Big Dog is Gonna Learn Korean

Discussion in 'Language Learning Logs & Super Challenges' started by Big_Dog, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Edit: Although I want to reach a high level in Korean, to begin with I am doing a 1 year learning spurt, which started Sept 16 2016. In this time I want to reach a strong B1, and go to Korea for 1 month immediately afterwards. Rather than rely on a test, I have chosen to track these items because they are quantifiable:
    • alphabet, pronunciation of phonemes and words - done
    • Michel Thomas - done
    • write 5 lines of text per day (on schedule)
    • text and type language in Korean on ocasion (on schedule)
    • anki reps daily with a cap of no less than 100 per day (on schedule)
    • Pimsleur (on lesson 85 of 90)
    • Korean From Zero! book 1 (on lesson 17 of 17)
    • 600 hours of listening (80 so far)
    • read to a level of 20,ooo known words on LingQ (600 so far)
    • 200 hours of conversation lessons on italki (not started)

    __________________________________________________________
    Original OP text: I have 4 big languages left on my lifetime must-learn hit list. Portuguese, Italian, German and Korean. Of course there are others I want to learn, but those 4 are the most important to me.

    I’ve been dying to start Korean now for 2 or 3 years. I’ve got lots of reasons, as usual…I never lack motivation. Maybe most importantly, I know it will take a long time to reach C1, which is my goal. Probably more than 5 years. I’m not getting any younger, so if I want to enjoy the language before I kick the bucket, I need to start soon. How soon depends on my Russian. When I can understand Russian TV shows 90%+ I'll feel comfortable starting Korean. It will probably be about a year or so.

    I’m going to use the Synergy method, of course. I’m doing my pre-learning research to pass the time when I get wander lust. Here is my plan so far.

    Step 1 – Isolated pronunciation and orthography
    Goals: Be able to repeat isolated words correctly after hearing them. Be able to read isolated words out loud with correct pronunciation.
    Materials:
    Living Language Korean Guide to Reading and Writing
    Youtube videos series TBD

    Step 2 – Sentence level pronunciation, vocabulary and listening
    Goals: Be able to repeat simple sentences correctly after hearing them. Be able to read those sentences out loud with correct pronunciation. Memorize the vocabulary in those sentences. Be able to understand simple listening material.
    Materials:
    Pimsleur (60 lesson audio course)
    Pimsleur transcript (I have lessons 1-30…looking for 31-60)
    Koreanclass101 podcasts (listening)
    Youtube videos series TBD (listening)
    Anki
    Dictionary TBD
    Google Translate

    Step 3 –Grammar, reading, writing, and conversation
    Goals: Make conversation, reading and writing ongoing components of my language learning plan. Complete a grammar course. Continue listening and vocabulary study.
    Materials:
    Italki Tutors
    Shared Talk language partners
    Skype
    Michel Thomas
    Living Language Korean Text
    Elementary/Continuing Korean or some pure Grammar TBD
    LingQ
    Korean Drama with Transcript TBD
    Notebook
    Anki
    Dictionary TBD
    Google Translate

    Step 4 – Take reading, writing, listening and conversation to C1/C2
    Goals: Improve my reading, writing, listening and conversation until I reach my final goals in the language – the C1/C2 level.
    Materials:
    Italki Tutors
    Shared Talk language partners
    Skype
    LingQ
    Korean Drama with Transcript TBD
    Notebook
    Anki
    Dictionary TBD
    Google Translate
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
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  2. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    Good luck BD. And don't be discouraged by the naysayers like Dr. Arguelles who says it takes 10 years in country to master. Or the dude who started the epic I Hate Korean Thread on HTLAL. That guy could write though. There are some priceless lines in his OP:


    For me, Korean is a language I was once interested in. I bought the Barron's course on cassettes, before FSI courses were available on line for free. I just kind of parked it on my shelves for later use. But I admit the discussions of the language on HTLAL have put me off from any desire to pursue it, despite the fact that I could easily find ample opportunities to speak Korean in my area. Besides the fact that is makes far more sense to restart Mandarin which I invested 3 years of college courses in, being in the same age range as you I just don't think I have enough time or desire to learn Korean just to be able to chit-chat in Korean restaurants or other places Korean-Americans frequent, nor have I any desire to live in Korea.

