Language Course Expectations

On the way home from school, I heard an interesting conversation. This student is probably a beginner picking up Korean.

Why do we need to learn to write in Korean? All I need to know is how to speak in the language. Learning to write is unnecessary.

This student’s friends were nodding in agreement. Personally I was taken aback. I was pondering over the statement and I came to a 1-word conclusion: expectations.

I think the different reasons for picking up Korean and goals set for learning would determine the expectations from the class and how hardworking a person would be when learning. Some of the common reasons for picking up Korean:
– kdrama (that’s mine! Watch without subs)
– kpop
– work

I am a goal-oriented person and I find that with an observable goal attached to learning would make it more productive as I’m working towards something. My goal is KLPT level 2 so when I attend classes I make an extra effort to learn and listen more attentively. Knowing the requirements for KLPT, I’m putting in the hours (I try!) to remember the new words and log my learning in my blog.

With my goal in mind, I have the expectations of picking up reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in class. Maybe this is the reason I was frustrated when I could not pick up what I wanted to learn in the first lesson with CLS.

Hmm… back to the student. Don’t you think it feels kinda incomplete to learn to speak without learning the write and read?


2 responses to “Language Course Expectations

  1. Many Filipinos are overseas workers. And we see those who are coming back after a few years (for vacation or for good) able to speak the language of the country where they worked for. There are a lot of workers in Japan (and China/Hong Kong) who came back here able to speak Japanese (Chinese) without knowing the script. It made me believe that it’s possible not to learn a script of a language and be ‘fluent’ with it AND simply exposing one self to the language 24/7 is enough. But I started to ‘doubt’ it when I met an old friend who worked somewhere in the middle east and claims he can speak the language, but cannot really translate a lot of things I was asking him. I think his fluency is merely everyday conversation. For Japanese, since it somehow have the same phontactic inventory (sounds) in our language, maybe it’s possible. But for me, when I started learning Korean I realized just after just 5 minutes of watching Let’s Speak Korean, that it’s ‘impossible’, at least for me, to study Korean without learning Hangeul because of it’s complicated phonology (very different from ours).
    Other can argue that kids acquire languages by just listening first, then speaking. Then they will just learn writing later on. Not the other way around. But that’s language acquisition and not language learning. For second language learning, it’s more difficult so ‘real’ studying is required to attain a certain proficiency. And studying for me includes reading. Just imagine if you don’t know the script of the language you are studying how very limited your resources will be for learning and how big of a world would open in front of you if you know the script. Others can make an excuse saying that Chinese and Japanese scripts are difficult but Korean is fairly easy and very systematic too (and pretty!)so I really can’t understand those who are / who want to learn Korean but doesn’t want / doesn’t see the importance of learning Hangeul.

    • You are absolutely right! I have a friend.from Philippines who can speak better Mandarin than me. She worked in Hong Kong for a few years and picked it up along the way. Of course, as you have mentioned, it’s mainly daily usage sentences. But that is still a feat. Yup, learning will be limited if a learner does not know how to read the language. Then again, it depends on the reason for study. If it is just to speak a little (basic phrases) and nothing more, learning to read might not be necessary.

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