Friday, December 6, 2013

How To Learn Korean (Or Any Other Language) Part 2


Alright, time for the conclusion of this series. Yes, you'll understand three words in the next Japanese porno you watch.



Now you finally have everything you need, but don't know how to start. Or maybe you have tried taking a language course at school and found it to be fucking worthless and a waste of $1500 to $2000. You probably think you can't learn a language because of how badly you failed a course you took at school. Well, sure, school sucks, but it isn't your fault. Time to get on to how to actually learn the fucking language. You all have your reasons (you want to understand your oppars in their songs or you just want to understand what the girls are saying in a JAV video [because people watch them for the plot, right?]), now you just need to get to it.

You may be tempted to use the textbooks as you would if you were in school. Don't. Just don't. We have been forced to use bad studying techniques from schools for all of these years. Do not simply read the textbook and do the exercises and think "Oh, golly gee willickers, I should be fluent now." 

The absolute first thing to do is to learn the sounds and the writing. For Korean, this means learning hangul and the sounds. With Japanese, this means learning hiragana, followed by katakana. With Chinese, learn the pinyin and the sounds the correspond. Do not make the mistake thinking that the letters used in pinyin correspond to sounds in English. Aside from Chinese, do not use any forms of romanization at all. Use hangul and hiragana. Don't learn either language through romanizations. It takes a very short period of time to learn the sounds and how to read them.

After that, you are ready to start the lessons. What you want to do first is to simply listen to the audio of the dialogues, with and without looking at the text and translations. Get used to hearing them. Get used to reading them out loud, a lot. This also goes with any example sentences used in the lessons as well. Even if there isn't any audio, practice speaking them out loud. Why? Muscle memory will help you a lot. Instead of trying to remember arbitrary rules and learning a language as if it's math, you simply need to practice saying correct sentences a lot. When you speak your native, you don't think about the grammar, so you shouldn't in your target language (L2). There's more about this here and the original video. You don't have to follow the method exactly (and naturally, adapt everything you read here and in the links to your needs). 

Something similar is the scriptorium method. Scroll down in this page for an explanation on the scriptorium method and click to see this video for a demonstration.

Next is using MCDs. MCDs stand for Massive-Context Cloze-Deletion Card. Read here for more about them. I'll give examples for flashcards in a little bit. Anyway, MCDs are great for learning grammar, and combined with each other methods listed above, learning to speak and write will be much easier. 

Now, those are methods for getting acclimated with grammar. That's just the foundation of everything. What about all of those fucking words you need to learn? Well, UCAAD, there's this software called Anki. There's a web version also available, so if you're at school and have too much free time, you can always use study. With Anki, you will also be using them more MCDs.

Okay, why Anki? Well, it's a space repetition system (SRS). With this, you're using active recall and spacing to learn, which are two of the most effective ways to learn. However, you should already know the information you put into the SRS, because it's for review, not necessarily for learning. That's why I suggested the mass sentence method (or any variation of it) and the scriptorium method. Use one of those before making MCDs, making your learning much more effective. Using the SRS will help you remember a lot more instead of trying to cram everything. For more on how to use Anki, read here and this article for why active recall and spacing are so important.

Aside from grammar, Anki is great for learning vocabulary. Instead of trying to learn from just lists, use something like Anki. The earlier you are in the learning stages, the more effective Anki seems to be (this is what I have noticed). Later on you'll just need to read a lot and use a dictionary, but Anki still helps tremendously even at the intermediate stages. Next I will show how I make cards for vocabulary, MCDs (grammar cards) and for Chinese characters.

For vocabulary, I personally just use basic cards instead of using MCDs like suggested in the MCD articles I linked to. I personally find it too cumbersome to use MCDs for anything but grammar.

