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I thought I’d take a break from the serious business of studying (or at least posting about studying; I’m still hard at work, plowing through my lessons) and instead give you – Stephen “Reign” Colbert!

Although I’ve been following The Colbert Report since it first started, I can’t stay I’ve been as loyal a fan as I probably should be. But I remember when his battle with K-Pop star, Rain, started. It was probably the sketch(s) that finally hooked me – and this was before I decided to go teach in Korea.

Anyway, in case you haven’t seen it, I thought I’d share some of the battle with you (and unfortunately, I couldn’t embed the links from Comedy Central, so hyperlinks will have to do):

Here’s the Beginning of the Battle, from April 10, 2008’s segment, Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger (including the He’s Singin’ In Korean video)

And here’s a Summary of the Epic Colbert/Rain Battle for the K-Pop Crown, from start to glorious finish.

And here’s the He’s Singin’ In Korean Wikiality page, complete with lyrics and translations.

And here’s the Discovery Channel’s Hip Hop Korea segment about Colbert and Rain:

As if that wasn’t enough, here’s Rain’s original video ‘Ways to Avoid the Sun’, which Colbert’s parody was based off of. It also has the lyrics, in romanized Korean and English:

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So I’d like to talk up Sogang University’s Korean Language program, since I’ve talked a lot about Rosetta Stone but also want to present other methods of learning Korean. I really like this website they have set up. It’s not really enough to use as a primary source for learning Korean but it’s been really, REALLY helpful for practicing reading hangul and for polishing up my Korean grammar. Of course, I’m only the first lesson on the Sogang program.

In addition to an Introductory Korean page, which basically introduces you to hangul, they’ve broken down their lessons into Novice Korea (levels 1,2,3) and Intermediate Korea (levels 1,2,3), and each level has 10 lessons. And each lesson has key expressions, reading, listening and vocabulary activities and grammar lessons. Personally I was drawn to the grammar lessons. Like I said before, I’ve studied German and German is a grammar heavy language so I think for me, being able to understand the finer points of Korean that I can’t learn (or haven’t yet learned) through Rosetta Stone is kind of like a safety net for me.

I’ve been going through the lessons (okay, really only lesson 1 so far…) and copying down the grammar lessons into a notebook so I can keep studying Korean even without my laptop. (Right now, that’s been a problem since all my methods of studying are computer based). On that note, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a graph paper notebook for writing hangul. The blocks make it a lot easier to get the 자모 (jamo – that is, letters) together and properly sized. I picked up this trick when I (briefly) studied Japanese. (Chotto nihongo ga hanaseru!)

Plus, the website is completely free. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me so definitely check it out.

As of my last post, I had made a good amount of progress and more or less kept to my goal of studying Korean for an hour a night.

As of this post… Let’s just say, I’ve been side-tracked. But with good reason.

For the past week, I’ve been getting over this pain-in-the-butt cold. At first I had a sore throat and stuffed nose. That eventually progressed into an even more stuffed nose that was just unbelievably annoying since everything seemed to irritate it. Including stuff I have to handle regularly at my job, where I don’t have immediate access to tissues or anything else I could use to blow my nose. And through it all, my most problematic symptom was exhaustion. I had about enough energy to get through work and not much else. Especially by yesterday. I was pretty much dead on my feet yesterday.

Thankfully, today I had a day off so last night I went to be at the early hour (for me) of 11pm and slept for about 12 hours. And then I pretty much lazed around for the rest of the day since I think there’s still just a little bit of cold lingering.

BUT! I did manage to study for around two hours today. Unfortunately, when I tried to pick U2L2 (Unit 2 Lesson 2) back up again I had some issues with it (although all things considered, I’m impressed that I actually remembered a lot from U2L1 and U2L1). So I redid the Core Lessons of Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 before finishing off the last couple activities of Lessons 2.

I have to work tomorrow, so it sounds like I’ll probably just be reviewing stuff. But Wednesday I have another day off so HOPEFULLY I’ll be able to move ahead with U2L3.

As it turns out, learning Korean numbers wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but it was still a challenge at first. It was tough to master 1-6, especially because there are two different sets of numbers in Korean: one set in Native Korean and one set in Sino-Korean, which is influenced by Chinese. I still haven’t figured out exactly when which is used when, but Native Korean is used for counting things. I’ve heard Sino-Korean is for telling time but I haven’t gotten to that in Rosetta Stone yet. Luckily, once you have 1-6 (reasonably) down, Rosetta Stone is set up to make it easier to learn later numbers.

