As I’ve said in a previous post, my “lows” over my
Korean skills lack of Korean skills often happen after a good “high”. A few days ago I managed to finish reading an entire manhwa (all 52 chapters) and though I didn’t understand 100% of it, I understood enough for me to laugh, for me to cry brawl, for my skin to crawl… I even covered my eyes twice or thrice and had to suffer withdrawal syndrome after. So overwhelmed with the manhwa, I even wrote a little review (or should I say ‘reaction’) about it. The longest serious and non-prattle text I’ve ever written in Korean by myself. Yes it’s still too child-sounding and have errors here and there, but I’m quite satisfied and happy with what I’ve written. If I’m more comfortable using more grammar and vocabulary I could’ve expressed myself better but nonetheless I guess I was able to somehow convey my thoughts pretty well. Satisfactory enough for me and my level in writing.
I am happy with my recent reads (a manhwa, a novel, and a new textbook). I learn a lot each day. And the more I read, the easier it gets. I was foolishly skipping in my own little cloud nine when I was whacked in the head by my deteriorating speaking skills. And I fell flat on the ground.
Speaking has been my weakest point. I think a part of it was because I didn’t begin my study “properly”. Not thinking that I would, someday, speak in Korean I focused more on words, grammar, anything, everything but proper pronunciation. Since then and until now I usually study with my eyes and brain. Reading, thinking, writing in Korean – quietly. I seldom open my mouth and speak. And because I know I am not good, my confidence in speaking is not that great either, making speaking a lot more difficult for me.
In a place where I do volunteering, there are a number of Filipino employees who can speak Korean well. And when I said well, I mean they can carry continuous and spontaneous conversation with the other Korean employees/volunteers. I also have classmates that went on exchange in Korea who are very good in conversation. The funny thing is, they would often ask me what is X in Korean or how do you spell Y in Korean and what does Korean sentence/phrase Z (especially when they are reading/writing something). I wonder how they can speak so comfortably despite not knowing a bunch of fairly easy words/grammar.
I honestly feel bad that my speaking skills are not at par with other Filipinos I know that speaks Korean. I used to
calm fool myself with the excuse that they all have studied in Korea and I haven’t. I don’t actually believe that one needs to be in Korea just to be able to speak Korean well. I believe that one can speak Korean well even if they haven’t stepped in Korea (same goes for other languages). But after I became an exchange student, even if it’s just for a month, I can no longer fool myself and use the same old excuse.
I want to believe that different people have different learning curves. That I can also improve if I will exert enough efforts. So I am patiently trying. But my patience ran out last Saturday.
Last Saturday I met a good Japanese friend who is good in Korean. Since my Japanese skills is almost non-existent and she “claims” she’s not good in English and refused to speak to me in English (She’s been like that since the first time we’ve met, but I know she can speak and understand English because she speaks to others in English. But she never speak a single English word to me. Not a single one! And I love her all the more for that!) we talked in Korean. I showed them around Manila – mostly on historical places. Lacking knowledge on historical terms in Korean, it was difficult to explain the different places and different events that occurred in our country in Korean. But it’s not only that that I was frustrated about. I can’t even fully express myself even if we were just talking about random things. There were so many things I wanted to tell her, ask her, things I want to talk about. She asked me lots of things and I want to tell her exactly what’s in my 마음속. But I failed. I just can’t. I can’t find the right words and the right sentence ending that can convey my feelings well. I didn’t know where my -더라, -더니, -듯, -바람에, -수록, -도록 went. All I know they all left me and only the -이에요s, -죠s, -잖아s, -는데s, -아/어서s, 갓같아s that stayed! 개다가 has visited me once along with my favorite -자마자. And as always all the -가다 and -오다 verb combination confused me to hell! I was both tongue-tied and mind-tied. Most of the time I can’t even finish my sentences. The moment she shows understanding of what I was about to say I stop without finishing my sentences. My word choices were not that great either! And don’t ask me about my pronunciation either.
I was frustrated and very tired as I try to rack my brains. But she said
one two things that snapped my patience with myself. She saw my My Name Is Kim Sam Soon novel and I told her I am reading it now. She said she gave up reading it a long time ago because it was so difficult and there were so many words she doesn’t know. She also asked me to tell her the story of the manhwa we were both reading because she still can’t finish it because it’s difficult so she just quickly scan through it and look at the picture.
She’s so fluent in Korean. She can talk to our Korean friends without any trouble. She can perfectly blend in as if a native speaker. Just like my co-workers. Just like my classmates who went on exchange. Comfortably.
What the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I speak like them? I can read a novel. I can finish a manhwa. I can pour my heart on writing. But why does my stupid mouth won’t open properly. Why do words just won’t come out of my mouth. Why do I feel so 긴장하다 and my thoughts turn into a bowl of 비빔밥 whenever I need to speak up.
And for the first time I cried over my Korean skills.
I must be doing something wrong. Why am I the only one like this? I should do something about this. But until now I don’t know what to do.
I tried convincing myself that I’ve improved a lot already. 2 and a half years ago, when I first met her, my Japanese friend, we barely talk. A few words. A few short sentences. Some signs. And a lot of smiles. And now we were able to finally talk. I should be grateful. I should be happy. Well I am. But that was 2 and a half years ago! Yes I’m glad I made an improvement. But if that was 2 years ago, I should’ve been way better than how I was last Saturday!
I felt so sad sending my friend away. I’ll miss her. And I also hated myself because there were really lots and lots and lots of things I wanted to tell her. We talked about many things and I discovered that we have similar opinions on several issues we are both facing. I want to tell her my experiences and my feelings. I really wanted to open my heart to her the way she did to me. But I wasn’t able to. I wanted to hit my stupid mouth!
But no, not giving up of course! Darn, no! After crying last Saturday on my way home, I promised myself that the next time I’ll see my friend, I’ll be able to express myself well! Although I don’t know yet how I can improve my speaking skills, I’ll find a way. Maybe I should start listening to radios? Korean podcasts? Start an audio blog? Get a language partner?
아는 방법을 알려주세요~