A Korean card would look like this:

[front] calm, composed, serene淡淡-
[back] 담담하다

Now, why go from English to the target language? It is harder, which is why I do it. It is more effective to go from English to Korean than Korean to English. For example, if you see "담담하다", you may recognize it, but not necessarily remember what it actually means in English. However, going from English to Korean really cements in your memory, and it is easier to use the word if you're talking or writing. The Chinese characters are used as an aid for several reasons. It is much easier to learn words along with the characters because the characters have meanings. Secondly, there are dozens of cards in your deck that may have a front side with something similar to "calm, composed, serene", but you can't remember if it's 담담하다, 밝다선명하다or 평온하다 when you're answering the card. The characters help you know which one to answer.

This especially helps with Japanese and Chinese, because you are not only learning the word, but also the readings to the characters. In Korean, you don't need hanja as much as you do in Japanese and Chinese. The cards for Japanese and Chinese will look the same, but I'll post them.

Chinese card:

[front] cute, adorable. 可愛 (traditional characters)/可爱 (simplified characters)
[back] kě'ài

Japanese card:

[front] death; mortality; (Suru verb) to die; to pass away. 死亡
[back] しぼう

MCDs for grammar are similar, but they'll require some explanation. First, make sure you have read on Anki on how to do cloze deletions (which they're easy) and the MCD articles on All Japanese All The Time. I'll explain how I make my cards in all three languages, as they vary.

Korean MCD example:

I'll show what the front card looks like before the cloze deletion I'll show the front and back card after the cloze deletion. I also use the extra field for grammar explanations.

[front] 뼈가 상한 것은 아닌가 봐요 .
The bone doesn’t seem to be damaged.

With grammar cards, have the target language sentence and the English translation right underneath it. If you have trouble remembering what was cloze deleted, look at the English sentence for some help.

Next, here's the card with the cloze deletion(s):

[front] 뼈가 상한 것은 아닌[...] .
The bone doesn’t seem to be damaged.

[back] 뼈가 상한 것은 아닌가 봐요 .
The bone doesn’t seem to be damaged.

[extra field] -ㄴ가 보다: Seem to be. Note that the auxiliary verb 보다 in this pattern is descriptive.

Example sentence taken from here.

When you are testing yourself, you are trying to reproduce the 가 봐요 part. It's the same with every grammar point you test yourself on.

Next is a Japanese example:

[front] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいる[...]。
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

[back] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけにはいかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

[extra field]
らいしゅうはきまつしけんがあるからこんしゅうまつはあそんでいるわけにはいかない。
わけにはいかない= cannot; cannot but ~; cannot help -ing; have no (other) choice but to ~

You may look at that and think "Jesus titty fucking Christ, that's a lot to remember for one card. Exactly, which is why I would actually make multiple cards, which would look like this.

Card 1:

[front]来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいる[...]にはいかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

[back] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけにはいかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

Card 2:

[front] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけ[...]いかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

[back] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけにはいかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

(Note: Some people may prefer to make a card just to remember に and another just to remember は, as they are different particles. That's totally fine.)

Card 3: 

[front] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけには[...]
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

[back] 来週は期末試験があるから今週末は遊んでいるわけにはいかない
There will be final examinations next week, so I cannot fool around this weekend.

The extra field would be the same in each one of them. By breaking it down, you will remember it much easier, plus you see the same sentence more times, reinforcing the structure that much more.

For Chinese, there are several ways to do it. If you're a beginner, you can just use pinyin and English.

[front] Xie4xie, wo3 [...] he1 ka1fei1.
No, thanks, I don't drink coffee.

[back] Xie4xie, wo3 bu4 he1 ka1fei1.
No, thanks, I don't drink coffee.

[extra field] bu4 negates. Similar to "not" in English.

When you start using characters, you can make your cards like this:

[front] 我 有 [...] 儿子 。
I have a son.

[back] 我 有 儿子 。
I have a son.

[extra field] The measure word 个 (ge) is the most common measure word. It can be used in a pinch for any noun if you can't think of a more precise measure word. (Although you might not sound quite as smart, you'll still get your point across.) Also, for many nouns, 个 is the only correct measure word.
wo3 you3 ge er2 zi.

