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Learning English…

My cousin is visiting for a while. I thought it would be interesting to get his thoughts on what it is like to learn English here in the United States. He has only written in Korean but I will post a translation in the comments later.  Enjoy. 

내가 여기 미국온지 25일정도 됐다.

처음여기에 올때에는 오면 영어정도는 쉽게 배우고 내뱉을수있다고 생각하고 왔다…

미국하면 흔히 무법자들이 흔하는도시…or  법이지배하는도시라고 생각하고 미국에 왔다.

그런데 영화나 내가 듣고 생각하는 미국과는 다르게 .조용하니 사람살기에는 참좋은 곳이라고 생각하고있다.

지금 내가 있는곳이 도시의 중심가가 아니기때문에 그럴지 모르겠지만. .사람들과 만나고 고모식구들과 생활하면서

많은 영어를듣고 배우고 있는중이다..흔히 한국에서는 미국가면2.3개월이면 듣고 6개월이면 말하고 1년이면 대화가 된다고 하는데 흔히 이건 한국에서 어느정도의 영어실력을 가지고 미국가서 유학을 가서 공부를 하는사람들의 기준이다.

나와 같은 경우는 형편없는 영어실력으로 미국에와서 듣고 배울려고 왔는데 막상 부딪혀보니 한국에서 쓰는 영어와 많은 차이가 있었다. 내가 생각하기에 한국에서 “너 영어 매우 잘한다” 라는 소리를들을 정도에서 여기오면 어느정도의 대화는 통할거같다 하지만 발음과 조그마한 스펠링.문장구조에서 조금의 차이점이 있을거같다..

내가 학생시절 학교에서 배우던 영어와 여기에서 조금씩 배워가는영어의 차이점이 많이있다..

첫째.발음이다. 한국사람과 미국사람의 발음하는것이 많이 틀린거같다..각각 나라의 말하는 스타일이 달르다는것보다 쓰는 모국어의 형식 자체가 틀리기 떄문에 듣고 따라할려고해도 똑같은 발음으로 하기가 너무 힘들다 ..

둘째.한국에서 배운 영어와 여기에서 쓰는 영어의 차이점이다..내가 영어를 처음배운게 중1시절10년전이라 할수있다. 그때부터 지금 까지 배운 영어가 여기에서 배운것과의 차이점은 큰차이는없다. 영어를 잘하는사람이라면 대화하는데 크게 어려움은 없을것같다 하지만 어부정하게 영어를배운 나는 여기에서 배우는데 큰 차이점을 발견하였다..한국에서 쓰던 영어중 여기에서 발음하는것과의 차이점이다. 어떻게 보면 발음차이일지도 모르겠지만 한국에서 읽는걸 알려주고 그대로 읽고 그렇게 알던 영어들이 여기에서는 읽는 방법이 조금 다른게 있다는것이다. 내가 들은 바로는 한국에서 배우는 영어가 영국식 영어라고 여기와서 들었다. 그래서 그런지 지금 미국에와 있는지금 한국에서 배운영어가 차라리 몰랐으면 하는 생각도 든다. 한국 사람들이 한번배울때 똑바로 배워라는 말이있다.그렇게 크지는 않지만 그 조그마한차이가 외국에서는 그말이 무슨말인지 몰라서 그냥 넘어가는경우가 있다.

셋째.외국사람들이 말하는 속도/패턴?

속도라고 말하면은 사람들의 능력에 따라 다르겠지만 나는 한국에서 배우면서 근처사람들이 영어를 읽는것을 들어보면 여기에서 듣는것과의 차이다. 유학을가서 영어를 배울때 듣는것이 제일힘들다고 들었다 왜냐면 사람들 마다 말하는 속도가 있겠지만 다른곳의 언어이다보니 힘들고 느린것당연한것 모국어보다 잘할수없을것이다. 사람의 특성중하나는 적응을 한다는것이다. 매일 늦게 듣다보니 영어의모국어인 미국에오다보니간 그 속도를 따라갈수없어서 힘들고 말하는 방식이 틀린것이다. 한국에서는 읽는법을배워도 줄여서 읽고 읽는패턴을 다 알려주지는않는다. 하지만 여기는 글을 읽다보면 스펠링이 그대로지만 읽을때는 조그마하게 교체되면서 읽어진다. 이런것이 여기와서 생소하고 힘들었다..

