The Giving Tree

“The Giving Tree” is my first reading assignment.  I know a few words.  The two page folk tale seems very overwhelming.  I am simply trying to practice pronouncing Korean words. To comprehend the story is beyond my ability, let alone translate it.  However, with the words I know now, I get glimpses of what the story is about.  Pictures help too.  🙂



What follows is a detailed list of some of the ways I am looking at the Giving Tree story to understand it. This isn’t a good process, it is simply the inefficient way I am doing for now. I am sure my readers have better ways to do it. Please do enlighten me! I would love to hear your suggestions.

Using a Foreign Text Reader

LingQ Using a Foreign Text Reader

I created a lesson on LingQ for “The Giving Tree”. I can listen to my tutor reading the text. LingQ marks the words I know (white), the words I am learning (yellow), and the words I do not know (blue). As I learn words, they go on a scale from 1 – 4. I can go through the text one word at a time looking up what they mean and adding them to a list of words I am learning. As I read the story many times, I will mark the words I learn.

givingtree flashcards

Reviewing words I am learning with flashcards

(There are some flaws in this process. I do not endorse LingQ, even though I pay $10/month to use it. It is simply what I am using for now.)  In this simple story, I have marked 70 words as ones I am learning, and some others remain in blue because I am unsure what they mean.  There is some guess work involved here, involving Google Translate suggesting what the word might be.  It is a level of uncertainty that makes me uncomfortable.  So I, the learner, guess at what a word might mean and then study from that material?  Egads, that is a recipe for mistakes!

In my inefficient process, I try to compensate for my uncertainty by checking several dictionary sources and textbooks.

The first line of the story is

나무 한 그루가 있었어요.

I know all of those words, so make a stab at translating to “There was a tree.”

Slowly, slowly, I chip away at the story.  I listen, I try to read it out loud, I follow along with the words as I listen, and the hope is that with enough practice and exposure to the material, that I will some day be able to read this story.


I can export the “lingq” words I am learning to a csv file, which looks like this:

앉아서,”[[“”en””, “”because sitting…, sit so…””]]”,단 5분에서 10분 만이라도 조용히 앉아서 혹은 자연을 산책하며 모든 것을 내려놓는 힘을 키워라.
없어,”[[“”en””, “”No””]]”,그녀는 집에 없어.
놀러,”[[“”en””, “”play””]]”,노래방에 놀러 갔어요.
가끔,”[[“”en””, “”adv. now and again,””]]”,… 한가하다 힘들다 Adverbs Korean Word 가까이   가끔   가장   갑자기   같이   거의   계속   곧 …

I can then import the csv into Textpad, Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.  It needs to be UTC-8 format for importing.  I long for my powerful tools from my programmer days, but make do for now with Microsoft Word’s search/replace and some manual editting to get me to a simple text list:

앉아서, “because sitting…, sit so…”
없어, “No”
놀러, “play”
가끔, “adv. now and again,”
아낌없이, “generously, freely”
주는, “give, do for”
셀, “count”
그루가, “tree counter”
나무한테, “My tree”
귀여운, “cute”
소년이, “Boy”
있었지요, “Did was”
소년은, “소년 少年 boy”
나뭇가지에, “from branches”
매달려, “hang, dangle from”
놀기도, “Also play”
열매를, “fruit, bean”
먹기도, “Eat”
그늘에서, “In the shade”
잤지요, “I slept”
나무를, “tree”
사랑하였고, “We Love”
나무도, “tree too”
소년을, “Boy”
사랑했어요, “I love”
둘은, “Two”
행복하였지요, “I was happy”
어느덧, “before one knew it, without quite realizing it (time passed by quickly)”
청년이, “Youth”
되었고, “And”
크게, “Greatly”
자랐어요, “grew up”
친구를, “friend”
만나게, “Meet”
되어, “되다 v. be done, complete, become, be, turn into, be worthy of”
나무에게는, “For wood”
놀러오게, “Come to play”
되었지요, “became, had become”
세월이, “life”
흘러, “adj. flowing”
어른이, “(1) a man; an adult”
되었어요, “became”
찾아와, “visit, search, seek”
남겨, “leave (a message); set aside”
놓고, “v. put, release; 置く”
베어, “베다 v. cut”
팔았어요, “sold”
그래도, “yet, but, still…”
그가, “he + 가”
좋았고, “Was good and”
노인이, “elderly person”
된, “become, be,”
너에게, “to you”
아무것도, “anything , nothing”
남았거든, “Anything left over”
필요하지, “Not required”
그저, “just, only”
편히, “comfortably; 편하다 to be comfortable”
쉴, “relax rest”
곳이나, “anywhere , somewhere , place OR”
좋겠어, “I wish”
쉬기에는, “쉬기 = rest”
이리, “in this way; like this; so”
와서, “come, came”
노인은, “The elderly”
시키는, “make someone do something , order , tell”
대로, “as specified , according to”
하였지요, “Let’s were.”
무척, “very; highly; exceedingly; extremely”
아낌없이 주는 나무, “The Giving Tree”

Now that I have a new vocabulary list, I debate what to do with it.

I copy the words by hand into my address-book-personal-dictionary.  The process of copying makes me look closely at each word.  The handwritten book is the closest I have to an “uberlist” of all the vocabulary I know, indexed alphabetically by A – Z.  When I started keeping the personal dictionary, A – Z was most familiar.  Now, I wish I also had a ㄱ – ㅎ list.

I will try importing the words into an Excel spreadsheet.  My hope is that I will some day gather together all the Excel spreadsheets I have of word lists to make an uber vocabulary list.  Someday …

I will also create a Memrise flashcard deck with the vocabulary.  Then I will make
“mems”.  If I haven’t taken a word and converted it into a picture with some memory connection to the sound, then I have no hope of remembering the word.  So creating a Memrise deck also had the side effect that I make picture flashcards.  I print-screen and copy them into MS Paint.

So to summarize the learning process I do now:

  1. Watch video (KDA class)
  2. Speak (class, tutor, youtube, limited with Koreans phone/skype, Glossika)
  3. Write (Mindpasta, Korean chatting Kaokotalk/Telegram/FB Messenger, handwriting practice, emails, postcards)
  4. Read (LingQ)
  5. Vocabulary (paper flashcards, Excel, & Memrise)
  6. Quiz myself (KDA practice pages, Memrise)
  7. Explore/Research (internet, books)
  8. Share what I learn (Blog, Mindpasta)

That means each time I get something new to learn, I go through this process:

  1. Text
  2. Audio
  3. Handwritten vocabulary list & notes
  4. LingQ
  5. Memrise
  6. MS Paint flashcards
  7. Blog post
  8. Youtube video

The problem is that I can’t keep up with that entire process and keep pace with Korean Digital Academy and my tutoring session.  It seems easy – 1 hour a week of KDA class and 1 hour of tutoring.   Something will have to change; I can’t keep up.



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