    I think I can spot a linguistic root canal without anesthesia when I see one, and I perceive Korean to be such a thing.
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  3. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Hmm someone who knows no French can hear the word boundaries hmm? Even if I thought the phrase was "junas akwa" for so long?
  4. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    I've a korean friend and she's said that korean is extremely difficult for the foreigners. But I find it a great langauge, and I love Gangnam Style I've laughed so much at this funny video!!! Their writing's system is great as well.
  5. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    > Big Dog is gonna learn Korean

    Big dog is badass. Take a bow, wow.


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  6. iguanamon

    iguanamon New Member

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    Opan Big Dog Style!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  7. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, I don't doubt it's a difficult language. My opinion is that the main difficulty lies in the grammar, regardless of comments like the following:
    I've read this a lot, so I've been thinking about this a lot, and I think I know the root of the problem. People are not doing the first step I outline in Synergy:

    If you don't do this first, be prepared for some disappointment until you have learned all the isolated sounds. Naturally, there will be more disappointment in some languages than others. Not learning them correctly from the beginning reinforces bad pronunciation, and if you can't pronounce it correctly there's a good chance you won't be able to distinguish it when you hear it.

    I understand that there are sets of vowels and consonants that are similar sounding to native english speakers. I will spend as much time as necessary to make all the sounds correctly, and will have myself checked out by native speakers. Part of being able to pronounce them correctly is to pronounce them distinctly. At this stage, especially in Korean, I will be sure that I can distinguish the sounds when I hear them too. This is going to require watching video, of which there are plenty of on youtube. I not only want to know I'm good enough for a native speaker to understand me, I also want to make sure my mouth/tongue/breathing are doing what they are supposed to be doing. A great help that Korean has is a straight forward writing system to tie all this pronunciation work to. So it may take 50 hours instead of the standard 10 to 20, but it will be well worth getting a solid base in pronunciation. After that, I don't expect to develop the same problems the posters above have.

    One of my many motivations for learning Korean is to prove once and for all that it's not nearly as hard as Japanese or Mandarin. The arguments about it's difficulty are so illogical that they have really motivated me. I'm ready to go now!!!! Oh…still have to wait for my Russian.:(
  8. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    I agree with your first emphasizing pronunciation and orthography for any language. The question with Korean from what I have read in the past, is will the materials you use also cover the range of politeness levels (familiar to you from Japanese no doubt), since the mumbling/swallowing/whatever seems more attributed to lower levels of politeness, and perhaps to male speech as well. This was the real put-off for me along with the fact that the politeness levels (who is talking to whom and who is being talked about) tend to hugely multiply grammatical forms.

    So what about Russian? Are you going to just assemble your materials for Korean but wait to dive in until you have brought Russian up to advanced status?
  9. Nobody

    Nobody Member

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    Well, I don't want to come off as discouraging anyone, but I'm at six years in the country, and I still haven't mastered the language despite using it every single day and even begin married to a Korean. I can comfortably read novels now without a dictionary, I can write reasonably well, I can converse, and I passed the TOPIK examination with a level 5 two years ago when I last took it (it has since changed formats, so I'll never get a chance to try again for level 6 on the old format, but I'll eventually find the time to try the new format). I can live in Korean, so if that's one's standard, then it shouldn't take ten years. But mastery? Competency approaching that in my own native language? I can generally understand lectures and radio content, but movies, drama, and live news are still quite hard for me, and the day when I can stand up and speak as well in Korean as I can in English is still a ways off, so if that is the standard, 10 years is not, I think, an under exaggeration for the average learner. In fact, the average learner just plain gives up, which is why I know so few other foreigners who can converse in Korean, to say nothing of sitting down and reading a novel.

