Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

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Will he make it?

Yes
40
74%
No
14
26%
 
Total votes: 54

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leosmith
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Location: Seattle
Languages: English (N)
Actively learning Korean (~B1)
Maintaining Japanese (~B2), Mandarin (~B2), Thai (~B2), Russian (~B2), French (~B2), Spanish (~C1)
All but forgotten Swahili (~B1)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5054
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Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby leosmith » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:54 am

Introduction
In addition to the ones I’ve already started, there are 4 more languages I want to learn in my lifetime. Of those 4, Korean is the one that attracts me the most right now. I’ve had this fantasy about trying to learn a language really fast for some time now, which would prove my method, and Korean seems to be the perfect candidate to satisfy it. So I’m going to see how far I can get in exactly 1 year. Based on the quantifiable things I think I can accomplish in this time period, I believe I’ll reach B2 by that time. Here’s a simplified list and current status – you can decide for yourself whether you think this will get me to B2:

alphabet, pronunciation of phonemes and words - done
Michel Thomas - done
Korean From Zero! book 1 - done
Pimsleur - done
hand write 5 lines of text per day (on schedule)
text/type on occasion (on schedule)
anki reps daily with a cap of no less than 100 per day (on schedule)
800 hours of listening (see bar graph below)
read to a level of 24,550 known words on LingQ (see bar graph below)
200 hours of conversation lessons on italki (see bar graph below)

After that, I’ll travel to Korea for a month to enjoy the country and see how I do. I plan on making some videos along the way. I’m not shy, and I’d make a lot except I’m not good at it; there’s a learning curve and I’d rather be learning Korean than how to make videos. But I promise those of you who are interested that it will happen.

At fist glance, you might think it’s unlikely that this slow learning 55yo native English speaker living in the US could reach a level roughly equivalent to B2 in Korean in one year. But I have some very powerful things working to my advantage too. I’ve learned many languages, the key ones being Japanese and Mandarin. I’m retired, and can devote a great deal time to this task. I’m currently maintaining 6 other languages, which is a time draw, but my schedule flexibility seems to keep review sessions from interfering with my Korean studies. Can I do it? We shall see.

This log is not only for reporting my progress but also for sharing my strategy. I’d like to write it in a way that someone learning Korean could mimic me if they so choose, so sorry in advance to others if I get into lengthy descriptions.

Why Korean? My primary reason is always the same; for the girls. I know that bothers some people, but I refuse to hide it. Next is the fact that so many consider it to be the hardest major language for a westerner to learn, even more than my personal pick, Japanese. This has always confused me. In the infamous HTLAL I hate Korean thread I was (indirectly) called an armchair quarterback for stating that the notion of Korean being harder than Japanese was absurd. Third, it’s the only one of the “Big 3” Asian languages I don’t know, and westerners who speak all 3 are extremely rare. Now I have a lot of other reasons for learning the language, but those are the 3 biggest, and I don’t doubt that there are some people out there that think there is no way these give me enough motivation to succeed. These people are so, so wrong. There is no such thing as wrong motivation; the thing to fear is weak motivation. Every single language I’ve learned has been do or die; you will not find a more motivated learner. After all, why would I devote thousands of hours to them if I wasn’t motivated?

I started learning Korean on Sept 16, 2016, which is six years after I started my previous language, Russian. In this 6 year span I refined my language learning method, the latest version of which hasn’t been neatly typed out yet, but I summarize here in 3 steps:
1) Pimsleur
2) Conversation
3) The 4 skills
Those are just the names of the steps. I’ll explain them a little better as they come up.

Welcome to my log, and enjoy!
Last edited by leosmith on Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:07 pm, edited 29 times in total.
17 x
My Log: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year
: 4675 / 8000 Korean listening (800 hrs goal):
: 13540 / 24550 Korean reading (24,550 LingQ words goal):
: 1175 / 2000 Korean conversation (200 italki tutor hours goal):

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Xenops
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?p=48718#p48718
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby Xenops » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:34 am

I was just thinking of asking someone, "how long does it take someone to reach B2? Can it be done in a year?" Now I'll find out.
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leosmith
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Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:06 pm
Location: Seattle
Languages: English (N)
Actively learning Korean (~B1)
Maintaining Japanese (~B2), Mandarin (~B2), Thai (~B2), Russian (~B2), French (~B2), Spanish (~C1)
All but forgotten Swahili (~B1)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5054
x 392

Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby leosmith » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:15 am

Sept 16-22, Step 1(a): Learn the alphabet, pronunciation of phonemes and pronunciation of words. Start listening.

