iTalki Lessons – #100

Wow it’s been awhile now and I show as having 100 italki lessons completed.  Can’t believe I’m this far in with italki but number 100 you are now one for the record books. Some of the lessons have been trial sessions with teachers and I’ve settled in with two teachers but 100 lessons completed that’s alot.

It’s for sure a expense you have to justify but this is the most studying korean I’ve done in my years of on and off again korean language learning.  So I feel it’s been worth it and it also shows me how much more I need to go.  Skype video lessons have their up’s and down’s with technical issues sometimes but overall it’s pretty darn good.

My lesson scheduled for tonight needed to be canceled due to some pc issues the teacher was having and couldn’t resolve.  It’s the first time she needed to cancel a class and I only had one instance so far where I had to cancel a class a couple of hours before it started. So I sit here on a monday evening having withdrawl symptons because I had homework and now we can’t go over it tonight.  I start off the week with a class and end the work with a class too.

Guess it’s time to check out what’s on dramafever.com to watch tonight.

 

Getting caught on 종이

Last class my one korean teacher started off asking if I had paper and a pencil (in korean) and that threw me.  The lesson had started briefly and my attention was going to be in one area and she threw that phrase at me.  She never asked at least in korean before if I had paper and a pencil but it was the type of lesson where she seemed to throw phrases and topics I had not been through before with her and it was a braining draining hour.  Yes I got thrown off totally with the korean word for paper which I rarely have used before and heard less.  I need to let go of hanging on to trying to figure out one word that begins a sentence (if you can’t recall immediately ) and then of course when your working with only 640k of memory you basically don’t catch the rest of the sentence after that.  It was also a case that I searched my entire database of korean knowledge trying to determine what the word was based off the context of how she started the lesson and I was putting together wrong assumptions about what the sentence meant since I figured the word was related to the topic of the lesson and instead she was just asking if I had some paper and a pencil to write down some things she was going to say.  But she asked in korean and I barely have hit my terrible two’s as a my korean self.  I am a korean baby that is not even old enough to go to school yet. Letting your grown up english self at least sit in another room is a challange while learning because I’m good at figuring things out…in english that is.  I feel I spent way to much of my english self and my english speaking brain to figure out what my teacher was saying when I didn’t understand the korean and it worked sometimes but other times I just had to say I didn’t understand.

I mentioned at the end of class on her thoughts on when you seem to get stuck whether on a word or sentence because I feel my brain’s attention span is really that 640K old computers used to have where I cannot keep a whole sentence in my random access memory before it gets wiped out and then at the same time trying to process words that I vaguely remember and it takes milliseconds to determine if I can pull it up or just live with the fact I may have heard it before but it’s not solid yet in my memory.

I can tell by now after having 6 months or so of lessons that listening is a challange for me and my brain has the natural tendency to want to group areas of listening together and anytime a word or topic that is ‘unexpected’ is thrown at me it causes all kinds of disruptions in your train of thought.

It was a great night as usual as I continue on my journey as this accountability is something I was so lacking in my previous self study and with a real life person on the other end of your skype lesson looking at you and talking in korean alot…phew it’s a experience to say the least.  Love it!

Viki – Learning Mode

So I keep an eye out on the korean forum over at reddit.  Pick up some interesting things there once in awhile now.  Saw them talking about viki web site having a learning mode now.  I’ve tried viki website before because some video’s have korean subtitles but not as much as I would like.  I’ve started back up on a drama I’ve watched before ‘Master’s Sun’.  It’s a pretty good drama about a girl that can see ghosts and gets involved with a rich guy running a department store.

The korean subtitles so far well into episode 5 have all been there.  If viki keeps this up and getting korean subtitles on alot more of their korean videos that would be oh so great!  The only thing with it is I would prefer to turn off english subtitles but at least as far as I can tell at the moment it shows both english and korean subtitles.  You can actually move your mouse over a korean word or sentence and it will try and tell you what it means.  I guess this means you have to watch the video on a computer to do that but really haven’t gotten into doing that at the moment.