    That said, Korean was my first serious foreign language, while Big Dog is a highly experienced language learner whose Mandarin knowledge should provide a sound advantage in acquiring Sino-Korean vocabulary, so I can believe he could buck the trend. In fact, I'm very interested to see what results he will achieve and how quickly. So far my own experience with Chinese tells me it's far easier than Korean, but that may be because I was able to take the methodology I built up for Korean over years and apply it to Chinese from day one. I also had a big head start with Chinese characters because I learned Hanja for Korean, so that circumvents a usual complaint, and my Sino-Korean vocabulary has helped with Chinese vocabulary acquisition.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
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  10. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    The important point about the difficulty of Korean from what you and others have written, is that it may be a language where one cannot make reasonable progress without being in country. If true, then that is what should absolutely discourage self-learners abroad who have no intention or opportunity to spend time living in Korea.

    Also it seems that the gap between easier media like radio news and newspaper, and movies/drama is far wider than with other languages. Whether due to vocabulary or other factors.
  11. Nobody

    Nobody Member

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    Well, for the sake of optimism, this girl says she learned Korean to a high speaking level outside the country, and in just a few years, though it sounds like her pursuit of the language has been very intensive (so much so that she was willing to get surgery for the sake of it?), and that she was able to acquire some direct exposure through interaction with local Korean expatriates. She says she speaks "at a high level," but I don't know what that means, and I didn't see any videos of her actually speaking the language when I did a quick Internet search.

    I think this is possibly true, though I'd put Korean newspapers in the "harder" category. I actually had a discussion about this with a Korean woman sometime back. In America, newspapers tend to be written in pretty simple English, while in Korea, they're written at a much higher level, at least in part because advanced Sino-Korean vocabulary saves space, but also probably in part because the average Korean's reading level is relatively high so the readership can deal with it.

    -edit: change news link.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
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  12. biTsar

    biTsar Active Member VIP member

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    Could be, but The Daily Mail ??? As an aside, that 'surgery' is something you can do yourself at home, yogis do,,,

    Sorry, couldn't hep myself...
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  13. Nobody

    Nobody Member

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    Is the Daily Mail a disreputable newspaper? This is a story I heard about sometime back, and when I Googled it for a link today, the Daily Mail article was one of the first that popped up.
  14. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    Haha, it's great! The second dog is so cute, I mean the little white dog.

    Yes, I think that it's little bit disreputable. it's a gossip newspaper, not a serious one.
  15. Nobody

    Nobody Member

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    Okay. I have to admit I don't know much about British media in general. But I do know the BBC, so here's a link to the BBC talking about the same story. I'll change the link in my original post as well, since I don't want to direct people towards bad news sources. Thanks for the information.

    I also noticed the Lingq fellow did a 90 day Korean challenge. At the end of his 90 days his pronunciation and listening comprehension were not very good, but his vocabulary was great. Admittedly that's probably at least in part a result of his reading-centered approach, and it was only 90 days, so overall I was impressed.
  16. Wise owl chick

    Wise owl chick Active Member

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    About the girl and her tongue operation, my cousin had the tongue tie operation when she was a little child because it was difficult for her to drink the milk and also some years to speak normally - her talking wasn't clear, but now it's clear ( she is 10 years) although she's bit autistic therefore maybe the talking wasn't only because of the tongue. It's a valid medical procedure I think, not unnecessary or stupid. But it seems obsessive to have an operation for speak a foreign langauge!
  17. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    There is usually a continuum among a language's/country's newspapers that runs from tabloid sensational to small-town to average bigger-city to the highest level of something like the NYT and the WSJ. In German the high bar as I have mentioned before is FAZ. Even now with my Anki vocab meter at over 13K, I still have to look up lots of words. The writers seem intent on using every synonym possible over the course of a year, and until you look one up and realize there are several other almost exact synonyms that are more common, you don't know.

