It seems learning any language is full of times of triumph and sucesss mixed with valleys of despair and failure. Perhaps on way we can see our progress is by the frequency of both — as we progress we should see more successes. However, as we participate more and more as an insider in a language’s community we will also see more failures as we find ourselves in more and more varied situations with different kinds of people.
Yesterday was one of those days. I went to the hospital to explain several days of fever, headache, earache and nausea and some kind of drug. In the past I’ve often found it hard to speak Korean to doctors — often their English is quite good and they want to practice it and often they know more medical words then I would. However this time I did everything in Korean — talk to the lady at the desk, give my identity number to the nurse and talk to the doctor in Korean. He talked completely in Korean as well . . . so I was quite pleased. A triumph. Not only can I explain a whole bunch of symptoms to a doctor and ask about the medication, I was also at a high enough level that I could keep him from switching to English when he was speaking with me.
But hard after this triumph of success came a depressing reminder that I still have loads to study and learn. Three 2nd graders came to my classroom to chat and hang out. I always love it when students come by and its always fun chatting together or showing them Photobooth on my macbook pro — they can’t get enough taking pictures with different effects. This time though several times when I said something in what I thought was Korean they would ask me to say it again, “Please speak to us in Korean.” Hehe, I thought the sentence I had said was in Korean. Only after I rephrased it or said it slowly would they understand me.
Obviously I need to keep on working on pronunciation and intonation. I tend to want to speak very fast and slur at the end, especially if I’m happy, excited, or relaxed. This causes me trouble in English — and friends who are not used to fast speakers often have to ask me to repeat. Obviously its carrying into Korean. It’s wonderful to be able to mutter in Korean. . . but the reason I’m learning is for communication. 앞으로 더 열심히 공부해야 될 것 같아요. 화이팅!