Korean Pasta?

I understand, it sounds weird. Korean pasta? What’s that about?

As with pretty much everything on this blog, it’s about language. Specifically, it’s a continuation from my most recent post and the question of what to learn first.

At the time I was dedicated to the idea of learning as many verbs as possible, because doing (and the ability to describe actions) is fundamental.

I still subscribe to that theory, but it’s only part of the story. More than one year into the Project, I am still struggling to put my learning into practice. Part of this is because I seldom find situations where I need to (or can) speak Polish, Arabic, Korean, Chinese or Hindi.

In addition to this, I am not learning as effectively as I might. I am my own worst enemy in this, foolishly splitting my available time and energy between five different languages. But it took a cup of English Breakfast Tea and a conversation to remind me of the missing  component.

This week, catching up again with my Korean Study Buddy, I asked about descriptive phrases, how would I talk about myself and my family, and how would I interrogate (politely) others about themselves. The year of conversation with my KSB has been enjoyable, but not as productive as it should have been. It’s too easy to speak English (his is very good) and he was working towards the English-language qualification for his permanent residency (which has now been passed).

He is also a qualified chef, and (with the inimitable logic of the business world) working in an Italian restaurant. This is an occasional topic of conversation (I love food), but this week it was also a Eureka moment.

When looking at the Korean phrases relevant to self-description, particularly involving frequent activities I realised how many could be tweaked and repurposed. Just change a couple of words and the same phrase can me used many times – just like Italian pasta. If you can cook 4 types of pasta and 3 sauces, you know how to present 12 different dishes.

Will I stop learning verbs? Definitely not. But what I will attempt to do more is to “cluster” my learning. Stick with a series of phrases and the associated vocabulary. Practice the variants – this allows for more (and more interesting) practice of the core phrases and makes them far more useful.

Much of this will be obvious to you. It’s obvious to me too – now. I just need about ten more hours a week to put it into practice.

This entry was posted in Grammar, Korean, Lessons learned, Uncategorized, Vocabulary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Korean Pasta?

  1. Mary DuBose says:

    Ian–Just need a what? What was the last word? My computer won’t show it to me.
    At one point in my teaching career I taught in a bilingual (Spanish/English) program. Since so many of my students were only Spanish-speaking, I had attempted, for about a year before the program began, using a three-times-a week program (twice with programmed materials and once with a tutor) to become fluent in Spanish–so I could at least communicate the basics to my first graders–here’s the bathroom, stand up, sit down, listen to me, time for recess, etc. And communicate the basics to their parents. Unlike your issue, I DID have occasion to practice, every day. The kids would laugh at my pronunciation and correct me. One day I was having a parent-teacher conference in Spanish–sort of stumbling through, but trying– and our conversation turned to food. I was telling the mother how I made some Mexican dish and I insisted that I made it with arena, while she looked very dubious about that. I was pronouncing the word “arena,” which of course is sand. What I meant to say is “harina,” flour. I probably blithely insisted that I used two cups of sand. Ah well. I figured it out much much later.

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