After teaching the Korean language for more than 7 years to people from different ethnicity and cultural background in Malaysia, I’ve finally come up with a beginner’s guide. These steps are based on my years of observation on how Malaysians pick up the language.
These steps are also usually practiced by those learners who pick up the language in a flash. Are you ready to be a language wizard in no time?
1. Set a SPECIFIC short-term and long-term goal!
I know what you were thinking when you heard me say short-term and long-term goals –OVERRATED. The idea may sound a tad bit old school, but it still works wonders if you do it correctly!
Here are some good and bad examples of short-term and long-term goals that I’ve observed students say.
“I want to master reading Korean characters in a month.” [short-term goal]
“I want to have a free conversation with a Korean native speaker for 20 minutes without looking at a dictionary.” (long-term goal)
“I want to be an expert in Korean language.”
“I want to be able to talk freely with the native.”
Notice how the good examples had a precise strategy while the bad example was unascertained and without any plan. Goals that are vague will make it harder for you to achieve it. The next time you set a goal, try setting a definite game plan.
2. Find resources to meet your short-term goal.
Books, audio, electronic media, social media and apps like “Duolingo” are great tools to utilize when you are learning on your own without a tutor. These resources can improve your reading, listening, expression, vocabulary and possibly even writing skills.
I also encourage my students to answer Korean language quizzes when they have nothing to do. I usually prepare the uBitto practice quizzes for my students. The next one may sound funny, but I also encourage them to read Korean children story books to improve their reading skills.
You can also watch Korean related videos on Youtube or Korean dramas without subtitles to improve your listening skills.
3. Find your very own language squad.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”African Proverb
I am pretty sure everyone has heard of this famous African proverb. This applies to almost everything we do and even with learning a new language.
Here are three types of squad you need to have!
· Squad to learn the language from.
· Squad to practice the language with.
· Squad to teach the language.
If you are looking for someone to learn from, I suggest finding a native tutor in your city. To practice the language, try it with your language classmates or find native speakers in your town. If you can’t find any around you, just hop on to your virtual world and look for groups on Facebook or forums that speak the Korean language.
4. Finding a suitable environment to dwell among the native speakers.
Speaking a new language is not only about knowing the right words and pronouncing it accurately. You know you have really mastered a language when you speak like a native with correct tones and intonation.
Here are some tips that can help!
· Find a master to guide you!
· Find a local native-speaking community to mingle around while speaking the language.
· Travel to a non-tourist spot where you can socialize with the local native speakers.
Oh! Before I forget, we are going to Korea from Malaysia this coming winter in November. Come and join us! Click the link below to sign up now!
5. Think like a Korean, and speak like a Korean.
What I usually tell my students who are beginning to learn Korean is for them to imagine that they don’t know any language besides Korean.
This will make them not want to translate words or sentences from their own native language such as English, Malay, Chinese into Korean. The sentence usually doesn’t make sense when you direct translate from your own native language.
6. New goal!
Set a new short term goal. Repeat steps 1-5. Pretty easy right?
A lot of people think learning a new language is about obtaining new knowledge. But in my opinion, it is more than that.
Take this for example, I have an educational background of a programmer. This means I have learned computer languages such as COBOL, C, C++, Java, CSS, Ruby, Python, SQL, ABAP. Learning these programs was one thing but the real challenges I faced were putting what I have learned into work.
The knowledge you learn in the class consist of only 20%. 60% comes from putting it into practice. Practice makes perfect. Remember? The remaining 20% comes from experience over the course of time.
The knowledge you have of language is just information. But when knowledge is combined with lots of practice it becomes power!
Take my story for this. When I was 10 years old, I would speak Korean so well with my friends so I thought I could speak anything. However, one day I realized that I couldn’t understand what my brothers were talking about.
At the age of 13, I really thought I have mastered the Korean language but yet again I couldn’t understand what my dad and uncle were speaking about.
Ask yourself this now. Say your mother tongue is English. How long did you take to be at this level of speaking English? Can you call yourself an expert? Most of you would say no because we all know that learning a language is an ongoing process. We learn new words and expressions every day.
As a native Korean speaker, sure enough, I can speak my mind freely but I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the command of the language.
Anyways, this is just my two cents. I hope my writing has enlightened any beginners out there in one way or another. Cheers! 화이팅
Also, please don’t hesitate to share how you learn a new language with me, so that others can also benefit from your genius ideas!