Ddochii’s Learning Log

Hi everyone! I decided it might be fun to keep track of my learning through a learning log. Let’s see if I keep up with it lol.

First, I’ll introduce my Korea/Korean journey. I don’t think I’ve ever written it out before, so I’m sure I’ll miss some things…but it’ll be fun to reflect!

Early Years (2009-2015)

I first gained interest in Korean through K-pop, back in maybe 2009. I was a huge fan of Super Junior, Boa, Wonder Girls, After School…etc. I used to copy their names in hangeul in my notebook like I was drawing pictures lol. I even wrote out the whole song lyrics of Brown Eyed Girls’ songs! I never really got past learning to read hangeul a little bit though. I was able to learn through a random blog an American wrote about Korean; I couldn’t really find other learning materials. I watched a lot of k-pop content without English subtitles, out of pure dedication to my fandoms lol.

Formal Studies (2015-2018)

I slowly lost interest in K-pop once I got into high school. This changed when I went to college and my roommate also grew up listening to K-pop. We reminisced, and we formed a K-pop club with some other friends. This club became close to the Korean international student club and other Korean clubs. I made lots of friends, including my best friend who happened to be Korean American. I started taking Korean classes (my first language class ever!). I joined, and eventually helped run, a Korean Language Learning club where we offered conversation practice meetings, Korean food gatherings, and informal classes. I started tutoring other students who could not take Korean classes due to scheduling, or who just wanted to practice more.

Since I was studying education, I also started tutoring Korean students learning English. This helped me get to use Korean without feeling shy— neither of us spoke a common language that well anyways.

Throughout college, I took the Korean classes offered, practiced with classmates (most were Chinese students, so our best common language ended up being Korean!), and used apps like Hellotalk. Even though I couldn’t speak well, I would call people and just listen to them like I was listening to a podcast haha.
My best friend also only spoke Korean once she drank alcohol, so that also forced me to understand Korean and gave me an opportunity to practice without judgement LMAO.

I would say after 5 or 6 semesters of Korean class that I was at TOPIK level 4. Even though I was technically in ‘advanced’ classes, and I was reading articles and writing essays, I still felt I lacked a lot.

Living in Korea (2019-2023)

After graduation, I decided to work as an English teacher for a year. I thought it would be a fun kind of break before teaching in the US, while still earning money and practicing Korean. I had done my student teaching in Japan, and visited Korea for a week once that was finished (lol I missed my own graduation ceremony to visit Korea!). I was alone, so I met a people through Hellotalk every day I was in Korea (DON’T DO THIS!!!).

My first experience in Korea was rough. Workers ignored me (I guess because they were shy and didn’t know English?) and I had to pluck up my courage to even say ‘thank you’. Taxi drivers couldn’t really understand me, and I was so stressed out lol. I was able to speak with the people I met, though.

Despite this, I wanted to go back and actually use my Korean. I moved to Gangnam in May, 2019. None of my coworkers spoke Korean at all, so I ended up being the designated translator whenever we took taxis, went on trips, went shopping, etc. It was stressful to be depended on, but my Korean really improved.

I went to the same coffee shops and convenience store before work and tried to order in a slightly different way each time (I didn’t ever know what to say, so I just tried things…and if they said it back to me, I would copy that next time). I couldn’t quite understand what they said back to me, but over time I started to catch more and more. I became friends with the Starbucks worker and the convenience store lady (who I called my Korean mom) and they made it a point to ask me about my day or work. I learned a lot of phrases from them, though they didn’t speak English. I would memorize what they said that I didn’t know, then search it up or ask my friend later lol. It was slow going, but I got better and better. I briefly took 1 on 1 classes through HelloKorean, where I learned I read out loud like an elementary school student LOL. I also briefly took the free Korean classes through Sookmyung Women’s University, but the level was too easy for me. I tried the highest level and it was way too hard though. I quit the classes altogether once I moved away from Seoul.

I moved out of Seoul in 2021, and started a new job where some coworkers didn’t speak English too well. I talked to them in Korean, and even did parent teacher conferences in Korean. I started 1 on 1 tutoring again, but I wasn’t consistent. I only wanted conversation classes in order to get by in Korea more easily.

I did everything alone. I went to the doctor, went to immigration, scheduled movers to help move my apartment, went to the skin clinic, got my hair done, called maintenance, argued with the cafe workers who wouldn’t let foreigners in due to COVID, went to the city office to get my vaccination status accepted in Korea (I got vaccinated in the USA)…it was hard, but of course all these experiences improved my Korean. I still felt frustrated that I couldn’t express myself eloquently (especially when I felt something was unfair or I wanted to complain), but I was finally able to say I ‘spoke’ Korean. I read news articles, joined Korean twitter, went to K-pop events (where people I’d talked to online were embarrassingly shook that I was a foreigner lmfao), etc. I also read a lot of WEBTOONs and blogs on the Brunch app.