That concludes learning vocabulary and grammar. The rest is much easier for people to do. For reading, there are a bunch of things to read on the Internet and there are online bookstores. For listening, well, your music and drama addictions will play in your favor here. Just watch dramas and movies without subtitles. You're not training your eyes to read English at a faster rate, you're training your ears to get used to the language. For speaking, you'll be practicing a lot with reading out loud sample sentences in your textbooks and grammar books. After that, start saying sentences out loud using the words and structures you know. It's the same with writing. In part one, I linked to Lang 8 and Shared Talk. Use them. If you go to university, you'll find that there are a shitload of foreigners. I remember the first time I went to my current university. "Dude, am I in fucking China or some shit?" You'll have plenty of chances to talk with foreigners. Hell, the other day, I talked to a Chinese girl in Korean. 

Lastly, there's commitment. I have known plenty of people who were pussies and quit within a week. This takes years to get good at, so if you don't want to put in the time and work, don't start. However, the rewards are immense and it really is a perfect excuse to keep watching dramas, import RPGs from Japan (fuck you Namco Bandai and Sega for never localizing games), watching Japanese porno (if you care about the plot lol), playing Korean-only MMORPGs, etc. etc. You'll be spending more time doing that stuff because it will reinforce what you have been learning through your studies. 

For more sites and YT channels, visit the following:

Closing Thoughts: For the people who have read this and found it useful/enjoying, thanks. These two articles obviously took me a lot more work than the typical article I write.

Learning a language can be very rewarding, and I'll just use personal anecdotes. When I was in high school, I used to be extremely Anglocentric, thinking "every third-world fuck should just learn English. Why the fuck am I wasting time learning Spanish? Am I going to talk to the God damn Mexicans from the migrant rest center who work in the fields? Fuck that! If they want to earn money in America, they can learn some mother fucking English."

However, when I started college, I was finally old enough to buy shit online (since I finally had a debit card) and wanted to learn languages that I wanted to actually learn. The first was Korean because I thought "Hey, why not? It'd be cool if I could actually speak Korean since I am fucking Korean." The second was Japanese because I got tired of Namco Bandai's shit of never bringing Tales games over to America.

So, with learning Korean, I wanted to find some popular culture material. That's how I found Kpop and Kdramas. Obviously I like Kpop or else this blog wouldn't exist. With Kdramas, I saw some pictures of Song Hye Kyo, and well, I started watching a lot of Kdramas. Hey, if there are hot chicks in a show, I can watch them. That's how I started watching Jdramas because I remembered Toda Erika from the Death Note movies. 

With a decent ability to understand, I was able to start watching Korean and Japanese dramas without subs. This was back in 2009/2010 when subs would typically take 1-2 weeks to come out. It sounds weird that three years ago was a different era when it comes to subtitling, but it just irks me when fangirls bicth about subs when the raw came out two hours ago. "Hey you little cunt, I used to wait two fucking weeks for WITHS2/Soshified to sub an episode, so shut the fuck up." I didn't like the wait either, which is why I ramped up my studied and started watching dramas without subtitles, something I still do today.

Aside from that, I used Shared Talk a lot and made a lot of friends through that site, and I still talk to some of them to this day in both languages. I personally think that's pretty cool, especially just six years while taking my first Spanish class high school, I was thinking "Those God damn Mexicans should be learning English instead."

With Chinese, my experience is a little different. I started learning it much later, but I also took a class in college. Language classes are fine if you need to fill up some elective hours, but do not make them your source of learning the language. I mainly just used the class to ask the teacher and assistant questions and mainly studied on my own. Other kids bitched about how difficult everything was for them because they simply relied on just the professor in class and hardly did anything outside of class. However, I did get along with quite a few people, as you really are forced into talking a lot in language classes. In my finance classes, I hardly talk to other people unless I have to because the more I talk, the more people ask me to help them with their work and/or studying. (I was tired of having to help so many people in high school, so college was great in that regard since no one knew me. Well, I still had a lot of group projects, but still.)