Although I have other important goals, my main goal in language learning is conversation and I never lose track of that. I do a lot of language exchanges; several hundred a year with dozens of language partners, tutors, etc. About a year ago I started paying attention to the types of errors that caused conversations to stop on both sides. I was surprised to find out that poor pronunciation was usually number one. These days standard advice seems to be “be satisfied with pronunciation that’s good enough to be understood” or “good enough not to cause excessive work from your partner”. While this sounds like reasonable advice, the takeaway seems to be that pronunciation isn’t very important.

Well it’s really important to me. On the other hand, I’m not going to make the effort to achieve pronunciation exactly like a native speaker. But I have found a way to get very good pronunciation at a relatively low cost. The first thing I do is learn the alphabet and pronunciation of phonemes concurrently. Then I move onto words, and finally sentences. In addition, I start a pure listening component to my method. So before I start to read or do any other activities in the language, I have a good grasp on pronunciation. I believe if you don’t get a good grasp on pronunciation before you start reading, regardless of how much listening you do, you will not achieve your full potential in pronunciation due to error fossilization.

Part (a) only takes about a week, and I decided to start my Korean journey with the hangul section of the free online text Korean From Zero. Not only is it among the best rated Korean texts on Amazon, it’s new, which means they use up to date language, and the convenience of everything being online makes it very attractive. There are actually three levels, paper copies of which can be purchased, but all are free online. I bought the first text to show my support. The one significant advantage the paper texts have over the online version (other than being in wonderful paper) is that there are much more exercises. This is a superb of a resource.

The books are called “courses” online, and each course has 17 lessons. In addition, the first course has a 7 lesson pre-course for teaching Hangul, the Korean writing system. That’s what this step is all about, so I did one lesson per day. I started out listening to a vowel or consonant’s pronunciation, then wrote it out about 10 times while repeating it. Consonants were eventually combined with vowels to form letters, simple letters were sometimes combined to form complex letters, and letters were combined to form words. At each step I made sure to master the pronunciation and spelling of everything I was studying. It’s very important to master this step. Pronunciation of phonemes and words are the building blocks of pronunciation in general, and if you can’t pronounce a phoneme correctly, then you won’t be able to pronounce words or sentences correctly. And it really helps to have something to associate the pronunciation with in your brain, so this is absolutely the correct time to learn the alphabet.

At the end of the week I felt well on top of basic Hangul. Originally I’d planned to get with a native speaker to check my pronunciation at this time, but instead I decided it made more sense to get to the sentence level, where I’d be pronouncing in context, so they would have more to check. That didn’t stop me from checking out many You Tube videos on Korean pronunciation. Pronunciation is like any other facet of language learning – it is far more effective to fine tune it every once in a while than try to learn it all in one chunk and be done with it. Ideally the majority of this fine tuning should occur in the first few months, because that leads to the best pronunciation with the fewest fossilized errors. I’m not too proud check it out again later in my language learning, but I want to make that unnecessary if possible.
For more info on Korean pronunciation, including some helpful links, I started a post here.
2 x
My Log: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year
: 4675 / 8000 Korean listening (800 hrs goal):
: 13540 / 24550 Korean reading (24,550 LingQ words goal):
: 1175 / 2000 Korean conversation (200 italki tutor hours goal):

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Teango
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby Teango » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:01 am

