Why Learn Korean?

This question is really important to me, as I try to justify the time, energy, and expense of Korean language learning. I know I want to improve my Korean, but I think it’s important to be critical of my reasoning, to keep me motivated.

Largely, I think it’s due to my strong desire to actively engage with Korean culture, which overall thus far I’ve immensely enjoyed. I don’t want to be experiencing life in Korea like I’m watching a fish tank. I want to swim around, blow some bubbles, lay eggs on some rocks. It’s been a goal of mine for a long time to learn a second language. I feel like the more I learn the wider my worldview grows.

I also feel like it’s almost the least I can do for having the privilege of living and working a decent job in Korea. I feel like a burden requiring staff to speak English to help me. They couldn’t get away with that here.

Altruism aside, if I do want a successful career teaching English, then learning Korean would surely be valuable at some point. As jobs become more and more competitive in Korea, it would give me a competitive edge. Maybe I could break out of the teaching industry briefly or permanently. If I work out, maybe I could model before I get too old. If I know double the languages surely double the employment opportunities would be open to me anyway. Not that I really think my Korean will reach a professional level, but it’s possible.

If I can easily engage in conversations across a range of different contexts, then I’ll be happy with my one year in Korea. If I can communicate 90% of my ideas and opinions, I’ll be happy. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some jokes. Even if I make mistakes, and can only half-understand dramas without subtitles, then I’ll be satisfied. There’s going to be a lot of new and specific vocabulary though. It’ll take hard work.

How?

I need to commit to learning, and have a routine, including independent study time.

But I don’t have the discipline to do it on my own, so I think committing my Tuesday and Thursday mornings to lessons at Omija Korean would be a valuable investment. Maybe once I get settled and comfortable teaching, I can up it to Monday through Thursday, if I reckon it’s worth the cost. Tuesdays and Thursdays would be 160,000 KRW a month. I think 3 months of studying Korean two days a week, then 7 months of studying 4 days a week would help me gain leaps and bounds. I’ve yet to find any other Korean hagwons or university language programs that could fit around my timetable.

Free Korean classes are also definitely worth checking out. These include the ones at Hangul Kongbubang, which may be Saturdays 4-5:30PM if Semester 2 is the same as Semester 1. The Yeongdeungpo Global Village Center and Ichon Global Village Center look closest to me, and it seems like they run Korean classes, I just can’t find any contact email addresses or information in English. Seorae Global Village Center isn’t much further, either.

Beyond this, hopefully I can make some Korean speaking friends who I would practice with. If not, then a language exchange partner with whom I can have maybe designated activities or chats where we speak only English and only Korean. Maybe we could each keep a journal, and when we meet we can edit each other’s journals and practice our fluency by reading them after. Talk to Me in Korean and Go! Billy Korean are pretty good free online resources (even if Billy is a bit irritating).

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