#DesignThyself Design for Social Innovation

#DesignThyself – Korean Challenge Week 2

Week two of my #DesignThyself challenge to learn Korean through Gangnam Style. This week I have learned the first verse of Gangnam Style basically phonetically through rote repetition and memorization. I’ve also been trying to learn the grammar and decode the lyrics word by word, phrase by phrase as well. I’m going to have to pick up my pace and figure out a better way to learn these lyrics.

In the meantime, I’m trying pick up more general Korean language vocabulary and grammar to make learning the song easier and to fulfill the “basic restaurant and karaoke bar” proficiency required by my challenge. I get bored with textbooks and learning materials pretty quickly, so I kind of have a multiple resources that I can refer to and study in a few spare moments, either as a break from other work, or I have also found it to be a nice new ritual to listen to a Korean podcast from Talk to Me in Korean before bed (almost) every night. I find studying a language before bed and then “sleeping on it” helps me remember better. So far, I’ve made it through the first level of lessons from Talk to Me in Korean, so now starting level 2.

Other resources: I have a copy of the Lonely Planet Korean phrasebook on my nightstand as well. I sometimes flip through and learn a new phrase before bed and when I wake up. I just downloaded WordPower Learn Korean vocabulary for my iPad. This might replace my paper phrasebook since it has helpful audio pronunciation files. I also have a copy of Routledge’s Colloquial Korean (books and CDs). I have found it a useful reference for grammar, but it’s a little bit too boring and business-oriented for my needs right now.

Lots of great insights about language learning hacks in this conversation between Tim Ferris and Benny from Fluent in 3 Months.

#DesignThyself Design Design for Social Innovation New York SVA SVA Design for Social Innovation SVADSI


This semester, I am co-teaching a class called Designing Change with Lina Srivastava at Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts. Students will be working in groups to collaborate with local non-profits, start-ups and community groups to design communications, conversations, and interactions that change people’s attitudes, habits, and/or behaviors. More on those projects later, but in this post, I want to talk about the personal assignments that everyone in the class will be doing individually along with their group projects.

In the spirit of heeding Gandhi’s challenge to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” #DesignThyself is a project where we will each design and document intentional and proactive personal change in our lives. Think of it as part new year’s resolution as art school project and part reality show. The personal change could be learning a new skill, picking up a new habit (or quitting an old one), or acquiring a new behavior response to certain triggers or stress. Possible themes include health, sport, language, cooking, reading, emotional life, meditation, or creative practice. We will document the before, during, and after of our personal transformations online and mark our posts with the hash tag #DesignThyself. (Another pedagogical aim of this assignment is to get the students familiar with blogging and social media.) The projects should be related to personal growth and self-mastery, but also light-hearted and fun.

My #DesignThyself challenge for spring 2013?

Gangnam Style!

From now until the end of April 2013:

  • I promise to study Korean at least 5 minutes a day, every day.
  • I will post about my process and progress at least once a week.
  • Before the end of the semester, I will go to Koreatown, where I will be able to practice my new Korean skills by ordering dinner in Korean, and…
  • Perform Gangnam Style at karaoke (or noraebang if you want to be culturally/linguistically accurate).

References and Readings
I have suggested that my students check out lifehacking blogs to get some ideas and inspiration for their projects. Here are some links that I shared in last night’s class:␣awt_m=3dp9HK1tvnMY4bn␣awt_m=3gwuR_jW0TMY4bn

We will also be reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit over the course of the semester. Progress report and more insights next week!