Today someone on reddit’s korean forum was complaining about fluentu.com and their korean content.  Yes I got my money back from fluentu and a couple of emails but I told them they should have a free preview without charging your credit card right away.  Also their korean section is basically worthless at the moment.  Great idea and I would love a well stocked web site like that but their implementation so far at least for korean content it’s not even worth considering till they build it up alot more.

640K Memory – Working memory

There was time Bill Gates many years ago said that 640K of memory for the latest IBM PC’s that came out would be enough than you would ever need or something to that effect.  640K of memory!  At my company which isn’t at the front line of keeping up with technology they now order laptops/desktops with minimum 8 GB of ram.  Basically 8 GB of ram because alot of people with running so many applications like Microsoft Excel need more than 4 GB of ram.

If you go back super far in the days of the first apple pc’s it’s working memory was like something 64K.  That was like a 8 bit computer and I was too little at the time to even know what a bit in a computer did anyways.  Now being in the computer industry most of my adult life my own personal computer have to have at least 16 GB of memory.  What a difference we have gone through from the days of Bill Gates thinking with a jump in RAM to 640K that you would never need more memory in a pc than that!

You see the RAM in your computer is the working memory of the pc.  Stuff is put into the pc’s working memory and swapped out with other pieces of information at a crazy rate. Our brains too have a working memory type of setup also which I’ve read about.  How much can we hold into our own working memory while learning another language.  I know while listening and talking korean my working memory seems to be not like that 640K that impressed Bill gates in the 80’s but rather like the Apple II.Apple__II

Because I usually have ‘korean only’ class on friday nights its a fun way to end the work week.  I say a word…get it wrong and continue the sentence and then a couple of seconds later the teacher is saying the sentence back to me and I’m like is that because she’s correcting me?  What did I say?  Then I’m like oh I did say it wrong but alot of times I can’t even remember exactly what I just said or said wrong.  Yes not remember.  Did I say a word wrong?  What did I do wrong?  Can you repeat that please is something I say lot but I do say it in korean at least.

This limited working memory condition is something I encounter alot while listening to a sentence and forgetting by the time the teacher gets to the end of the sentence what the first part of the sentence was!  Yes alot.  Your focus is like that small 1 cm of window with your attention and as it is moved through a whole line of korean while you are listening I notice I forget alot of the content of what was said.  Yes it could be that I didn’t understand a part of the sentence or word or something but your working memory when learning another language is very small.  At least for me.  I notice it so much more with working with teachers on italki.com because in self-study I would either read something alot over and over or listen to something a number of times but when you have a real life person talking to you in another language your both ON and attention focused but at the same time working with the same amount of memory as that 8 bit pc that could display graphic’s at best that looked like the one below.

images

I need to get out of the K’s for memory and into the GB’s!

 

Friday Nights

So been scheduling alot of my friday nights to be a class with a teacher through italki.com that does the class all in Korean.  I still don’t even feel like I have the motions like I should preparing for friday night but I still continue with this scheduling.  It’s a fitting way to end the week with a hour that flies by like a snap of your fingers.  Your on during that time but I must say also tiring as it takes alot of mental energy.

The teacher is very nice and believes the methodology of teaching you a language through the same language your learning is the most effective route.  I don’t know if it is but I have put it into my scheduling and I find it at the very least a wakeup call of just how well your korean language learning is going.

The teachers starts out with say around 15 minutes of conversion asking you things and of course you answering back or trying to answer back in korean.  Then based off some training materials, one of which is ‘Active Korean’ text book series which I happened to have the first edition of the series in my korean language learning library,  she goes through the material and exercises all in korean.  Then alittle summary of sorts along with things you should do to prepare for next time for the last few minutes.  I usually only know we are near the end if I peek at the clock.  Most of the classes I would be so wired it was only when she was saying things like good bye in korean and starting to wave I knew the class was over.  That was very funny because I couldn’t stop telling the wife how fast that hour went.

