I woke up today and thought I could live about my normal life, ordering a ham and cheese sandwich and tomato juice but when I went to order these things all I could speak was strange English. I slowed down so the lady could understand me, and then I realized that I should say 토스트 not sandwich and 토마토 not 타매토 as I normally say in English. I can’t find anything online about this other than “sleep deprivation”, “nightmares” or a recap of Lost when the Korean character woke up and couldn’t speak English. Ahh, I have a neurological problem! No, enough WebMD. This entry is for those of us who are frustrated when we wake up and can’t think in the foreign language we are learning. It is for those of us without a medical issue, just a occasional brain malfunctioning.
So to combat my problem of not being able to speak or hear Korean when I first wake up I found a few things help me bounce back quickly to my former semi- bilingual state.
1. Review a Passage It helps to review a passage that it is written down several times and listen to your pronunciation with a recorder. This can help re-familiarize yourself because basically right now you are struggling with maintaining your mother tongue and your newly acquired language.
2. Talk with Natives with Persistency The first time I started studying Korean I really struggled, especially with being embarrassed making mistakes.
3. Just Repeat like a Robot The hardest words for me are the Konglish pronunciations because they defy everything my brain memorized as a child. As previously stated 타매토말고 토마토라고 해야 돼요. But I just stand like a fool in front of the counter and keep repeating until she understands like a persistent robot (or a broken one at that). Learning a language, in the beginning, is like the spoof on Dane Cook’s Speak-n-Spell (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYVgGsI2icw&feature=related) where you feel like you memorized everything with earnest and then you find out everything is wrong. The Speak-n-Spell was a great learning device and you could spell great but you “spoke like the devil.” So there it is…language is a never ending process no matter what.
4. Have Fun The more you enjoy it, the less self-conscious you are. My landlord’s daughter is 6 years old. The first time we played I couldn’t speak Korean well so she would get upset and cry. The aunt explained it is because my Korean was poor. (Thank you aunt, that was very blunt). However, now when we play she teaches me Korean and fixes my pronunciation and when she laughs I realize it is because my pronunciation is weird. I go home and think about why it sounded strange then I can usually fix it. It helps to have a 6 year old friend. Also she is learning English now and gave me simple but good advice… use the dictionary to look up a lot of words. So simple, right? Well, that is just that…just have fun with the language and look up what you don’t know. When you like what you are doing you will have better and more fun interactions with people and you will gain confidence.
For now…just memorize…everything .