Intention and Results

What does it take to change intention to results?

Here are some things that help.

  1. Clearly define your intention.
  2. Schedule a specific time to work on the goal.
  3. Identify possible obstacles and solutions.
  4. Know why you want to do this.
  5. Choose a reasonable goal, based on all factors including finances, time, family, and obligations.
  6. If possible, devote a specified area just for study.  Remove distractions.  Set your tools in the same place, so when you sit down, you can get directly to work.

I set a goal:  Spend 2 weeks focused completely on Korean language learning.

Actual results fell short of what I had intended.  I’m looking deeply into myself to understand what happened.  I had a strong desire, but I let other things in life take precedence.  I’m not sure if that was the right or wrong thing to do.  I do know I made progress in restarting my Korean studies, but I need to apply more energy and time in that direction.

Rob Julian reminded me that the important thing is to keep making progress.  Slow and steady, that’s my speed.  Cram everything back into my head in 2 weeks plan was too ambitious.  However, it felt great to be writing sentences and even speaking to a Korean in person this week.  The passion for learning Korean is still there.




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Japanese garden path

Anyone who has enjoyed Japanese gardens will have noticed how carefully the pathways are planned.  As you walk, the paths slow you down and make you pause to enjoy a view.   A garden curator from Portland’s Japanese Garden describes their paths to the tea house in this informative video.

Here is a video that describes planning the paths and views in a Japanese garden.



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Hanja for Cimi: 民 people 민

Let’s see some Korean words that use 민.

 the people
 a nation, a people
자유 a free citizen
족 a race (ethnicity)
유목 a nomadic race
poor people 貧

Cimi smartly pointed out that some of the words we have learned are Chinese surnames. Mín is one example of a Chinese surname. A Chinese kin, lineage or clan, is a patrilineal group of related Chinese people with a common surname sharing a common ancestor.

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Frequently used tools


When I first started Hanguk Babble, I was on the hunt for any and all tools that I might use to learn a language.  I did not know how to teach myself Korean, so I was grasping at everything.  A browse back over the more than 1000 posts on Hanguk Babble will show you my scattered journey.

More isn’t always better.  I had a ton of ideas.  However, what has worked the best for me is Korean Digital Academy and having a language exchange partner or tutor.

The worst advice I was given when I first started is get lots of different material that cover the same topic.  Maybe the tool you are using isn’t a good fit.  If that is the case, try another.  But I would have made more progress if I wasn’t listening to so many different websites/language learning software/books/audio/polyglots.

I had this crazy idea that I wouldn’t find enough Korean material to learn from.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and wondered if I was missing something obvious and extremely helpful.  So I wasted a lot of effort searching.  I bought a LOT of books, maybe more than I will ever read.

With the wisdom of a year of language learning, here are the key tools I use now.

Korean DramaDrama Fever

DictionaryNaver Korean Dictionary

Korean Language BlogsTalk To Me In Korean (TTMIK)

Korean Class: Korean Digital Academy

Korean Grammar:  Korean Wiki ProjectKorean Grammar Dictionary

TranslationNaver translate

Verb ConjugationDongsa


Chinese charactersChinEasy,  YellowBridge Mandarin Chinese-English Dictionary

Language ExchangeMindpasta

Tutoring:  iTalki

Korean BooksHanbooks

Libraries:  Boston Public Library,  C/W Mars



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How to become a better Korean conversation partner

How to become a better Korean conversation partner.

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Language Exchange: Rice and Flowers

I would like to share a typical language exchange I had today with my friend Chulmoon, the organic rice farmer in South Korea.

I come off a lot better in text messages that I have time to compose with a Korean-English dictionary, Naver translatedongsa verb conjugator, and YellowBridge Chinese-English dictionary handy. These are all shortcuts on my PC web browser.

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Hanja from Cimi

As readers of my blog probably already know, my friend Cimi is going to China next year, so together we are learning a few Chinese characters (Korean hanja 한자, Mandarin trad. 漢字, simpl. 汉字 pinyin: Hànzì, Japanese kanji).  Cimi teaches me and shares resources, as well as me writing “Hanja for Cimi” posts.  Cimi is my language buddy, and we inspire each other, which keeps the motivation strong.

Here are some of the things Cimi has shared.

Basics of Chinese writing:

Chinese characters stroke order:

Cimi also sent me this amazing gift basket with facial masks (like they use in Korean dramas), a lavender and roses wreath she made with herbs from her garden, seaweed snacks to go with rice, and hydrating skin spritzer.  Language exchange can bring you closer to people, it is not just about the words you learn.



