I am Korean by birth but can’t speak Korean much at all. My father gave me a rant of me being Korean but can’t speak Korean. I don’t care about my nationality. That is not an universal way of thining. I am a human being. How much more do I have to prove that I am Korean? I think his atttitude and to me learning Spanish is inappropriate because it is disrespectful to hurt other people’s passions of learning another language. I do not think myself as a Spanish person because I am not Spanish. I do not how much more do I have to prove. What can I do? Please help.
How do you communicate with your cousins, uncles, and aunts if you do not speak Korean?
Speaking any new language is like living a new life. Now I am learning German and realize that our human brains conjure up thoughts in the same chunks that we do in our native languages. Had I not made any progress in German, I would not have known about it. Knowing about German collocations also allows me to consciously understand my own native language. In the end, do whatever you like to do. My nieces and nephews are learning URDU even though they were born in the USA. They would like to communicate with their aunts. If you do not have a legit reason for learning Korean, then so be it. You do not need to prove anything to anyone.
I think it is good for you to disconnect from identifying as Korean or any other group. I also try hard not to get emotionally attached to any group. On the other hand, improving your Korean may be useful, even if it’s not your priority language-wise.
My advice would be for you to “mentally disconnect” from feeling Korean and to learn to ignore messages to the contrary. You don’t need to discuss if you don’t feel like it, just ignore them in your mind. On the other hand, do try to speak more Korean, as a language challenge. Think of Korean as you secondary target language at this moment (Spanish being the first). Think of it like this: my family think I’m speaking more Korean becaus “I’m Korean” but in my heart of hearts it’s just a linguistic experiment. Hey! You can even talk about your experience trying to speak more Korean in your blog!
This way, you may find that pressure may decrease (although this is not a certainty), because you’re doing a bit of what they ask from you but more important, you’ll stop second-guessing yourself.
Te deseo mucho éxito, amigo
Sorry for the the difficult spot you’re being put in. I definitely empathize. I remember Master Steve talking about families putting pressure on the kids to learn their ancestral languages. It might have been in the context of him not speaking Swedish or Czech at the time despite that being where he was born and his parents’ native toungue. He wasn’t talking about pressure he felt, but just people in general. He talked about it at least once, I think twice, and maybe more.
As to the specifics of your situation: you don’t need to prove anything. I don’t know you, but you’re “Korean enough.” Second, you’re in America and contrary to popular belief about there being no “official” language, American is an English speaking nation. You’re under no obligation to learn any foreign language. You do it for either personal interest or work.
That being said, that’s not necessarily going to make the pressure go away or make your dad change his mind. For that reason, I endorse the ftornay approach if you have an interest improving your Korean.
Btw, here is a video about the dangers of the “Grafalloon effect” which shows how correct you are about not identifying with groups:
And a little note, to tie up with what @LILingquist wrote:
My advice is based on what I’ve read in your blog, which makes me think that you’re in fact interested in improving your Korean, even if you’re not crazy about it. Of couse, if you hated the idea, I would not advise you to speak the language simply to appease your parents.
More concretely, I personally would tell my father:
“Ok, I listend to you and I am in fact interested in improving my Korean so I’ll try speaking it more often but it may be difficult at first, so please be patient”. Notice that this line totally ignores the issue of being “more Korean” and it’s only a general promise, not a commitment to always speak Korean.
In my experience, you can’t change your parents’ mind, so you either get into a big quarrel (which in some cases it is of course warranted) or you find a compromise that you can be happy about, just make sure that you are in fact comfortable with it. Don’t go that route if you are not.
As a bonus here you have two YT channels by girls from South Korea who are into Latin American culture to the extent of identifying more with it than with the Korean culture:
They are pretty funny. Everything is in Spanish so it may be still be a bit over your current level, but I still think the may provide some motivation
Mi otra problema fue la actitud de mi padre. Su actitud fue muy negativa. Mi padre ha desmotivado mi autoaprendizaje en coreono.
You guys are a great help so far. These comments make me laugh a little but is still helpful. Even in the bad times, you guys motivate me.
I never felt emotionally attached to any language. I get fascinated by it but not attached to it by any means. As long as I can find good, interesting content to work with, that would be a good motivation for me to learn the language. This is something that I have discovered from learning Spanish.
I am texting someone in Korean right now and saying the words. It is kind of fun for me.
Hey, that is a good way. I can talk more about my progress in learning languages even if I were doing my reflection over a certain duration of time.
You’re right. To be honest, I never try to prove any other way that I am Korean other than my origin. For me, he is just nuts. He does not have the respect for other languages and does not even know that there is no “official” language in America. I know that there is no “official” language in America. He got to prove that English is an “official” language other than a lot of people speaking it.
I rather ignore his incessant demands about Korean. He does not show even respect for the Korean language for his mocking, which angers me. However, I have to put with all this or suffer his wrath and bombastic temper.
Tbh, I do not talk to them. Besides, I have very few memories of my time in Korea. I totally agree with your statement: “Speaking any new language is like living a new life.” I know that I do not need to prove my father. Every other Korean that I met know that I am a Korean and that’s that. My father is such a prick. He has a problem with it.
In my view, it is entirely your father’s fault you’re not bilingual, he should be ashamed to reproach you.
Well, it started with my mother. She wanted me to grow up learning English when my father and I first immigrated to America. However, my father thought that I should be able to keep my Korean at home. By the end of the day, my father’s problems are the lack of understanding of language learners, methodology and incentives to learn the language more effectively for each person. He is not very good at being open-minded. He should learn to have some respect.
I myself am a heritage Korean speaker who has recently taken up the task of learning my native language. From what you’ve shared in your post, I likely grew up in an environment much like yours in regards to the Korean language. My parents would often bombast and criticize me for not learning Korean despite there being no need to do so. They did not offer me any opportunities or resources to facilitate learning the language nor did they impart any motivations to do such. I believe it is part of the (their) culture to expect more from one’s children oftentimes to a seemingly obnoxious degree.
My advice to you is to (1) examine rigorously your own beliefs and values as well as those of your family and (2) reflect upon your observations and if there are any changes that need to be made on your part, then go ahead and make them.
After this two part process is complete, if the conflict still remains then you should face it. You are your own man and if this is something you strongly believe in (and you’ve put in the effort to closely scrutinize your own beliefs) then look your father in the eye and explain to him how the current situation (your situation) came to be, why you are doing what you are doing and finally what it all means to you. If a consensus can’t be reached then you will have to choose between enduring his (or their) criticisms or putting an appropriate distance between yourself and them. If you are living together this could mean moving out, or ignoring their calls if you don’t. One thing that I’ve learned about people time and time again is that you cannot change them. This can oftentimes lead to difficult decisions in life but hey that is just how the cookie crumbles. Good luck.