Yesterday I had my oral exam in Mandarin @.@. I’m quite happy and amazed that I can actually answer simple questions and say some sentences in Mandarin, but a lot of times I just either want to whack my head on the my desk (hoping it would make me remember my vocabs) or just disappear into thin air, away from the sight of my laoshi, because of embarrassment. I was pretty okay at first, but as the questions get longer I started fumbling and everything that I studied over the weekend starts to jumble inside my head. The reading part was not, in any way, better. My tones were okay when reading individual words, but they suddenly just go everywhere they want when I’m reading an unfamiliar sentence (in pinyin). I have a tendency to just mimic what I hear from Audio CDs, podcasts and class recordings that I listen to over and over. Thus when facing unfamiliar words/sentences I don’t quite know what to do with my tones @.@. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I didn’t get a high score, but I’m happy that I probably managed to get a decent one.

Then after my exam, I saw one of the Korean professors in our university in the corridors. I greeted him and he initiated small talk by asking me some questions. My brain is still in a whirlpool so it took me a few split-seconds just to come up with answers to simple questions: “What year are you in now?”, “Are you taking a Korean class this semester?” and “When will you be graduating?” Our mandarin oral exam covered date and time telling so I’ve been practicing numbers and dates in Mandarin a lot. Thus when I wanted to say I’m on my 3rd year I still have to stop for a bit and think is it 학년? No must be 학년. And when I wanted to say “No, I have already taken all classes until Korean 12.” I kinda panicked because suddenly I can’t think of how to say 12 in Korean! Darn! So, I tried to save myself by just replying “아니에요. 다 했어요!”. And next year is not 년, right? 년? No? Ah 내년! O.o

I wonder what impression I’ve left 오 선생님. ㅠㅠ A student who have finished all Korean classes and is preparing for TOPIK intermediate struggles with all her might just to answer questions meant for beginner students. 선생님, don’t talk to me after an exam, please!


2 thoughts on ““Code-switching”

  1. Today is the first time I’ve heard of “Code-switching” but I think I know what it means. Switching between one language and another.

    That happened a lot when I was first learning Japanese. Of course my mother tongue (Red Hot Blooded American English) would take over. If I told my mind “No English!”, Spanish would pop into my thoughts. (Dios mio!)

    I did get a little bit of that mixing confusion when I was first learning Korean, because I was just starting to transition from Japanese to Korean. But even though the languages are similar in some respects, I feel they are mostly very different.

    You are so lucky to have a Korean professor who cares enough to casually chat with you. I’m sure he’s happy to speak with you too! As an English teacher, I feel my students speak best when they are not in class.

    I guess I’m not the only one struggling here. I’m here in Korea and will be taking a class this March. I’ve been here for almost 6 months! I haven’t taken any formal classes during that time.

    그러나저러나, 진심으로 행운을 빈다! 😉

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