Good luck adding the final instalment of the CJK "Big 3" to your already impressive linguistic repertoire! With a generous helping of new sounds to articulate that exist somewhere between known phonemes, and those initially tricky sound change rules, I agree that pronunciation is important to get right early in Korean. I'll be following your blog with keen interest and curiosity - 화이팅, leosmith!!
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DaveBee
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby DaveBee » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:13 am

leosmith wrote: Next is the fact that so many consider it to be the hardest major language for a westerner to learn, even more than my personal pick, Japanese. This has always confused me. In the infamous HTLAL I hate Korean thread I was (indirectly) called an armchair quarterback for stating that the notion of Korean being harder than Japanese was absurd.
Isn't there an ancient DNA link between the Japanese and the Koreans? Do you see that in the languages?
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leosmith
Orange Belt
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:06 pm
Location: Seattle
Languages: English (N)
Actively learning Korean (~B1)
Maintaining Japanese (~B2), Mandarin (~B2), Thai (~B2), Russian (~B2), French (~B2), Spanish (~C1)
All but forgotten Swahili (~B1)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5054
x 392

Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby leosmith » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:35 am

Teango wrote:Good luck adding the final instalment of the CJK "Big 3" to your already impressive linguistic repertoire! With a generous helping of new sounds to articulate that exist somewhere between known phonemes, and those initially tricky sound change rules, I agree that pronunciation is important to get right early in Korean. I'll be following your blog with keen interest and curiosity - 화이팅, leosmith!!
Thanks buddy!
DaveBee wrote:Isn't there an ancient DNA link between the Japanese and the Koreans? Do you see that in the languages?
I don't know much about the history of the countries or languages for that matter, but there is very similar grammar, and a lot of shared vocabulary, which I'm seeing every day. My Japanese friends tell me that Korean is the easiest language for them to learn.
Last edited by leosmith on Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
1 x
My Log: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year
: 4675 / 8000 Korean listening (800 hrs goal):
: 13540 / 24550 Korean reading (24,550 LingQ words goal):
: 1175 / 2000 Korean conversation (200 italki tutor hours goal):

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Sizen
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Location: AB, Canada
Languages: English (N), French
Studying: Japanese, Hebrew
Studied for comprehension: Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Mandarin
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2835&p=35968#p35968
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby Sizen » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:17 am

DaveBee wrote:Isn't there an ancient DNA link between the Japanese and the Koreans? Do you see that in the languages?

There have been proposed groups that have put Japanese and Korean in the same family (the Altaic language hypothesis, for example), but genetic evidence being lacking, both languages are currently classified under separate eponymous language families, Japonic and Koreanic. Most all cognates between the two languages are of Chinese origin.

There is, however, a hypothesis suggesting that certain ancient languages spoken on the Korean peninsula are related to the Japonic languages (Japanese–Koguryoic hypothesis).
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:44 am

I agree pronunciation is very important to get right early on. Otherwise (imo) you're going to have trouble correcting issues down the track. I personally simply cannot fathom who other language learners will start reading before their pronunciation is in a decent place. How? Even if I read in English, I'm hearing the words in my head in a way. I do the same with French, so if I don't know how to pronounce a word I come across I will look up the phonetics, otherwise I could reinforce sloppy pronunciation.

This is an interesting goal btw, with your Korean, so good luck and hang in there! You can do it (Arnold Schwarzenegger accent), smash that Korean out of the park! ;)
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:12 am

PS: leosmith do you have any favourites in terms what might be the best apps and/or websites for tutoring and conversational practice? I'm rather new to the area and just curious what you'd recommend given your experience.
0 x

User avatar
leosmith
Orange Belt
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:06 pm
Location: Seattle
Languages: English (N)
Actively learning Korean (~B1)
Maintaining Japanese (~B2), Mandarin (~B2), Thai (~B2), Russian (~B2), French (~B2), Spanish (~C1)
All but forgotten Swahili (~B1)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5054
x 392

Re: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year

Postby leosmith » Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:20 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:PS: leosmith do you have any favourites in terms what might be the best apps and/or websites for tutoring and conversational practice? I'm rather new to the area and just curious what you'd recommend given your experience.

I'm going to list all the resources I use as I go along here, so you can keep an eye out for them. But just quickly, italki can't be beat for finding conversation tutors/teachers.
2 x
My Log: Korean - from scratch to B2 in one year
: 4675 / 8000 Korean listening (800 hrs goal):
: 13540 / 24550 Korean reading (24,550 LingQ words goal):
: 1175 / 2000 Korean conversation (200 italki tutor hours goal):


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