Learning any language involves learning how to tell stories in that language. I noticed several months ago that I couldn’t tell stories well and when I did I told them more or less the way an American using English would tell them and not like my friends in my Korean Bible study sharing group.

Eventually I realised I had to learn everything all over again. I had to learn to start stories, how to fill the space when I’m thinking, how to connect ideas and events, and also how to fill the space when I was thinking and rephrasing my thoughts. In American English casual speech we tend to do this space filling with (among other things) a lot of ums and uhs. In a lot of languages these are not half so common place.

Once I realized I was doing something wrong, the next question was how to fix it. The strategy I eventually started using (and am still using) has three prongs. Firstly, try to listen to lots and lots of natural conversations with friends in natural settings paying attention to how they describe situations and tell longer stories. Secondly, summarize stories for language helpers, then have them summarize stories free style, record them, and then together go over the recording again looking for anything I didn’t understand.

The third prong involves finding recordings of people telling stories naturally. For that very luckily I found some stories recorded by ArtinStudy. One of the lectures recorded is really not a lecture but a poet telling his life story in very colloquial Korean. With the amazing help of listeners on lang-8 we are provided with the transcripts for the first two parts, which I’ll post in two separate parts here and here.