    Re Lingq, although it is text-centric it also seems to emphasize audio as well when possible, i.e. the full range of passive input. If listening comprehension doesn't go hand-in-hand with reading comprehension, then that suggests that there is something different about Korean, and not having to do with simple phonetics and syllable/word boundaries, but rather with the way people speak as in swallowing/mumbling/etc. Which means one has to have an even higher vocabulary level than would be needed for other languages so that the meaning of unclearly spoken words can be deciphered from partial words and context.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  18. Nobody

    Nobody Member

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    Well, take an example from the fellow's "final conversation" at the end of the 90 days. It was mostly him talking and the girl saying, "Yes, yes," to keep him talking (not sure how well she actually understood much of what he said based on her limited responses), but of the few times she actually spoke in return to him, at least two resulted in what would be conversation-stopping failures in actual day-to-day conversation. One was when she told him to ask her questions in the future if he had any, using the verb 물어보다. This is an extremely common verb in Korean, and he surely came across it in writing, but when she said it to him, he had to chew on it for a little while before finally intuiting the correct meaning. The other time was when she asked him to say what he did last weekend. The first time, she asked him in the typical, minimalist fashion in which a Korean would ask another, and he was stumped. So she asked again using a slightly more wordy phrase, and only then did he catch her meaning. These were fundamental words that he surely he would instantly recognize in reading, but in listening, they just didn't register.

    The young lady with whom he conversed spoke in one of the most clear, foreigner-friendly voices I've heard; she was atypically clear in her enunciation and pacing, and also atypically patient at (and probably experienced in) trying to put together exactly what he was saying in a way a normal Korean wouldn't be. Reading tens of thousands of words in a language over 90 days, and then stumbling when someone clearly and slowly says things like, "Feeling free to ask me questions," or, "What did you do last weekend?" seems like it implies something about the phonetics of a language to me, but maybe not. Again, I don't want to be discouraging here; even if there is a challenge, it's surmountable.
  19. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    That's a good question. I think I'll start a thread about selecting a Korean grammar. Bottom line - I will find a good text and learn the necessary grammar in stage 3 or die trying.

    Yes. Hopefully I'll be ready some time in 2015.

    You aren't at all - I really appreciate your honest input; I hate sugarcoating. :p

    I'm just aiming for C1. Listening wise that means understanding about 90% of 90% of (not a typo) the stuff I watch. I want to understand Dramas well, but I'm going to use them a lot when I'm learning, so that should help me. I don't expect to speak it as well as English, but I do want to speak quickly and comfortably. I want to read well too, but I probably won't read much if any Korean literature. News, signs, short stories, subtitles, blogs, etc, should be enough for me. Not interested in taking any tests, but that may change in the future if I can't figure out a better way to prove my level.

    I believe you, but for me I doubt if anything Korean will throw at me will top having to master 6000 characters. That being said, I find Chinese easier than Japanese, mostly due to the multiple readings for most Japanese characters, but also due to the grammar. We'll see - maybe 2 or 3 years from now I'll be taking my words back:)
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  20. Big_Dog

    Big_Dog Administrator Staff Member

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    Now that's my kind of motivation!
    So what's your verdict? Sounds like low to mid A2 to me. And am I right to say that he had a very Japanese twist to his pronunciation of certain phrases? On the other hand, I think he made pretty good progress for 90 days.
    I don't doubt this, but I'm sticking to the theory that if one does the first step I outlined above, and which might be a pretty long step in the case of Korean, this problem won't be much worse than any other language. One thing that I didn't mention, and haven't talked much about in all my "Big Dog Method" posts, is the need to stay on top of pronunciation in difficult to pronounce languages. For example, I did a really good first step in Mandarin. Spent a lot of time and did it right. But when I started to speak, I sort of got panicky and let my tones slide. A couple years later, when I was getting serious about fixing my Thai tones, I noticed that my Mandarin tones were pretty poor. Strange that I hadn't paid much attention to them in that time; possibly due to the fact that I was just maintaining it at that point. So I got back on top of it, and started getting anal about tones. They were much easier to fix than my Thai. That's because I never did step 1 for Thai, and I abused that language for 9 years before I started to care. But what I learned from this is that not only do you need a good start, but you also need to do something to stay on top of the hard languages. I think check-ups every few months for the first few years is in order.

    I'm not sure this is what Steve did, but I'd like to add that starting to read before you even have a good handle on pronunciation is a bad idea. Reading mass quantities in this condition is worse. Listening a lot will help, but you should be able to produce the sounds correctly before going there.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014

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