Formspring promise keeping.

1) What has been your most successful lesson in getting your students to start chattering away in English? 2) Could you recommend any books for learning Korean? I have some but they're shit. 3) Are you familiar with KVP (Korean Veering Phenomenon)?

1. My students don't really chatter. I don't work at a hagwon. I don't even work at a decent public school. But basically anything that allows them to talk about themselves or each other is the way to go. Topics that they can't relate to are never going to motivate them. They don't even motivate them in Korean -- why would they in English, which is twice, three times, a hundred times as hard? Give them a chance to argue their own opinions or to tease and joke around with each other, and they'll find a way to get their point across, even if they have to do it in English. That's why my "opinions" chapter is my favorite.

2. Not really. I haven't found any very good ones, to be honest. If anyone else knows of any, especially those beyond beginner level, please let me know.

3. Are you referring to the phenomenon when, much like when one is driving a car and turns one's head to see something thereby also simultaneously turning the wheel in that same direction, at times Koreans will get to looking at you so hard on the street, that they'll actually veer directly into your walking path, and then suddenly snap out of it and look panicked and horrified, because now they are standing nose t0 nose with you on the sidewalk, while you stand there looking annoyed and trying to continue on your way around them? No. I don't know anything about that.

Or maybe you just mean the inability to walk in straight lines, or to merge gradually. Either way.

What materials are you using to learn Korean? Do you have advice for newbie Korean-learners?

Right now I'm using a pretty crappy book that I wouldn't really recommend to anyone, most especially beginners. But that's not my main source. My main sources now are the students at my school, who are always eager to teach me something here or there, the students and staff at the study room I volunteer at, any number of Korean friends, pop songs and Korean movies and dramas. None of this is useful before you've reached a certain level and are able to pick out new words within a dialogue. So the best advice I can give to a beginning learner is to get thee to a class. Even just for two or three months, taking a structured class to get you up to a certain level will open up a whole new level of "picking up the language" ability. Once you get through that beginners' blockade, everything becomes much easier. You start to naturally retain words after hearing them. Before you push yourself over that first hump, it will just seem impossible. The best way to get there quickly with the least frustration is just to suck it up and take a class for a couple of months.

Have you ever thought about moving back to the States and teaching middle school there?

No. At the moment, I really have no interest whatsoever in moving back to the States. And it's possible that that will never change. And I certainly wouldn't want to teach there. First of all, I'm not qualified. And it wouldn't really be worth it to me to do what I would have to do to get qualified.

Teaching in an American school doesn't appeal to me at all. Teaching anything besides EFL/ESL doesn't really appeal to me at all. I like the creativity my job demands of my ability in using language. I like making those connections with the students, with getting the students to understand a concept or an idea or a word, that are so taken for granted when you can just explain it in the native language. I like Korean schools. I like Korean students.

I think I would probably despise teaching in an American middle school. But then again, I thought teaching kids would kill me before I started it. So who knows.

Where's that asshole going?

Probably to meet his mother.

(A favorite passtime of mine and Mags' while he was here in Korea -- sit on a bench in a public place with a coffee and a pack of cigarettes and play "Where's that asshole going?" -- miss you, Mags.)

What books - fic and non-fic - did you pack with you when you first came to Korea? Have you yet found good sources of English books in Korea? If yes, where do you usually go? If not, how do you deal with not having fresh supplies of books? Thank you!

I can actually tell you exactly what books I brought with me, because I put a list right here in this very blog before I left:

The Dream Songs, John Berryman
Collected Poems, Frank O'Hara
Selected Letters: Volume 1, Jack Kerouac
Five Decades: Poems, Pablo Neruda
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Other Bible

English books in Korea. Obviously there are the Bandi & Luni's and Kybobo bookstores in Gwanghwamun, which have a decent enough (I guess?) English selection. Except, not really. And the stock doesn't seem to ever change. And Gwanghwamun is like a million miles from my house. And everything's really overpriced.

Itaewon is also a million miles from my house, which is where What the Book? is. Luckily, I figured out that What the Book? delivers to your door for free. And you don't even need a credit card to order -- you can pay with a bank transfer. And you can get just about anything you would want (although you may have to wait a few weeks for some things, if they have to order them from the US). And they have used books as well as new, so the prices tend to be a lot lower overall.

So yeah. I place gigantic orders with What the Book? every couple of months and I'm fairly well satisfied. Getting a nice sized bookshelf built up back at the flat.

In your time in Korea, have you come to know any Korean recipes? If so, what kind/are they? :)

I put a lot of effort into learning my way around Korean food and ingredients when I first arrived in Korea. A big part of that was a. getting comfortable with the food and b. getting comfortable with the grocery stores. And it helped a lot. Rather than just wandering into these stores and markets and wandering around aimlessly thinking food food food I have to buy food where's the food? I was calming down and looking for specific things, and learning the lay of the land much more effectively.