여기와서 영어를 최대한 빨리 배울려면 내가 생각한 바로는 최대한 듣고/쓰고/말하기이다.

어떤 수업을듣고 공부를 하든지간에 집중해서듣고 그것을 메모하고 말하든지 생각을하는게 공부의 기본이다.

영어도 한가지의 공부를 하는것이기때문에 이 세가지만 열심히 하면 금방배울거같다.

생각하는것처럼 영어가 쉽게 배워지지는 않겠지만 이 세가지를 이행하면서 힘든 영어공부를 배워가야겠다!

Korean Kids, Again

Last week we picked up two Korean children to stay with us for a couple of months. They are brother and sister and so far they are fairly shy with speaking English even though their understanding seems to be pretty good. San Francisco is about three hours from our house so we decided to do a little touring prior on our way home. We went to the Golden Gate bridge where it was a windy 62 degrees and then we stopped off at Stanford University before heading home to a warm 106.

My wife’s nephew caught a ride here on the same flight last minute so we have a full house. He is in his early twenties and just out of his 군대 service. He is here to (drum roll please) learn English and tour a bit before getting back to real life in Korea. He has ambitions of getting a government job and English experience seems to be a real plus on the resume. It seems like everyone wants to get a government job in Korea. Of course, we are all on the other side of the coin trying to learn Korean. I don’t think there are too many government jobs in the States that require Korean language experience though.

My oldest, having now lived in Korea for a short time is doing good with her understanding. My number two, Luke, is not having such an easy time of it, however. Here are some of his thoughts on the matter now that he is sharing a room with his cousin:

Living with Koreans is kind of hard because it is hard to understand them. I want to learn how to speak Korean but I just don’t want to take the time to learn it. My cousin who is staying with us doesn’t speak much English and he is sleeping in my room so that makes it hard to really communicate with him. The other two kids are better at speaking English but I don’t think they are learning anything because they are speaking Korean too much to each other and to my mom. I think I am going to try to learn some Korean during my older cousin’s stay.  

Wanna Bite?

More from Stephanie: 

So on an early release day at the elementary school where I helped teach, my aunt picked me up and I went with her to help her with her job, which was a private English tutor for kids. Her job seemed to consist mostly of driving to each kid’s apartment, checking their homework, asking a few questions and assigning more homework for next time. (maybe it was homework-check-day or something) but after we visited a few kids and got in the elevator to ascend yet again, we were joined by some very young “초딩”s. Before we came to that apartment we had each bought an “ice cream” (more of popsicle type things really) and were trying to eat it before we got to the kids house and when my aunt saw the two second or third grade boys, she immediately offerred her half eaten ice cream to one of them saying “무글래?”(먹을래). I was a little suprised that she would do this, because I highly doubted that she knew this kid, let alone be close enough to offer her ice cream!

Later, as I was leaving a tutoring session, ( that I taught by myself) with “Michael” (6th grade) who came from a different apartment and therefore had to go home also, we were joined by another small kid from that floor whom neither of us knew. Michael was eating a box of 빼빼로 that the 아줌아 whose kid I was teaching supplied for refreshments. When he saw the kid, he offerred some to the little guy who took a couple. I asked Michael if he even knew the kid and he was like , “No. Just.” (그냥 makes more sense in Korean, which by itself means like, ‘just because’ or ‘no reason̵ ;) and when I asked “why would you give a kid you don’t even know something to eat?!” to which he replied “Koreans are just friendly.” I thought this was a very interesting thing. I don’t know about other places, but here, random people are not apt to offer you stuff, unless they’re flyers advertising something but I know I would be a little freaked out if someone I didn’t even know offered me their 과자 they happened to be eating at the moment. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Secret Language

