Questions I get asked often:
Q: I want to learn both Korean and Japanese. Which one do I start with?
A: Honestly, I can’t answer this question for you, because language learning should be a personal choice. Your reason for choosing a language should motivate you to continue. If you learn a language just because someone tells you to, you might get bored or demotivated. If you’re equally interested in both languages (and this can apply to any language – I just somehow get the KR/JP question very often), then consider asking yourself the following questions:
– Which language makes me most excited when I hear it?
– Which language can I see myself using in the future?
– Why do I want to learn the language? Is it for school, an exam, work, holiday, understanding music, dramas, lyrics? A boyfriend or girlfriend? Writing down reasons for learning a language can help you prioritize which one is most important.
– For which language can I most easily find native speakers and resources right now?
– Do I have people around me who can help me with this language?
– Can I see myself using this language for the rest of my life? i.e is it important to invest a lot of time in the language, or is it a short-lived phase?
– Can I start with one and then use it to learn the other? If so, can I find resources in the first language that can teach me the second language?
– Which culture am I most attracted to, can understand and respect, and can adapt to the easiest? Perhaps the politeness, perfectness and stiffness of the Japanese culture puts you off if you’ve got a rebellious spirit. Maybe you’re afraid of straightforward conversations and would rather soften things – then maybe learn Japanese instead of Koreans (Koreans tend to say things much more straightforwardly than the Japanese).
Q: What are some bad reasons to start learning a language?
A: – To impress people (they’ll get bored eventually and you won’t have a solid foundation to stay motivated with)
– To look good on your CV (as in, this is your only reason, not a benefit in addiction to reasons)
– A boyfriend/girlfriend unless you’re serious about staying together for the long term. I say this because many people have told me after they break up, they have such a negative feeling towards a language and don’t want to continue at all. People and situations change, and you need a more sustainable reason to learn a language than romance. This opinion is up for debate though!
Q: I can’t find or afford a textbook. How can I learn a language?
A: Lots of websites have free lessons (like HowToStudyKorean, TalkToMeInKorean, MaggieSensei, J-Gram etc) and usually go up to intermediate levels. Browsing the resources tag on Tumblr is handy as well, and you can always check out YouTube videos teaching the language.
You can begin by looking up the 100 most common words, as well as basic greetings in a language. You can easily find these online. You can also stream radio and movies/TV/music online and get your ear used to the language. Lots of podcasts also offer language lessons, like the 101 series online. Just keep looking for resources and you’ll realize you don’t even need a textbook. You can also get a language partner, on iTalki, HiNative, Tandem or HelloTalk (many more apps than these are available!) See my video on tips to have a successful language exchange here.
Q: I’m struggling to reproduce some sounds in my target language.
A: It comes with practice! It took me almost two years to get two sounds down in Korean, and I only got it once a native speaker showed me how to move my tongue in my mouth to produce the sound, haha! You can try looking at that, but if its a bit too weird or impractical, I suggest increasing the amount of time you spend listening to and speaking the language. If there’s a word you struggle with, listen to it being pronounced (on a website like forvo.com) over and over and record yourself saying it. You can also record yourself and upload the clip to hinative (a really cool app) and native speakers can give you tips on how to improve it. I’d say spend lots of time speaking to someone – think about it this way – if you’re British and move to America, the more time you spend speaking to Americans, the more you’ll eventually sound American yourself too. Same with accents in language learning.
Q: Are you ever going to learn XYZ language?
A: If I’m not learning it now, most likely not. I focus on languages I’m interested in and see a future with. I am planning on restarting Tagalog and Norwegian in the future though. And no, I’m not learning Spanish (I get asked this about 3x a week, haha)
Q: Can you teach me XYZ language?
Yes, I tutor through Skype. I charge $15 an hour and all materials are provided. More information on my services page. Payment is made through PayPal. Please message me or email me at email@example.com for an appointment.