Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intensive Korean Study: Week 2

Another week! I was able to focus a lot more than last week, but it was still a struggle trying to catch up. I'm starting to think I might be trying to tackle too much; the textbook has been taking a lot more time than I expected, as is the Chunhyang side project.

Anyways, on to the progress report...

Integrated Korean: Beginning 1 Textbook

Finally finished chapter 2. I'm actually supposed to be at the end of chapter 4 by this point, but I'm remaining (blindly) optimistic about getting it all done! I actually didn't schedule Korean study on the weekends, so I guess I'll just have to do a bit of work then too. Not a problem.

I came across my first Korean language difficulty this week concerning particles. In Korean, words cannot stand alone. Instead, particles must be attached to them; they help indicate how each word functions in the sentence. It helps to keep everything clear in the sentence, unlike in English in which subjects and objects can be easily confused. There are four kinds of particles: Subject, object, location, and topic particles.

While the first three are pretty easy to understand, the topic particle's function was initially confusing to me. I mean, isn't the subject of a sentence also the topic of the sentence?

When I came across this problem, unfortunately the textbook couldn't really help me. The grammar is given in chunks that somehow feel very jumbled and disorganized to me. While there is a reference page that shows all of the grammar particles, there's no centralized area where I can comprehensively compare different grammar concepts. There also simply wasn't a place where the difference between subject and topic particles was explained.

And so I took to the Internet! I settled on using a site I had stumbled upon before, simply called "Learn Korean Language." According to the article on particles, subject and topic particles are actually not necessarily comparable. Instead, subject particles have the ability to replace any of the particles in the sentence, giving that particular part emphasis in the sentence. If one says, "Ji-eun is reading a book at home," emphasis could be given to Ji-eun, the book, or the home. I guess it's just a matter of context.

Of course there's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it.

Having no answer key has also been a bit of a problem when working with slightly more complicated sentence structures. I mean, it's not extremely complicated yet, but at the moment particles and placement sometimes has been confusing.

Integrated Korean: Beginning 1 Workbook

Finally started using it! Pretty simple, and good for reinforcing concepts. While there are exercises in the textbook, the workbook is definitely useful. Just like the audio files for the textbook, the workbook's audio is available online.

Chunhyang Project

If my Chunhyangdyun movie review is any indication, I'm not exactly a fan of this whole project so far. Regardless, I'm going to get started with watching Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang really soon. Polecat is not a fan of this series, but she was also a fan of Chunhyangdyun; our tastes don't exactly match up. So who knows? I'm hoping to like it since I'll have to watch all 17 episodes by the end, and those could be some looong 17 hours.

Let's Speak Korean

I've decided that I'm a fan of the inclusion of season three's Blake Minich. He is the resident "student" of the show, hosted by Lisa Kelley and Young Kim. Blake adds a really silly element to the show that makes it a bit more entertaining to watch and a little less cringe-worthy than, say, season one with pushy salesman co-host Stephen Revere. It also just makes it more of a television show with entertainment value than something resembling an informational VHS. I admit that I laughed at some of the parts including Blake. All three of them seem very unrehearsed and therefore genuine, and there is also a nice rapport among them.

Go season three! I'm a fan.

I also had never watched an episode from this season to the very end, and I really like the inclusion of cultural lessons as well. This show packs in a lot considering each episode is only about ten minutes long. With the exception of actual grammar lessons, Let's Speak Korean has just about every element you'd expect from a textbook, including the one I'm using, in fact.

It's also nice to be able to learn some useful phrases. Seeing a real person talking, sounding out the words to you, is quite helpful.

"It matches my personality? And the tail's been cut off too."
"...I was hungry."

NOW Manhwa

I tried to get through the first chapter of volume 1, and it was tough! I didn't bother to try to understand every word; for me, it was mostly sounding out the words aloud, and also reading at a good pace. My reading is... stilted, at best, but I'm trying! I can understand a few verbs and words, both from what I've learned from my textbook and what I already know. To be honest, at the moment I read so poorly that I don't even understand the words I already know, even when I read them aloud.

My spoken Korean is so bad I actually don't even understand myself. Damn.

I think I might just forgo the first volume since, in my opinion, the series doesn't get good until further on anyway. I'll probably feel more inclined to actually understand the words if I need to know what's going on, which will be past volume five.


The week went by too fast, again. I feel like I'm getting more used to the pace, but I also only have a few more weeks left! Agh.


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