I’ve just started Lesson 2 of Unit 2 (woo-hoo!). In L1U2, they introduce numbers 7-12. But they mix them up with the 1-6 numbers that you (should) already know, so its easier to remember the new numbers. And L2U2 is continuing to drill numbers and colors while introducing new information.

As for the progress on procrastination, I’ve been doing really well with studying, but unfortunately not 1-hour-a-day well. It’s a little difficult since my work schedule sometimes makes it difficult to study for an hour. This weekend I worked both Saturday and Sunday. I probably could have studied on Saturday but chose to watch a movie with my family instead. And Sunday I was waaaaay to pooped. BUT – to make up for not studying this weekend, I studied for over an hour today. I went back to Unit 1 of Rosetta Stone and made sure I had 100% correctness on all my lessons (except the Pronunciation lessons…), then chunked out the beginnings of L1U2 and L2U2.

And I found some new Korean language resources (now on the Korean Sites page), so it was a pretty good day for me, in terms of learning Korean.

When I first got Rosetta Stone, a couple people asked me if the fact that I already know German fairly well somehow gives me an upper-hand in using this software. I didn’t have a really good answer for any of them at the time, since I had only just started using it and thus couldn’t tell. I have been thinking about it, though, and I’ve wanted to do a small post about it since benefits of other languages and is the program easy are the main questions I get asked.

First of all, I’m not fluent in German. English is my native language and the only one I’m fluent in. So I don’t have the advantage that bilingual/multilingual kids have, where their brain actually adapts through knowing extra languages and makes it much easier for them to learn new ones.

Second of all, although I love learning new languages, I don’t have any kind of gift for it like some people. I’ve known a couple people who can just hear a few phrases in another language and immediately have them down, or can mimic an accent almost fluently. I am not one of them. Well, except for maybe with the accent thing. I have a pretty good ear, which does help me, but it’s not good enough to offer me a great advantuage.

So those things said, I don’t really have a natural advantage that can work with Rosetta Stone and somehow let me excel at it better than other people. But I will say that studying German (and French and Polish) has definitely given me two tools that have really come in handy for focusing one what Rosetta Stone presents.

Tool # 1: I’m fairly sure this comes from studying other languages. I can pretty easily pick up a word if it’s said to me once or twice. I might not (and probably won’t) remember it in the long run if I don’t continue to use it. But I can repeat it and use it almost immediately. It’s from all those years of basically repeating what the French/German/Polish teacher just said, except with a different subject/verb/object. This comes in handy with Rosetta Stone because when they ask me to repeat something they just said, or to match a word that was just used with a picture, I can do with that pretty easily without fully knowing what’s being said. And then I’m able to master the meaning by using the word correctly enough times.

Tool # 2: Grammar. This is entirely thanks to studying German. If you are a native English speaker, you probably don’t have a great grasp of English grammar (unless maybe you went to a really good school… or are British. I feel like they might understand their grammar a little better than the rest of us.) If you study German for more than a year (for me, five years), you WILL and MUST learn grammar. The rules of German grammar are very clear cut and there are several aspects of grammar that you need to be familiar with in German that don’t matter as much (or at all) in English, like direct/indirect objects, verb placement, separation of phrases. I could go on. And although I definitely make mistakes, my German grammar is very good (and now my English grammar is too). Thanks to that, it was very easy for me to figure out how Korean sentences are set up (Where’s the verb? Where the subject? Do they use articles?) and that REALLY helps me learn new words. I don’t get stumped when they throw a new element in. I just pause, figure out what the rest of the elements are and I can pretty easily figure out the new one.

Those are the main advantages I think I have. But I still have to drill for hours like everyone else.

It’s Hangul Day in South Korea! And in celebration, I’ve been practicing my hangul writing abilities. Which I haven’t really been practicing. Reading, yes. Typing via Rosetta Stone, yes. Writing with pen and paper, no. I have to say, I kinda suck at it. Hopefully I’ll get better with practice because even if I won’t need to write in Korean when I’m there (which I might – I don’t know), I still want to be able to do it.

