Korean used to be completely foreign to me. The vertical and horizontal lines, circles and squares looked more like mysterious symbols than language. Unlike Japanese, as there are no Chinese characters, it was impossible to make sense out of the symbols. I never imagine I would learn Korean. It was not until last year when I fell in love with
the mega-hit KBS drama, “Descendants of the Sun” and the main character Song Joong Ki. Within days of finishing “Descendants of the Sun”, I decided to learn Korean. So I contacted my younger’s sister old Korean teacher, Mr. Alex Nam and arranged my first Korean lesson within a few days. I do not call Alex by his name as he is my teacher and I call him “Seon Saeng Lim”.
Although our syllabus is not based on any textbooks, Seon Saeng Lim’s teaching is very well structured. We started with the Korean alphabets “Hangul”. Gradually, Seon Saeng Lim introduced different grammatical structures. While grammar is often considered as dry and boring, I appreciate that Seon Saeng Lim placed a lot of effort in explaining the grammatical rules. Rules are always followed by examples in English. Seon Saeng Lim would explain, step-by- step, how to turn the English sentences into Korean. As Seon Saeng Lim’s explanation is systematic and logical, it is not as difficult as I originally thought. To reinforce learning, Seon Saeng Lim often gives revision to newly learnt grammar in the following lesson.
After finishing the essential grammar, which took us around three to four months, we started having some basic conversations. Under Seon Saeng Lim’s guidance, I was able to make simple sentences based on the grammar and vocabulary learnt. It was interesting and fun as the conversations are not textbook stories. I am able to express
what is happening in my daily life using simple Korean. Even though there is still a long way to go, I am very happy with the progress of my Korean learning. I do not think this would be possible without Seon Saeng Lim’s systematic and logical teaching. He is also very patient and often repeats the sentences a few times until I can become familiarized with the structure.
We all need motivation to commence a learning process. My initial motivation with Korean was simple. I was hoping that I could understand Korean drama. My goal now is that I hope I can converse in simple Korean when I travel to Korea. Goals are important as they help us to stay focused with the learning process. Of course, nothing comes easy with foreign language learning. We still need to put in a lot of time and effort in studying and revising. I recall Seon Saeng Lim once said it is always the most difficult at the beginning because everything is new. However, learning is accumulative and after a while, new learning would become old knowledge. This is so true. I feel fortunate that I can learn Korean from Seon Saeng Lim as not only his teaching is systematic and structured, he is also a very encouraging teacher with great sense of humour. I always have so much fun in my Korean lessons. Hopefully, I would be able to converse in simple Korean when I next travel to Seoul!