In the same week, I heard about the Glossika’s Massive Sentences and John Forthingham’s Bruce Lee quote about being focused on mastery.
JF: “While you certainly should strive to constantly expand your vocabulary, it is far more important to be able to use what words you do know with ease (this means knowing the different meanings of a given word, pronouncing words with the right intonation, tone or stress, knowing common collocations, etc.).”
Glossika talks about saying sentences 20,000 times to reach fluency.
I’m just a novice. I don’t know what I am doing. At first, I jumped into writing Korean pen pals when I could not even write a sentence yet. I just looked up nouns as I was writing and stuck them into English sentences. I know, terrible idea. But I didn’t know what I was doing and I was trying to communicate, to meet part of the way some Korean people who wanted help with English and weren’t so good at reading.
In 2 months of doing that, I met a lot of words once, some words several times, never managed to figure out a flashcard system to work for me (although I have tried MANY with LingQ being one of them). It has been a self-learner journey of making as many mistakes as possible. I don’t have a system yet. I am not organized.
I have a stack of books I haven’t read yet. Two books that are tattered because I know them the best and have referred often as I attempted to write and read letters every day. I have flashcards scattered about that I am trying to get myself to use, but I am not disciplined.
You could say I have been studying Korean for 3 months and have made no progress at all being able to speak. I hear about people spending hours every day studying, and I am in awe, but I can’t seem to manage 15 minutes a day. Yet I have opened up the floodgates to having Korean words find me, through Twitter, Facebook, LingQ, Transparent Language’s word of the day, Fresh Korean’s word of the day, downloaded Korean vocabulary apps, etc.
I’m still just struggling through installing and learning software, figuring out how to create lessons and submit sentences for correction and request audio at LingQ.
One thing I think I am doing right is I signed up for a online Korean class that meets once a week where I get to actually speak. 5 hours of speaking so far with a native Korean teacher in Korea. It is all the speaking I have done.
So anyways, I am lost. I have devoted most of my time to looking up words in the dictionary which I promptly forget. Yet I haven’t mastered these words. The much smaller vocabulary for my online class I am trying to master. I want to be ready to speak when they ask me questions. So I am trying to find a way to review what is covered in the class.
I am still just scattered. I do a little bit of everything. I don’t accomplish much. I couldn’t tell you how much I have learned well enough to be quizzed on.
With all this flailing, I have learned some things. I’ve got Hangul down pat. I figured out how to type Korean characters. I am slowly teaching myself the keyboard. I can use Skype, Kaokotalk, Yahoo Messenger, Google+ Hangouts, Gmail, facebook Messenger. I’ve learned how to mail postcards to Korea and make phone calls. I started a blog to keep track of things I learn (and things I screw up). I’ve read a ton of cultural information about Korea. I’ve watched a hodgepodge of videos. I’ve read books and websites about language learning. I’ve dug into IPA and Unicode and technical specifications and programming. I bought a smartphone and got connected to the internet.
Through all this, I managed to keep a voracious language exchange partner happy with at least an hour a day of training him in English. Plus juggled daily letters to half a dozen Koreans and English lessons for other folks too, until I finally decided I had to sleep occasionally and stopped free English lessons to non-Koreans.
It has all been a crazy ride. But it is safe to say that I haven’t found study habits that work and I have probably made very little progress if 3 months after starting studying I still can’t answer the question “So how’s the weather?”
Ack. I want to learn. I just have no idea what I am doing.
The weird thing is I am inspiring others. I’m such a mess, but they see me trying and they want to try too.
I’m sure a year from now, I will look back at all my wasted effort and laugh. I am keeping my sense of humor.