by saying the pros and cons, I’ll say this, it didn’t hurt to test the app and it didn’t hurt to see things reversed, but was it more helpful?

Not really. But we’ll get to that.


Working in the reverse forces you to remember things you’ve learned in Korean and apply in context to English. All the instructions are written in Korean vs. English but I muted the sound because it wasn’t really necessary to hear the app pronounce words in English for me.


It’s not all that much different. Granted, the vocabulary chosen will be different because it’s not teaching Korean, it’s teaching the closest words to English. In some ways, I feel it’s a bit regressive almost because you’re thinking in English but reading in Korean. That defeats the whole purpose of learning Korean. Part of learning Korean is teaching yourself to think in the language as well.


그 텔레비전이 방에 있습니다.

If you think in Korean, you should see that sentence and immediately know that it’s talking about a TV being in a specific location without translating the sentence.

s/n: It’s okay if you’re still translating but work on just reading and comprehending without putting it in English. That takes time and practice. 

However, if you use an app in the reverse, the app wants you to see that sentence and translate it to English. So it’s a little counterproductive because not only do you have to think more in English but you also have to remember English rules and grammar for sentence structure.

Overall, if you’re using it as a supplement to your Korean studies that you already do weekly and you’re pretty advanced and looking for a challenge, it’s a pretty interesting way to challenge your translation skills occasionally.

Would I do this again or regularly? Maybe not.


Let’s Talk Titles. Addressing Others Properly in Korean | [Grammar of the “Day”] / Foreign Language Tip


Today’s topic is an important one. It’s a bit of a grammar lesson as well as a “Foreign Language Tip” specifically for those learning Korean. This is one of those lessons that you should really keep in mind in the event you are visiting Korea in the future and decide to speak in Korean.

Titles are Important

It is really important that you refer to people in the proper manner in Korean. If you don’t, it’s considered rude. There’s no way around that. Unless that person has specifically told you that it’s okay you can just call them something else like, for example, their name or a nickname.


Unless told otherwise, like stated before, you truly need to be using the proper titles for people. This is a sign of respect and it dignifies the person you’re speaking with.

“But respect is earned not given! And furthermore, what if they aren’t my supervisor or anything like that?”

You still need to properly address others when you speak to them (unless stated otherwise by that person). In America, it’s not a huge deal if you don’t address people properly because to be honest, it’s just not that serious in the states. However, Korea is not the United States. The customs are different and so are the manners so you have to keep that in mind when visiting another country.

Types of Titles: (Examples)

  • 교수님 | Professor
  • 선생님 | Teacher
  • 사장님 | Company President/Boss

No Title? No problem!

  • -씨
    • equal or lower status
    • rude if you’re their junior
    • used after given name when equal
      • i.e., 민정 – 씨 (Min-jeong “shi”)
    • Not used between people of same gender
      • I was told this and I also read this somewhere so I guess this is just one of those unspoken rules or something. I don’t know. 
  • 선배 (seonbae) | senior
    • Not close? Add -님
      • 선배님
  • 후배 (hubae) | junior
    • Not close? Add -님
      • 후배님

And if you are close to this person… try one of the below.

  • 형 (hyeong) | older brother
    • used by men
  • 누나 (nuna) | older sister
    • used by men
  • 언니 (eonni) | older sister
    • used by women
  • 오빠 (oppa) | older brother
    • used by women

Okay so that’s it for this week! Next week we’ll return to more posts on how to start up a conversation involving an activity!




Foreign Language Tip | Is “Konglish” A Thing?

Have you  ever heard the word “Konglish”?

My first time hearing that word was about a couple of weeks ago when I was skimming an article on how you can learn Korean a lot faster than you think you can. Now, granted, I am not in the business of trying to promote “quick learning” nor am I trying to do that myself. I know enough Korean to teach it on a basic level and that’s about it. I’m still working on it currently. But it never dawned on me just how much Korean I really knew until I looked at that article and saw that word.