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Buddhism: 5 Precepts 오계

In South Korea, the lay Buddhist ordination is called sugye 수계.  It is a public ceremony where the student affirms their Buddhist practice by accepting the Five Precepts  (ogye오계).

The Five Precepts

I vow to abstain from taking life.

I vow to abstain from taking things not given.

I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust.

I vow to abstain from lying.

I vow to abstain from intoxicants, taken to induce heedlessness.

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Bamboo Breakthrough

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on followmybrushmarks:
After several weeks of concerted effort, my bamboo has got better.  Practice may not make ‘perfect’ but it sure can lead to ‘better’.  So, what did I do? 1.  hunt for bamboo in local gardens and…

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Korean prayer – repetition & habits

Every night before I go to sleep, I play KUSZ’s evening bell chant. Then I repeat in English until I drift off

Hearing the sound of the bell,
all thinking is cut off,
Wisdom grows;
enlightenment appears;
[suffering] is left behind.

I combine listening, reading, speaking, memorization, intention, and focus for 3 minutes.

Now that I am back to Korean Digital Academy studying, I also have Rob’s “Korean prayer”.  Basically, you take a rule about Korean language, and repeat it each night until it is drilled into your brain.  The first rule to memorize is about verb conjugation.

KoreanPrayerI am not sure when I stopped falling asleep to repeating Korean vocabulary and grammar rules, but it is time to start that up again.  Counting sheep in Korean really does help my speed of recall. 🙂

Picking up Korean language learning again is remembering my habits.  The habit of struggling to write text messages in Korean.  The habit of flashcards every morning, and then again at night.  The habit of watching videos every week, writing sentences out by hand, thinking of what the Korean word would be for objects I see around me, and speaking out loud as I practice.  The habit of white board covered with words I am learning.  The habit of posting sentences on my bathroom mirror to be read out loud on each visit.  This feels familiar, like coming home.


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What’s your excuse?

What’s your excuse for not studying, making progress, and speaking your target language?

Today, mine is that it is too hot.  Then I remember that my teacher Joonhee wrote “It’s toooooooo hot here in Korea. 너무 더워요.”  Summer and it’s hot and humid.  No excuse not to study.  None of the many excuses my mind is offering up are real obstacles to learning Korean, if my passion to do so is strong enough.

Today, each time my brain complains, I am just laughing at it.  HA HA!  You won’t stop me.  I am determined.

I wish my goal and motivation were clearer.  I need strength to resist my wily brain who tries to distract me.  I can’t be plowing through hundreds of vocabulary words just because I should.


My language exchange partner, who has put up with the worst of my Korean bumblings, is willing.  What excuse could I have for not giving it my best effort?

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Starting again: my language mountain to climb

“after a few wasted moments of despair, I discarded the negativity, and just got started on it. I stopped thinking about all the problems I had, stopped being such a crybaby and just got on with it.

Whatever countless number of steps awaited me didn’t matter. The way I got to the top was simply by focusing on making each step” – Benny Lewis, Fluent in 3 Months

If I am honest with myself, this summer has been a vacation from Korean language learning.  Now I am trying to start up learning again, and I feel like I am at the bottom of a very big mountain.

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Yushien, a Japanese Friendship Garden

On Amherst College campus is a Japanese garden. The Journal of Japanese Gardening has ranked Yūshien Garden one of the top Japanese gardens in the nation. Opened in 2001, Yūshien is a contemplative garden.  The $250,000 garden was designed by Shinichiro Abe of Zen Associates, Inc., an international landscape design firm.

Prominent features of the garden include a water basin, a 500-year-old stone Japanese lantern, and rugged boulders.


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Flashcards from Korean Tourism Organization #KTO_Korean101 #VisitKorea

Love the folks at Korean Tourism Organization. Have you seen their Korean 101 flashcards? Like them on Facebook to get these every week.  Brush up your Korean so you are ready for a visit!vvisitkoreaflash1

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Hanja for Cimi: 心 heart 심

Chineasy_FB_Compounds_PINYIN_Heartmind heart 마음

心 means heart; mind; intention; center; core; soul; spirit.  Typically, if you see 心 or 忄(心’s component form) in a word, you know the word has something to do with emotions or the act of thinking.  In Korean, it is 마음 ( mind, heart) or 생각 (think, idea).   Continue reading

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