Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sookmyung Saturday #7: Feeling frustrated

I didn't make it into Seoul early enough to do much of anything today.  My bus drops me off at Seoul Station, and I usually take the metro one stop to Sookmyung University.  Since I did have some time though, today I walked from Seoul Station to the University.  I happened upon a bookstore and browsed a small shelf of Korean textbooks (for English speakers), but didn't find one I liked.

I bought two long sleeved black shirts in the metro (there are often clothes shops and other stores down in metros) that I can wear under sweaters this fall and winter.  I found a stationery shop nearby and bought some fine-point pens for studying and notes.  They were all cheap purchases, I just don't like the spending!  And then I got take-out from a noodle place and ate outside at the University while reading my current read The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future for about an hour.  It's a good book, just very very long.  My kindle tells me how much time until the next chapter, based on my speed, and for this book it usually says something like "1 hour 42 minutes to next chapter"!

Next I went to class.  I got quite frustrated during class today; maybe I didn't get enough sleep last night.  But I need to take into consideration the situation: We jumped from learning the alphabet to the fifth week of level 1, so I had lots of gaps that haven't been filled.  The structure of class is also not the best for how I need to learn (but it's a free class, so I'll take what I can get?).  The teacher will give us the English translation for at least 12 new Korean words each unit.  So we hear them said once, and then we usually have to go around the room and each say a word of the list.  Or read all of them out loud, as I had to do last class.  That doesn't help me at all -- to struggle through reading them, or to hear people pronounce them wrong.  I wish the teacher would use the same time to simply read the words slowly and have us repeat each word a couple of times each.  Repetition is your friend.  We don't do enough repetition in class, and it's all so new and foreign.

Anyway, then she reads that unit's dialogue very quickly.  Afterwards she says what each line means, but that part's always too fast and I'm too busy writing and circling to comprehend what she's saying.  Then she reads and we repeat, but I can usually only repeat the first word or two, because the sentences are so long and there's only so much your brain can remember when you listen to a really long thing once and are supposed to repeat it.  Again, I wish she would break it down to just a word or two and slowly build up to the whole phrase.  So after repeating the dialogue once (or twice), she picks two students to read it.  Thankfully, she hasn't made us Hangul students (the ones who moved up to level 1 halfway through the course) read the dialogue in class yet, because that would be a nightmare for me.

(Side note: Rather than just being frustrated, I have been learning from these classes what not to do while teaching.  I've learned that more repetition is never a bad thing.  Interaction and varied practice are key.  I will keep asking for volunteers when I teach in my classes (no idea why our teacher has not tried that yet... I would like it a lot more than her randomly calling on me).  I appreciate even more my French TA in college -- she was so great!  Had us speaking in French from day 1 with lots of class/partner activities and speaking practice.  Point being that I am trying to gain something from these classes, apart from the Korean.  End side note.)

So I was feeling stupid and hopeless after class, but that will not stop one from going to the kimbap place!

Seeing that bookstore before class coupled with my frustrating time at Korean class today gave me a new goal: I need to buy a Korean textbook and workbook to work through myself.  I have been using various websites and things to try to study on my own during the week, but that format is not the best for me.  I've convinced myself that a good old fashioned textbook will whip my Korean into shape.

When I got to the bus stop to return home, my bus wasn't going to arrive for 67 more minutes.  I decided to explore the nearby Lotte Mart at Seoul Station, which I had never been in.  Picture something like a huge super Target (two floors with a grocery store) and tons of people.  I found disposable razors, which I'd been looking for (they are not at the grocery stores in my little town), as well as a bottle of red wine from Spain on sale for W 4,000.  I'd been told there might be a bookstore in Lotte Mart, but I didn't see one.  Before I knew it, it was time to check out and head back to the bus stop.  I didn't have a textbook yet, but crossing those razors of my list felt good (as did purchasing the wine and chocolate I'd found at Lotte Mart)!

I've decided that the Korean textbook hunt will continue tomorrow...
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