Less than one month left to go until Gangnam Style! I have been negligent in my blogging obligations. It’s funny how fragile a habit can be. I was blogging about my progress every week, but then Spring Break, a week-long visit from an old friend who now lives in Hong Kong, and a minor illness happened. My #DesignThyself Korean study went out the window.
I was still listening to Gangnam Style during my twice weekly commutes to and from Staten Island, but I felt like I was reaching a plateau. I am familiar enough with the song now to get bored with it and tune it out, but still not familiar enough to just bust it out a capella. A plateau is a natural obstacle in the journey towards acquiring a new habit or skill. The key is to find motivation.
I have started working with a tutor, Mini Kim, a grad student from a neighboring department at SVA. Working with a native speaker is a great motivator, since I didn’t really have anyone to talk to in Korean before besides brief retail and restaurant interactions. Also, paying a tutor helps with the sense of investment and accountability, just like paying for a personal trainer at the gym – it’s not just for the guidance and expertise, but also for the motivation that we ourselves are lacking.
The hardest part about Korean is the vocabulary. Enough of it is close enough to Japanese or Chinese cognates that I can figure stuff out, but there is still a lot that is very different. I am continuing with the Talk to Me in Korean podcasts for grammar points, but also supplementing that with a picture book called Easy to Learn Korean Language with common vocabulary and phrases. My previous phrasebook had useful phrases, but it was wordy, had small print, and just didn’t feel fun. See, designing delight matters!