In 2023, I even joined some ‘clubs’ for workers. Most members were 30+, and I was the ONLY foreigner lol. This was the best for my Korean, even if it meant I felt left out sometimes. I’m not going to lie, once I cried on the way home since I couldn’t participate in group discussions and no one tried to include me. But it just meant I needed to learn more. I found my last Korean teacher, and she’s been THE BEST. I get to talk for an hour, then she teaches me some grammar or vocabulary. We realized I had gaps in my knowledge of Korean grammar since I hadn’t studied from textbooks or books lol. I started trying to read novels, I read 어느 날 색깔이 사라졌다, 죽고 싶지만 떡볶이 먹고 싶다, and 아몬드. Since my tutor was learning English, we started checking in every week to see how far we got in our respective books. It was really motivating!

But I was honestly tired of being in Korea. As time went on, I started focusing on the negatives more than the positives. I felt offended when people flat out ignored me until I went to them and spoke Korean, I was tired of the blatant stares, I was tired of people following me on the street, I was tired of people assuming I didn’t belong. I felt at home there in some ways, but in other ways I felt I would never be able to be myself there— and it wasn’t just due to language like I’d initially thought. And I wanted to be near my family, and have a support system. Although I had friends and coworkers in Korea, I don’t think I ever established a true ‘home’ in Korea. So I came back to the US.

Now (2024-)

Before leaving Korea, my family came to visit. I was able to show off my ‘other home’ and introduce them to my life abroad. It felt fitting that this happened right before I left. I also decided to take TOPIK in Korea, just to have a record for all these years of efforts. With only a month to prepare (I decided really late lol), I was going insane studying with past papers. I kept reading novels and manhwa here and there as a ‘break’ from studying. I initially had the goal of TOPIK 5, but my tutor convinced me to try to TOPIK 6 since I am already at a TOPIK 5 level. AND I DID IT!!! I got TOPIK 6 (barely) lol. It felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders— I had something to show for my time in Korea and my time spent studying.

So now here I am, slowly forgetting my Korean LOL. I was so tired after TOPIK, I took a break from Korean. I am using Natively to start to read more, as that seems the easiest way to keep up my passive skills at least. I’m sad I spent so much time becoming conversational in Korean but now I don’t use it at all lol. But I’m sure I’ll use it again one day!

So I want to read more adult novels, and I also plan on reading some textbooks to fill in any gaps (since I’m no longer taking any classes). I might even read some beginner textbooks to just refresh everything haha. I also have begun doing some translating for fun.

Oh, and I recently started tutoring some friends who are traveling to Korea soon, which is also fun and gives me an opportunity to use Korean. Korean has been my biggest hobby, so I’m so happy to share that with others.

So, now I’m just hoping to preserve my current Korean level and start leaning Spanish. I’ve been trying to study Spanish for years, but it just wasn’t as interesting to me as Korean was. But now that I am often seeing my family (who don’t speak English), I thought I really need to do it.

I always say I am the worst language learner because I took the longest, least efficient route to become fluent-ish in Korean lmao. I hope I can do better when it comes to learning Spanish!

GOALS

Korean:

  • 4000 total pages read in Korean (inc. novels, young adult books, manhwa, poetry)
  • 12 books (inc. novels, young adult books, language study textbooks)
  • Review textbooks

Spanish:

  • 20 books (children’s books, language study textbooks, graded readers)
  • Listen to all of Language Transfer
11 Likes

Not sure if you’re looking to add anything, but for Spanish, Dreaming Spanish is great.

3 Likes

Oh, I’ve heard of this! I’ll try it out, thanks :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I’m really happy to see another Korean learner on the forums! :smiling_face: Looking forward to reading your log and maybe reading some books together in a book club some time.

5 Likes

Yes, I’m really glad to see the Korean learning community here :face_holding_back_tears: Honestly I don’t know many other dedicated learners so it’s been fun to read about everyone’s studies!

I keep meaning to try and catch up for one of the book clubs. I’ll stop procrastinating one of these days lol :laughing:

4 Likes

March:

Podcasts: :headphones:

  • 여둘톡: eps 71, 1, 2, 3
  • Language Transfer (Spanish): 1-10

Youtube: :desktop_computer:

  • 뱀집: 태연 (1, 2편), 제시, 키, 민니, 텐 episodes
  • 수탉: many
  • 리로그: 3 videos

Books: :books:
Finished

  • 구미호 식당 2: 저세상 오디션 (특별판)
  • 고양이 섬

Started

Dramas: :tv:

  • Doctor Slump

New things I learned:
Spotlight for some interesting things I learned!

:star: 흡혈귀 : vampire, 관 : coffin
I’ve always seen 뱀파이어 or 드라큘라 used to refer to vampires, so it was interesting to learn a ‘Korean’ word for it. Also, I can’t believe I never knew the word for coffin! I saw it in one of the 엘레베이터에… short stories, and then it also came up in a short story from 그들이 떨어뜨린 것. Fun!
:star: 늪 : 빠져나오기 힘든 상황, swamp
:star: 허무주의 : nihilism
I definitely won’t remember this word but lol.
:star: -기 십상이다 : An expression used to state that the current situation can easily become the situation mentioned in the preceding statement or there is a high possibility.
I don’t often come across new grammar (?) phrases so this was fun to find!
:star: 호리병 : a gourd shaped bottle
This came up in two different stories in 엘레베이터에… which is fun. Pros of reading a lot from the same author— they use the same vocab!
image

4 Likes