Also with Chinese, I got to learn of Jolin Tsai. You guys know what I think of Jolin. 8=======D~~~~~

Aside from having fun, if you take your language skills far enough, you'll be able to leverage them in a career. I had originally wanted to work in international business before I changed my major to finance. There can be plenty of career opportunities for you if you're from a country like America where it's rare for people to know another language. It can be a path for you to work overseas if you so wish. (Go "work" in Europe so you don't have to work at all, right?)

There's plenty of benefits, so if you make the investment, I hope you enjoy the rewards, and I hope these two posts have helped you.

36 comments:

  1. I wasn't planning on studying these languages in particular, but the tips could apply to any language. It's one hell of a commitment, but the reward of being able to communicate definitely compensates for the years of toil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the MCDs can be really useful for European languages when you're trying to learn the gender of the word.

      For example: Das Auto ist scheisse, you would cloze delete the "das" so that you have to reproduce it from memory.

      Delete
  2. Gaspanic clubs are the best places to find Japanese girls that are ok with making a porno with westerners.
    Oh... wrong topic. sry pls delete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a black dude would probably kill a Japanese girl if they did a porno lol.

      Delete
    2. Have you never seen "blacks on Asians" JAV ?
      I do even recall somebody saying that there's only a handful of black guys in JAV and they are the only ones used for this kind of porn, so they always reappear.

      Delete
    3. I've seen a few, but I generally avoid them. This may seem a bit "racist", but it's hard for me to watch black dudes in pornos because their erect dicks just look like stiff turds to me lol.

      Delete
    4. I can understand that.
      I can't identify with them because of the skin color either.
      The same goes for *cough* Asian *cough* dudes with microdicks.

      However, I do like some black girls in my porn every now and then. It's just the dudes should be somewhat similar to the dick I have, you know ? E.g. I also don't get off on tentacle or other monster crap.

      Delete
  3. "Word of caution, this blog post is so long that even Kpopalypse oppar would say "tl;dr, shorten it you dickwad" "
    Wasn't expecting TWO of them. but thank you for the resources and links you have provided in both posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to split it up. I didn't realize how long the original post was going to be until I previewed it and saw that I wasn't even 40% done after I finished part one lol.

      Delete
  4. This was actually really helpful, for two years now I've been trying to learn Japanese through an online course offered at my school. Besides extremely basic sentence structure and learning the hiragana/katakana, I've essentially gotten nowhere, even though I got As in both years and completed all the coursework. I'm definitely going to try some of the things you've written about here. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I do know your pain. I took Chinese 1 this semester only because I needed the credits to fill up my electives (this was my last semester). What took the professor 16 weeks to cover took me two weeks to learn. I was bored as shit in the class.

      If you follow my advice listed here and study for at least an hour a day, you should know 5,000 to 10,000 words and at least be comfortable with all of the structures in the beginner and intermediate grammar dictionaries while also knowing all of the kanji in Remembering The Kanji 1.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for taking the time to write both these articles! I recently signed up for korean at my uni and I'm excited to start! I study Spanish and Portuguese and your tips about the cards really do come in handy for those too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and I hope the tips help you.

      I have heard that it's hard to study Spanish and Portuguese at the same time because they sound so similar to each other.

      Delete
    2. It's quite tricky considering I'm just a beginner in Portuguese and experienced with Spanish but not so much about sounding similar, they LOOK so alike. I mean half the words have the same meaning in both languages just pronounced differently.

      Delete
  6. ughhh thanks so much for this. I'm chinese american and after 8+ years of weekly "Chinese School", my chinese is still super shitty (pretty much can't read/write at all). now i'm 18 and pretty much lost hope. i'll definitely look into this stuff. this is most helpful article you've ever written, akf.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At 18, you're still young, so don't give up hope. I didn't start learning any language until I was 18.

      Delete
  7. Dang, that Glossika method sound intense! :o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it is, but if you listen to his Chinese, he sounds really, really good. I followed it to somewhat extent, but I never recorded myself and never did that part of his method. However, the point of practicing reading out loud many correct sentences is a lot more helpful than trying to remember grammar rules.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Great language articles, these resources seem like it would be a lot of help in addition to courses in college. I'm taking chinese in college and know exactly what you're talking about when being more immersive in language courses than normal ones. I also started in international business and switched to finance too LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, that's great.