Also, I’ve pretty much decided that my favorite letter (자모) isㅎ, which is ‘h’ in Korean. It was the first Korean letter I fully mastered and I just think it looks happy, like a little person wearing a hat that’s just happy to see you’re reading it.

In other news, I’ve started lesson 4  (the last lesson of Unit 1, woo-hoo!) of Rosetta Stone, which focuses on learning numbers. Wow. I knew I was going to have trouble learning numbers because in Korean there are two set of numbers, one native Korean and one that’s taken from Chinese, which they use in different situations. Each lesson is a little tricky at first but after running through it once or twice (twice for the colors) I usually have it mostly down and then I just have to wait a day or two for it to full sink in. I’m definitely going to have to go over the numbers many times before I fully master it because it’s not clicking for me.

Okay, so this requires a teenie, weenie bit of back story so indulge me for a moment. When I was first hired as an English teacher, they gave me a list of websites on Korean language and culture to check out and one of them was a really cool map of Korean festivals. And I then proceeded to loose that website.

Then the day I started this blog, I found another blog for Korea Sparkling, Korea’s tourism campaign. On the blog they had a way to post a little Korea Sparkling box on your blog that could be programed to show the news, weather or something else from South Korea. I lost that website too. Literally. It’s gone from my little version of the web.

So today I was trying to find the Korea Sparkling blog. Instead I found the Korea Sparkling website. Imagine my surprise when, after surfing around on that page, I found the ORIGINAL FESTIVAL PAGE! WOO-HOO! So I put in on the Korean Sites page. I very much suggest checking it out.

One of the side effects I always experience when learning a new language (and I hope I’m not the only one…) is that when I try to speak the language or even just focus on learning the new vocabulary I get really, really tired. I’m the kind of person who can (despite being vertically challenge) do physically demanding things and end up with sore muscles and no sleepiness but then do something that’s mentally challenging and just feel exhausted and in great need of a nap. Because of this, I’ve been seriously procrastinating with learning Korean. The upside to Rosetta Stone is you can study it whenever you want. The downside is it doesn’t force you into a schedule like a class would. I promised myself I’d study for an hour a day (eventually increasing the time once it stopped exhausting my poor little brain). Sadly… I think I’ve kept that promise far less often than I’ve broken it.

BUT THEN! I was wondering around WordPress and I found another blog that’s pretty much doing the same thing I’m doing (Yeah, I figured I wasn’t even close to original with my little blog). Chocokorea’s Bold Korean Learning Adventure: Language Learning Journal. Okay, so this blog kicks my blogs butt (Have mercy I’m only a few weeks old!). Of course, I’m doing this mostly  for me, so it’s fine if my blog’s not the next inspiration for a Perez Hilton empire or a Julie & Julia-esque movie. But I do like a lot of the features Chocokorea has and will definitely be checking out the resources provided. And I will be forcing myself to, at the very least (if I can’t rally my strength for Rosetta Stone), practice writing hangul everyday.

On that note,  looking at other Korea blogs, I think I will have to start including hangul in my entries. I feel it’s a must. Plus it looks cool.

It’s a post full of holidays! The Korean holidays are one of the major things I’m excited to learn about when I’m there. But like learning the language, it doesn’t hurt to brush up before hand.

Yesdterday (October 2) in South Korea was Chuseok (추석), the Full Moon Harvest holiday, which similar to Thanksgiving. Korea.net has a cute display of it and I definitely recommend people read it if they want to know more. They give a history of the holiday as well as old and modern Chuseok. And, oh yeah, adorable pictures. It’s a major holiday in Korea and I’m looking forward to eventually being over there and celebrating it myself (next year, of course).

Today (October 3rd) is National Foundation Day, known as Gaecheonjeol (개천절),  in South Korea. It celebrates the founding of the first Korean state, Gojoseon (고조선). The name Gaecheonjeol , I have read, means “Heaven-opened Day”.

Another holiday coming up in South Korea is Korean Day (October 5th). It was started in 2007 as a way for Koreans at home and abroad to better understand each other. A very nice sentiment for a holiday to have.

Finally, the last holiday in October (that I’m aware of)  is Hangul Day, called Han-geullal (한글날), on October 9th. This day commemorates the invention and proclamation of hangul, the Korean alphabet. Hangul was invented by King Sejong the Great.

PS. In case you read the post after this all the way to the very bottom, after writing it I went back and put the hangul in this post after their romanized counter-parts. Yay, editing!