What is it like chatting with a Korean?
Let me tell you about today’s chat, to give you an idea.
One language exchange mentor will contact me on Kakaotalk when he has some free time. He is giving me a chance to practice using the Korean I have learned so far, and providing corrections, while also making some small talk along the way.
I will usually stop everything else when a chat message comes, because it takes my full attention to try to write Korean. I don’t know when it will come, so it is a real life pop quiz. I often use the phone for typing in chat messages while I look up spellings in the dictionary.
It is probably true that the same number of minutes spent reviewing flashcards or reading a textbook would be a more efficient way to learn. Chatting takes 2 people’s time. You will only learn if you are making the effort to use your second language. Revert to just chatting in your native language (which is SO much easier), and you won’t learn and you’ve wasted your partner’s time.
I am intensely embarrassed when I make simple mistakes while trying to chat in real time. Some how the putting in all into practice is a lot harder than passively reading about it in a book. Tick tick tick. The person is waiting for your answer. No time to dawdle.
Honestly, I experience a great deal of frustration in the chats. I am not quite there yet. 15 lessons of Korean Digital Academy should have me spouting at least simple sentences. Yet I find myself still muddled about 는/은, 이가, 를/을, 와/과, 나/너/저/그, etc. and verb conjugation is this new thing I am struggling with. Then my brain will refuse to give up the Korean word I am quite sure I have studied or I do some horrible misspelling because I know the sound but haven’t connected it with the spelling.
Here is the start of our conversation.
The good, the bad, and the ugly – I promised to share it all honestly. I make an inglorious start by misspelling chatting and using the wrong word for what time. Geez. I should know better. I berate myself silently, stop what I was doing on the computer when the chat message came in, and turn to devote myself to the chat.
We chat about him watching the American league series Baltimore vs. Kansas.
I take pride in writing the sentence “야구 좋아합니다?” You like baseball?
He responds, “예 야구 축구 좋아합니다.” Yes, I like baseball and soccer. I am glad to see the word 축구 from KDA class. I tell him my KDA teacher plays soccer.
He responds, “I see. 선생님은 몇 살 입니까?” Clever man. Reinforcing 몇 and asking me a question he knows I should be able to respond to because I have studied numbers.
I want to respond with the sentence “Rob Julien, my teacher, is 33 years old.” Not actually sure how old Rob is, but close enough for our discussion. Constructing this sentence brings up a host of questions about whether I should use Rob Julien씨 with 선생님 and if the name goes before or after teacher in word order. Then I ponder if I need 는/은 in the sentence.
I finally get a sentence out. I write a sentence about teacher playing soccer. I hesitate on the verb 놀다 conjugation. We just covered conjugating 아 verbs in class 15, so I am putting my newly learned language to the test.
Conversation moves on to the baseball game. I correct his spelling for Kansas and add the tidbit that state names will be capitalized in English. I make a sentence “I watch baseball”. Ok, not exactly sparkling conversation, so I revert to English for a bit to make the conversation more interesting for my Korean mentor. I write in Korean “Have fun watching the World Series”. The whole chat took an hour. I wrote 7 sentences in Korean. I feel wiped out.
Someone told me that they find at their level they do not learn much if people are speaking English. For me, no way could I even try to have conversations now if it had to all be in Korean.