While I was helping teach at an elementary school, I noticed the kids said 멍미 a lot. I asked the English teachers and she said she didn’t know what it meant. I thought maybe I was pronouncing it wrong or something, but later one of the students I tutor said it too, he was in 6th grade and when I asked him what it meant, he said it was ’secret language’ and that it meant just “what?!” . I don’t exactly know what it translates to, because he used it often and sometimes I think saying “what” in some situations wouldn’t quite make sense. but while I was in 서울 he high school kids used what they called “secret language” too. I think it’s more like slang though. Some other words that I learned were the slang words for elementary student, middle school student and so on. they took the normal 초등학생 and turned it into just 초딩.It’s the same for all the others: 중딩, 고딩.I don’t know if 대딩 works but it seems like it should. My cousin used this word when describing his friend, who he said used 초딩말 which is like elementary school language or, like he talks like an elementary student. Does anyone else know any “secret language” words?

Stephanie on Fashion

What I noticed about the fashion in Korea was that most of the women wore high heeled shoes. The students, however, wore tennis shoes, preferably some ridiculously expensive brand name such as Le Coque, Adidas, Nike, or puma. I never saw a student wearing high heeled shoes. Also the students uniforms are usually altered. The girls that I lived (중삼) with told me that they gave their skirts to the launderer and asked them to shorten them, because only losers wear their skirts long, according to them.

As for the boy’s fashion, there was one boy who had one pant-leg shortened and rolled up partway, but when I asked about it, I was told it was just his own fashion. Boys in Korea are also more conscious of how they look, one other foreigner told me that she was surprised at how often they looked in the mirror. All the students , boys and girls, wore really cute socks with cartoonized singers heads on them or cute smiley frogs. I even saw the waiters at 도내누 restaurant wearing them.

Also my cousin told me that boys and girls wear the same clothes, regardless of whether or not it was made for their gender (and I know they do that here too, but maybe not as much). And I also noticed that when couples go out on dates or whatever they wear matching outfits, meaning they wear the same thing, usually boy style though, so like baggy long shorts and a guys T shirt.matching. Seriously. So I like Korean fashion better. It seems like Americans wear ugly clothes. Sad.

Stephanie, generally speaking.

Stephanie will be back home in two weeks.  This coming week will be her last week to volunteer in the school, so she got many gifts from the children she’s been around. Her favorite foods in Korea are 삼겹살, and 장어 샤브샤브 so far (I’m not really sure what that is but I guess it is popular among the people she is hanging out with).

Last week she went to the market place and saw a 아줌마 killing (filleting) a big live fish on the cutting board. That was really was an interesting sight for Stephanie. She said that the fish didn’t die until the 아줌마 cut the other parts too.  She sent a video but it was broken so I can only tease you with her description. Sorry.

She wanted to buy 상 (table) and 가스레인지 for 삼겹살 요리. She thought it would be cool to sit on the 방석 on the floor and cook 삼겹살 on the 가스레인지. We have one of those 가스레인지 and a 돌반 but we haven’t used it in quite some time. We had some friends over and used it for dinner a while back, thinking it would be cool; they thought it was very 촌스럽다.

Stephanie has been very busy so I really don’t get too much news from her. This coming week after she finishes up her lessons at school she will be headed for 부산 to visit some family. She will probably be doing some other touring as well before heading up to 서울. I will keep you posted.

Rainy Season

Stephanie says it is raining every day and she feels like she is in a 찜질방 all of the time. I am not sure if she likes the weather in Korea or not but she is not complaining about it. Sometimes she mentions that she would prefer to live in Korea. She is getting better at teaching English and the children like her a lot. They like her so much that someone made off with her shoes the other day. I understand that this is a common problem at this particular school because everyone wears expensive shoes. Hers were Converse. She was happy to get the opportunity to go shopping. She picked up some Adidas shoes to replace her Converse.