      Yeah, I'm very disappointed with language courses at school, but then again, I have found that every course I've ever taken has pandered to the average learner, which is why I personally like self-studying a lot more.

      Why did you switch from international business to finance? I switched because I did a little research and knew that I needed skills to develop in the domestic market and that I could always get an MBA in international business down the road if I wanted to pursue that route.

      Delete
    2. honestly, it was a decision based on job security. It was between accounting and finance and i chose the one that interested me more.

      Delete
    3. Haha, I actually did the same with accounting. I was going to try to double major in accounting and finance, but after 4 weeks in my first upper level accounting class and going to the accounting fraternity/sorority/whatever the hell it was meetings, I knew I would really really hate accounting.

      Delete
  10. Does an accent lessen with time as you speak a new language? Being a Chinese person with a Valley girl twang is suffering. This is what I get for going to school with rich white people.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, to a certain extent. After you reach a plateau where your accent stops improving, you'll have to do specific exercises to improve it, such as listening more, practicing the sounds that are accented more, practice parroting native speakers. Hell, TV works wonders for trying to parrot native speakers.

      Delete
  11. This post was inspiring. Did you really make flash cards for all of that?

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    1. Yes. The MCD flash cards really, really help when it comes to learning grammar structures and cementing them. It becomes easier to try to use the structures while chatting online or IRL.

      Delete
  12. Stop reminding me what a lazy fuck I am! When I was looking for work, I dropped EVERYTHING to focus on that, but now that I have had work since May I never got back to language study. Fuck I suck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, since Hani speaks great English, it's not like you need to learn Korean. :P

      Delete
  13. A lot of these tips are simplified yet very helpful to those who aim basic to intermediate spoken (conversational level) and written proficiency.

    I might as well add some details with regard to language learning:

    As for fluency, which is a frequently-abused term, it won't be a guarantee for a person to be fluent within just 3 months as what http://www.fluentin3months.com/ claims. People process information in the form of language tremendously varied.

    Aside from that is your first language. Setting intrinsic (personal sense of achievement) and extrinsic (economic reasons) motivations aside, the elements of your mother tongue and the target language (Korean, Japanese or Mandarin, let's say) can either clash or cooperate.

    Some would say, though, that if your first tongue is English, an Indo-European language, and you want to learn Japanese, a Japonic language (technically an isolate like Korean), it would be difficult for you to master it unless let's say a Hebrew speaker learns Arabic which are both Afroasiatic languages and have always been in contact to have enough similar words and loans.

    However, like what Chuck already discussed, there are so many factors that interplay not only with regard to all linguistic systems, L1 and target language, that run within your brain, but it also includes logistics, time, consistency/length of exposure, determination/motivation and socioculture. Most if not all cannot be disregarded.

    When you want to achieve an expansive level of fluency (or near-native skills, if you'd like), a powerful and important aspect of language learning is constant exposure to the language not only in written form, but also in spoken. You can hear people speak the language through dramas and films, but it's most optimal to hear how ordinary speakers really speak the language in real life. You should be hands-on accustomed to the phonological and prosodic features of the language which is an impeccable factor to achieve fluency.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks a bunch for these articles. Weren't you going to say something more about Rosetta Stone? My friend already has it, and I was maybe going to borrow it from her to learn Korean. But you said it wasn't worth it or something?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's a waste of time. It tries to teach you "naturally", as in how we learn out native languages. The problem is that adults can't learn like babies. Besides, learning solely like that is wasting the advantage we have over babies: we already know a language, so we have the ability to learn another one much faster.

      The only good thing about RS is the "immersion" aspect, but you can do that for free: watch some TV/movies in the language, read in the language, chat with people in the language, etc. Why pay $900 for a shitty product when you can buy much better products at a fraction of the price?

      Delete