What is “Konglish”?

Apparently, these are English words that are used the exact same way in Korean except they are pronounced differently. Words like, “computer”, “DVD”, “taxi”, etc. are all words that qualify for “Konglish”.

However, I dare to take that a step further. When you hear a sentence or read a sentence, do you pick out words you already know? Have you begun practicing by incorporating Korean words in English phrases or vice versa?

It sounds absolutely insane to do that but there is a thing called “Spanglish” and those of us (not me anymore – don’t use it you will most certainly lose it) who speak that language fluently do it all the time without even thinking about it. So what’s the difference in that and “Konglish”? Not much actually.

It is possible to say something like this… “아이고! 나 ate too much! 내 stomach 아파요!”

It looks crazy. It probably will sound crazy. And feel crazy to say this in conversation to a non-Korean speaker. But for someone learning the language, speaking in this manner to a friend who is also learning the language or knows the language, it might actually be a bit more helpful than you think.

I’ve been in the middle of a conversation with someone before and was switching back and forth between English and Korean just like the example above and there was no confusion. In fact, the conversation continued to flow and it helped my mind adjust quickly when I was listening to someone speak in Korean later on.

That’s not to say that this will work for everyone because it won’t. And in some cases it may even confuse you when you try to do it and so it’ll probably be better if you don’t try it if you know it’ll slow you down. But for those of you who want to try it to help with fluency, go right ahead!

You never know what may prove to be helpful while you’re on your language journey.

Foreign Language Tip #3.1 | “I’m Not Learning Anything… and I’ve Tried Everything!”

Is it really true that we can forget things if we’re not really focused on them? Or maybe we never really learned anything at all?

Contrary to popular belief, whatever you’re exposing your mind to will eventually stick in some way. You may not recognize it at the moment but it’s there inside your brain. The real question is, how do you filter your brain to get it out?

Well, that takes training. If you sit down right now and try to think of a full sentence in Korean, your first thought probably is, “I can’t.” But, if you’ve been watching any Korean movies, dramas, shows or documentaries, you most certainly can. And if you can’t repeat it verbatim, you’ll recognize it if you hear it again.

Why is that significant?

Because recognition is part of understanding and understanding is key to comprehension… in short, you know Korean. You just aren’t confident speaking it yet.

So how do I get to the “confident in speaking” part?

Practice and time.

The most nerve wrecking thing I’ve ever done is gone up to a total stranger, (a nice Korean lady who owns her own shop) and start speaking Korean to her while she was speaking in English to me. I was TERRIFIED! I was afraid I’d say something wrong or she wouldn’t understand me. A million thoughts ran through my mind before I opened my mouth but I knew if I didn’t do it then I probably wouldn’t have the courage later. And you know what? That one moment gave me the boost to keep trying. And all I said was “Thank you” and “Yes, I do.” when she asked me, “You understand Korean?” in Korean.

And that brief exchange was enough.

To some, it was minor and probably insignificant but when you’re first starting out like I was at the time, it means everything in the world.

So how do you get the courage to try it?

First things first:

  1. Practice making sentences in your head
  2. Write things down in Korean (you can even use romanization is you’re more comfortable doing that)
  3. Keep actively and passively learning

You’re picking up something. You just need the confidence to try it out. The more you speak it aloud to other Korean speakers, the more you’ll start to see how much you truly understand.

And a bonus phrase:

Remember this if you remember nothing else:

천천히 말하십시오. (cheoncheonhi malhasibsio.) | “Please speak slowly.”

저는 이해가 안 돼요. (jeoneun ihaega an dwaeyo.) | “I do not understand.”

나는 조금 한국말해. (naneun jogeum hangugmalhae.) | “I speak a little Korean.”

These are three phrases that helped me out tremendously in the beginning! And each person I found myself saying this to was so gracious and kind. They would not only slow down but commend me on the Korean that I did know at the time and offer any assistance to help me continue on in my learning.

Don’t give up! You know more than you think you do!