She admits to having caught 공주병. She says we won’t like her when she comes home because she is so spoiled… She has three more weeks to go… She has settled into a routine that includes some late-night studying of her own. She has been studying Korean quite a bit (I sent her with a mp3 player full of KClass lessons). When she IMs with her mother her Korean typing is pretty good. It makes me wonder how much texting she is doing in Korean…

She had the opportunity to go yachting last week. I don’t think that is helping her with her condition (공주병) but it sure sounds fun. I wonder if she got seasick. She didn’t say. It was probably a nice break from the rainy season weather though. The humidity is the worst part of rainy season. I recall times when it was sunny one minute and before you could get your umbrella up you were wet from the rain. But then the sun would come out again and heat up all that moisture on the ground and create a sauna. Yes, that is Korea in the summer time. Life sounds interesting for 우리 공주님.

umbrellas

Stephanie on Studying

Last week Stephanie experienced some interesting cultural differences.

She has been staying at a house with twin girls about her same age. One day, after breakfast, she was helping to clear and wipe the table and the twins stared at her like she was doing something wrong. It turns out that the twins don’t do any sort of housework or chores. They were amazed that she would help (like it wasn’t her place).  She has noticed that the school children don’t get home until late and then stay up even longer doing homework. But they don’t do housework.

We have noticed with the children that have stayed in our house too, especially boys, that they don’t do chores. Now it may be that chores have disappeared from American society too and I am just a relic but we have had homestay children do chores here. In fact, the boy who just went home said that he was helping his mother dry dishes (but I think he may have been joking).  The “gentlemen first” attitude seems to be fairly normal in Korea, as opposed to “ladies first” here in the states. But Stephanie was somewhat surprised to find that children are not expected to do chores at all.

Another thing Stephanie was impressed about was that Korean children’s study habit.  She amazed that even seven to ten year olds would study until 10 o’ clock at night without much parent superivsion, and that middle school students (중3) wouldn’t get home from 학원 until after 11:00pm. She really has a hard time understanding how they do it every day.

One parent wanted Stephanie and her son to go out to the movies together; he is one year younger than her. Stephanie thought that is felt like a “date” and it worried her a little. We had to explain that it wasn’t a date, just that his mother wanted him to get some more opportunities to practic his English.

Despite all that she really enjoys life in Korea. This past week she has gone to 노래방, made 김밥, had 산낙지 and 개불, and taken a tour on a sailboat. I think she is doing so many things that she doesn’t have much time to fill us in on everything.

Stephanie Teaching English

I am going to try to get Stephanie to post about her trip experiences. Here are some of her thoughts about teaching English in Korea: 

So, after I got out of the hospital (the surgery went great, actually, the IV hurt more than the surgery itself) I went back to teaching little kids at the elementary school. They all stared at me like I belonged in a zoo and when I spoke korean they looked at me as if I was like a talking zoo exhibit. They all find it rather amazing that I understand anything at all. It’s really different how they all go “우와” when i say something in Korean. When our exchange students speak English, no one here (in America) is really that amazed at their “wonderous ability” to say hi and where’s the bathroom and I’m hungry.
 
So I had my first “class” with “John” who is 10, I think, and “Shell”, two students that I tutor. I had Shell, who is 8, change her name to Shelby because I explained to her that Shell might be a little weird. I could see how a name like Shell would be pretty in Korean, like 나비 or something but I have a Hmung friend whose name is Honey and her sister’s name is Butterfly and her other sister’s name is Angel (which is a normal name, but next to her sibling’s it’s kinda weird), and when you hear your teacher call someone ‘Honey’ it’s a lttle weird. So there was my American culture lesson. I also gave them some vocab words including ‘weird’ and ‘cool’ and ‘kind of’, because since those are the words I pretty much say the most, I thought it would be important for them to know.
 
Halfway through the lesson, this moped man came in (helmet and all) and delivered 김밥 and ramen. It was like exactly how the delivery guys in 궁  looked like!! I thought it was just some random thing incorporated into the drama… “Anywho” that’s pretty much the only cool thing that happened during my lesson. I also taught a few other people and sat in with some lessons that my aunt taught. What I noticed most among the kids was that they were all super shy. Like, they would say stuff but they would either whisper it loudly or whisper it in my aunt’s ear. What one of my students did was stare at the table while he was talking to me, and I thought that was weird too. I noticed that the kids who are not shy usually learn the best, or are better at English, maybe because they get more practice, or I never hear the full capabilities of the shy ones. My first lesson with the kids is usally just a “don’t be shy, lets just chat” lesson.

So, that is all for now!