I can make:

kimchi bokkeumbap
kimchi jjigae
doenjang jjigae

And all the other store bought kind of stuff, like ddeokbokki. And probably some other stuff I've forgotten as well. All of the above is extremely fucking simple. And you'll notice a lot of it can be made without meat, because I don't really do meat. I'll eat it at restaurants, but I don't really cook it at home.

Of course, I'm pretty sure a lot of that would taste a bit strange to a Korean. I always say I make kind of foreigner versions of Korean food, change the recipes a little. But for other foreigners, I think they're probably close enough.

where are my poems? bitch.

Haha. I'm working on it, angel.

*sends strength* i've just been stalking your blog for awhile, and i love the stuff you have to say, it's quite amazing. and the kids' profiles ... i'll never forget that conversation you had with the boy who wanted to become a musician filling the empty

Thank you. And you should see the letters he's been sending me since. The kid's a fucking genius and way too wise for his age. He's going to be one hell of a man -- mark my words on that one.

I searched GFBR for both halloween and frog and can't find it. :( Please help.

Haha. GFBR never wrote about that in her blog. I know GFBR personally. In fact, other than Smalltown, she's my oldest friend in Korea. It was a story that was personally related to me, whilst she was actually still in the frog costume. Which made it that much more classic. GFBR is one of the funniest people I know, if for no other reason than the situations she can sometimes get herself into, and her ability to re-tell them with totally genuine emotion. (And no, Mags, she's not funnier than you -- she's just funny in a different way.) (I'm not allowed to say anyone's funny without clarifying in this manner, and haven't been for about six years now. My life is hard.)

Do you know why most Koreans have 3 names, but a few have only 2, or sometimes 4/5?

I don't know the exacts on all of this, but I do know that my students and friends who have two names tend to say it's "just because", whereas some I've met with four or five names have family names that are based in Chinese, and therefore are more than one syllable. Sometimes Koreans will take kind of Western names also, especially in the case of very religious families who will give Bible names. In that case, sometimes the names are longer. I've also had some students whose first names were one syllable and family names were two (Chinese).

And finally, Jason. You ever think about giving a girl a real means of contact anytime? Me addressing you publicly in my blog feels a little creepy, does it not?

That's not everything, but I think it's quite enough for now.


Kel said...

hahaha...if you are looking for a frog costume, I think GFBR ordered it from G-market ;) And if GFBR did write about it in her blog, you wouldn't find it now, because it was in her past blogging life. GFBR has only been around for a few months. Just sayin'...

Also, I asked the name question. I get the same answers, "Just because", but I figured if there were a more in depth reason, you would know. ^_^

Anonymous said...

As for Korean language books, I can recommend the Sogang University course books. They are fun, all the grammar is thoroughly explained, the vocabulary is really practical. The only thing is that I haven't seem them in any of the big bookstores. And they are quiet expensive (compared to the super cheap SNU books..)

Tony C. said...

On the question of "Do you know why most Koreans have 3 names, but a few have only 2, or sometimes 4/5?"

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_name

MikejGrey said...

So she's funnier than me?

Wakka wakka.

Sidney said...

oh my
i didn't even ask the book question, but thank you for letting us know about what the book?
i silently worry i will have to resort to reading things online/with a kindle once i'm over in korea because they just won't have any good english book stores.

MH said...

Re: learning Korean, use the University of Hawaii's Integrated Korean series. I have the Yonsei books, the SNU books, and have been using the Sogang books as well (and some other crappy ones that were recommended by a friend who clearly has no idea about how to learn a language). The UoH is, imo, superior to everything else on the market. Also most universities in the west that offer Korean as a subject use it. The whole series is quite expensive - you can pick up individual books on Amazon for about $25. It's still a long way from being perfect but it's better than the others, I think.

Also, as recommended by a friend who is at a very high level, pick up a book on the Chinese roots of Korean words. It's helping a lot with my Korean and my Mandarin learning. I have a good one that I've lent to a friend and can't for the life of me remember the title of it. You can pick it up in Kyobo easily enough.

penniesforposies said...

Re: Learning Korean, I would either recommend checking out the Sogang online courses, as someone else suggested, or doing the following:

1) Learn basic Korean grammar for day-to-day speech (ex. 뭐뭐했어요, 뭐뭐하는데요, etc.)

2) Once you know the basic tenses, buy a vocabulary book (I use a big book of vocab words from the Survival Korean series) and study a few words every day. If you have any benevolent Korean friends, ask them if the words you've picked out are normally used.

3) Practice the words by writing them repeatedly, then practice making sentences with them or changing tenses (ex. 새우다 --> 새워요 --> 새웠어요 --> 어제밤 새웠으니까 피곤해요)

4) Rinse and repeat.

I also have my phone ready whenever I'm watching a TV program, and then I look up words in my dictionary and copy them down for future study. This is what I've been doing so far, and it's working pretty well. ^^