Struggling with Korean.

It is difficult to leave languages which you enjoy, where you are able to enjoy interesting content, and then have to start up again with a language where you struggle, where you have to go back to learner content.

I am working with Who is She and Eating Out at LingQ. There are still parts that I don’t understand even after saving all the words I don’t know, and listening to the episodes quite a few times, and reading them on iLingQ on my iPad. I will continue, however, because I know things will eventually click in.

What I enjoy more is reading online Korean newspapers. Even though I have to look up most of the words, the content is of interest. This is the same as what I did with Czech. I started reading online newspapers before I was comfortable with Who is She and other beginner material. The newspaper articles give you a sense of the country, what is happening, what matters in the language. On the other hand, the learner material seems stale.

I am helped in reading the Korean newspapers by my knowledge of Chinese. I make a point of finding the Chinese character in my Naver dictionary, and putting it into the Hint. Unfortunately Naver is not consistent in where it provides the character, so I have to look for it each time. Nor does Naver always provide a clear translation of the meaning. Not an ideal dictionary in my view, but the best available I guess.

Not fluent in Czech, but happy.

I did not get to fluency in Prague in five days, but I took my Czech to a new level. I am satisfied that this strategy worked for me, and satisfied with what I achieved by having a focus for a year, leading to a brief intense period of immersion. I will do it again, and again.

Ideally I would have continued to work on Czech after leaving Prague, but instead I took 5 weeks of while traveling in Spain, Portugal and going to Berlin. But I will continue to work on Czech and Russian, even as I get cracking on my next five days to fluency challenge,Korean.

But it looks like my wife and I are going to Mexico in the Spring so I may delay my Korean trip a little bit. We will see.


Failure and success in language learning

I did not become fluent in five days in Prague. However, I improved tremendously. I am comfortable in Czech. I read, I listen and understand. I can take part in a conversation but stumble here and there. I will post a video of an interview next week if I can.

Yet I feel that my whole fluent in five days experiment was a success. I have acquired a new language. I am not far from fluency. If I had the chance to live in the Czech Republic for a month or two I would certainly be fluent. If I had stayed there a few weeks instead of just four days I would have consolidated my hold on Czech.

As it was I left Prague and did not speak the language for the following month. Not ideal. But it does not matter. I falied to achieve fluency but I succeeded in becoming much more comfortable in Czech. I am now going to try to do the same in Korean.

Ultimately, fluency requires lots of interaction in the language. Once I have built up the base through my reading, listening and LingQing, I can easily move to fluency if I have enough exposure in real situations. And of course, the main thing is to enjoy the process.