Well, it has only taken me a little over two years but I have finally made the leap to join the land of the unmute. Monday marked the first of what I hope to be many Korean language classes. Being a language teacher myself, it was exciting to once again be on the “other side” of language learning. Our tutor’s goal was to speak only the target language (Korean) in class. Often having the same goal in my own classes, I well understood the purpose of this aim. Sitting at a desk instead of standing at the board, however, gave me a deeper understanding of the mystified and sometimes horrified expressions on my students’ faces as I babble on about the geographic layout of Spain. As we dove in to the lesson, I frantically searched for a pencil as I scribbled down what I thought I heard our tutor say with their supposed English translations.
In no time at all my two fellow classmates and I were practicing pneumonics and dancing around like kindergarten students as we rehearsed various sounds in the Korean language. We traded tips and tricks on how to pronounce things correctly and to make sure not to confuse ㅗ with ㅜ, or ㅈ withㅊ. I was able to ask the first of many burning questions about the Korean language and to properly order my coffee. As it turns out, 커피 (pronounced cuh-pi) is what I want as it means coffee. I do not want 코피(pronounced coh-pi) as that means a nosebleed. No thank you, I would not like a nosebleed with an extra shot of espresso. This little tidbit certainly explains a lot of giggles from local baristas.
And so begins the language learning journey. The steps are baby ones but at least it is progress. My goal is for people to actually believe that I have been living in Korea for the last three years and not hiding under some bridge somewhere being anti-social. Or, at least to successfully walk away from Starbucks without a nosebleed. I like to set the bar high. So off I go into the wild frontier of a new language. Now all I need is a Korean to ask me my name or to borrow a pencil to put into practice my new fancy linguistic skills. Look out Seoul, here I come!