Thursday, June 14, 2007

Uni-lingual in Korea

Okay, that post about being pretend bilingual reminded me of my miserable attempt to learn Korean.
I lived in Seoul, South Korea in 1996, and thought "if you're going to be living there, you should learn the language". Hmph. My dad bought me this elaborate collection of Barron's Korean tapes, which I dutifully listened to for the few weeks before I flew to Seoul, and it was hard! I applaud anyone who can speak English AND any of the Asian languages - they are so different! If you learned both languages before the age of 5, though, it doesn't really count, since learning anything at that age is easy.

If only Cookie taught Learning About Korean... Although I wasn't learning much Korean, I was learning that my Korean co-workers were terribly unconcerned as to whether or not I ever spoke their language. They could already speak mine, and since we were working at an English language school, that was all that mattered, apparently. They thought it was cute that I was making an effort, but would giggle behind their hands whenever I tried to say anything more complicated than "hello". This was not Learning in the Trust Tree, and mocking is never an effective teaching tool, believe me.

I learned Survival Korean instead. Survival Korean, for me, consisted of taxi directions from the bars back to my apartment (so I also spoke Drunk Korean), food ordering, and currency and numbers - for shopping. The Koreans have three different ways of counting - so that part was actually kind of an accomplishment.

And to round out my education, my Korean students also taught me two phrases to assist me on the Subway:

Hajima - "Stop it"

Nonun aju bodishi upda - "You are very rude"

I'm totally bilingual.