Now that I’ve done this a few times so to speak I’m little more relaxed on friday night but it still is such an interesting experience of at least an hour totally in the korean language. That is how I usually spend my friday nights now.  No going out, taking the wife to a nice restaurant or stuff.  A brief totally immersive hour in the korean language.  It’s great!

 

italki – progress

Well I seem to be in a routine with a couple of teachers at italki and I have one main one that I study with twice a week.  Italki is a great platform for hooking up students with either professional level teachers or community level tutors.

I would like the time and of course money to try others because it’s a great resource when your a busy working professional and how I wish I would have started sooner.  I’ve hit the 75th lesson today and I found my primary teacher I’m using around the October time frame of last year.

The classes are adding up but I’m really glad to have the teaching and also the accountability that sometimes at least for me as mainly a self studying student never really had or at least didn’t put on myself.  I can’t hide and pretend I know something as you can do alot when your studying by yourself so I’m glad I’ve gotten into the italki community and finding some teachers who I think are goddesses (both my teachers are women) with patience so bless them because it would be funny if I were teaching english to others that wanted to learn whether I myself would have that ability to teach english and see the frustation of something learning a language you are a native level speaker in and have that understanding and patience a really good language teacher should have.

I was trying to explain to my wife who wanted to send a message to my sister yesterday for her birthday (aren’t we lazy here in the US and use facebook and other ways to wish someone a happy birthday) so I was asked how to spell my sister’s name.

Hmmm…..well I said I guess it’s what you call her.  My sister’s name is Debra but I would call her Deb or Debby (but then again you could spell it Debbie) and that’s kind of short for Debra which is how my father addresses her and the long formal way is Deborah which is her birth name.  Wow I thought to myself for one american name this sounds really confusing trying to explain to someone just asking me how to spell a female name like that and they’re all related and different people call her different instances of the Debra name.  Jeezzz english is really confusing at times.

교회

So today is Sunday and the wife and myself have been going to a korean church now pretty much every sunday for a number of months now.  She wanted to start going and I have just a small amount of experience with churches since my family didn’t really get involved too much with churches when I was growing up.

It’s a smaller amount of people in this congregation of a korean based church outside of chicago that also shares their space with two other churches for different countries.

So it’s a ‘new’ experience for me just going to a church every weekend just in itself but the fact that it’s 100% korean for the most part (some english on the lyrics ) it’s the exposure to an all korean environment that at times I can drift off with my attention.  I’m an adult full blown into learning korean but still deal with the issue of ‘comprehensible input’ and for the most part a good majority is not comprehensible at real speed.  I don’t have a good grasp of church proceedings to begin with so it’s tough at times trying to figure out how to utilize this time for both religious and language learning sides of the equation.  So I dealt with drifting off and daydreaming today.  Not good but is the reality of what happened today.

Some of the people there have been extremely nice and we are fortunate in their kindness as I sit through a majority of it without know much about what is actually going on.  The head on realization of your korean language level and how low it is as opposed to how you would like to think it is or should be after long attempts at learning korean is something to deal with all on it’s own I think.

It will be nice if I can get to point later this year that I can understand at least sections of the sermon as opposed to today they had a guest speaker that is spending much of his time at a church in Russia but I didn’t know anything about it till on the drive home the wife explained to me what the pastor was speaking on.  Korean, English(we spoke briefly after the end of the service) and trying to learn Russian for this gentlemen and his wife.  That’s a very interesting speech I missed out on today due to lack of understanding and attention focus problems.

I spoke briefly with the pastor of the church on whether his children are fluent in korean as they are raised here in the states and go to school here so they are that flip flop of children of korean speakers and are more fluent in english than korean but he uses korean in the house so they will speak korean as they get older.  Good to see that and hope them all the best as the pastor has been very kind and understanding with a new member of his congregation that is the only american in it.

Korean_Church