baseball, poetry, and kim chi

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Language learning is a trip. Started in on Spanish when I was a kid. Took it for maybe 8 years and never really progressed past a pre-intermediate level. It never bothered me, I never worked very hard at it, my interest was elsewhere. Now fast-forward a few years. Korean is not Spanish. It is one of those languages the State Dept warns about. Been at this thing for maybe 3 weeks. There are two other teachers from Yonsei taking the class with me. They are much more advanced, had been doing private lessons for a year before beginning Korean 1. Every day I am learning. My Korean is getting better. I can read faster. sometimes I recognize words and use the right forms. But most of the time I don’t. The language learning is going about as well as it could for 3 weeks in. But what I am really getting out of this class is how not to teach a language class. The Korean language is being taught like English was 30 years ago. Grammar, grammar, grammar. Some call and respond. Some reading without comprehension. “What does this word mean?” I asked. “Meaning is not important,” Teacher Kim said. But meaning is important. meaning helps words stick. using chunks of sentences over and over again helps things stick. We are learning the most formal of formal forms. If I have a discussion with the president in Korean, I am set. But if I want to make friends with a girl at a club, she will laugh at me. I need to learn what I want to learn outside of class. How backwards is that? Language should be learned from what the students need to know, not what the teacher/institution wants us to know. Seeing this in my language learning I am even more attentive to the wishes of my students in class. I give them so many chunks each day in class with the hope that they remember one or two. I tell them that they will not be tested on this, but if you put this chunk and this group of words together, you get a nice coherent sentence. We don’t need to learn 3 or four grammar forms in one class, we need to learn one on Monday, and work it over all week. work it until it is our friend and we can use it at the drop of a hat. Like I said though, I am learning, more slowly than the amount of time I invest deserves, but I am learning, this is going to take some time.

The bell still rings every day, but how can you be angry with people who are waking up to pray for your liberation?

Just sent out After Meng Chiao to two contests, both of which require the work to be postmarked Nov 15. If you are playing the game right now, you know which ones those are. There are five more I am going to send it to. The next is Action Books.


Blogger Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

Mmmm. Sounds nice.

Learning language. My whole life has been that. From the get go. I still feel like I know nothing. And Korean? Forget about it. I am still working on English.

12:59 PM

Blogger JWG said...


That English is a tricky thing. Think playing with words is an attempt to get closer to it. We always tell our students that it is a never ending process. They will have to continue until they are no longer interested. And w/o interest, much of it will go away.

Enjoyed the song. Made you laugh. made me laugh.

The weather is beautiful, but I feel a bit slow.


9:04 PM


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