I had thought that I would start speaking Korean quickly. I was wrong. 10 months later, I have still been basically mute. To write a sentence takes me 10 minutes. To speak, a near impossibility. I told my language exchange partner Seongil that I hoped to have a 15 minute conversation with him in April, and I could tell he thought “no way.” This is a perfectly reasonable assumption, since I have hardly said 2 words in a row to him in Korean in the 10 months he has known me.
Then again, Seongil is impatient and my Korean pains his ears with poor pronunciation. Yet, fear of disappointing Seongil has been part of the reason I have been so mute. I hate to make mistakes in front of him.
So today, when I met someone new, and she coaxed Korean out of me, I was amazed. A miracle.
It was still a mixed bag of Korean with English to explain what I was trying to say. My comprehension of her was almost nil. Listening, it turns out, is my weakest language skill. Still. Let me bask in the moment. I spoke. I was understood. There were complete sentences longer than one word. Wow.
We are not talking about brilliant conversation. She asked me to tell her something about Russia. I came up with “Russia is big”. Haha. Asked about China, I said that is where Hanja characters come from. Well, that is a bit more intelligent. Asked about Korea, I glowed happily while saying “that’s where my friends live” and then made a couple of sentences in a row talking about Dohwan and Chulmoon.
We talked about the weather. It is what I practice the most.
We talked about countries. I blamed Hollywood always making Russians the bad guys in films for why Russians don’t like Americans. Haha.
I tried to explain that my ancestors had lived in Massachusetts for 400 years, which is a pretty complex sentence for me, but with some coaxing, we got there eventually.
We talked about travel, and how I have only traveled to Paris in my dreams. I rattled off countries I have traveled to, and that I have not been to Korea. Before I knew it, half an hour was done.
Now, I am the same girl who just 3 days ago couldn’t manage more than 3 sentences in Korean with my study partner. Hmm. Maybe I just need the right person who can prompt me with forgotten words and give me time to come up with sentences, juggling my grammar. I found someone with no idea that I’ve been silent-girl who just assumed I had a higher level of Korean than I have ever displayed before and gave me plenty of encouragement for every sentence made. Gosh, that was fun!