Monthly Archives: March 2016

Meeting language partner again after 2.5 years

Last week I had the opportunity to meet one of my very first language partners for dinner on Wednesday as well as for an entire afternoon on Friday. We have stayed in touch over Kakaotalk since he went back to Korea after completing his exchange year in Copenhagen back in 2013, and we finally managed to meet again now that he dropped by Denmark for a quick visit during a vacation from graduate school in France.

Admittedly we didn’t speak a lot of Korean except for a few sentences here and there since our common language has always been English so that’s become our default language, but we did get to eat Korean food and enjoy each other’s company. Also, at dinner we were placed close to another table where a Korean and a Dane were obviously having a business meeting, which made me very aware that if I could hear their conversation (“ten million” “… before or after tax?”) they could likely hear us just as clearly.

A few moments to remember:

Realising that my phone’s settings are in Korean while his are in French.

After overhearing him speaking with two Koreans, nodding at the right times, and being able to translate afterwards:
Him: Oh, you understood!
Me: I understand more than you think
Him: Well done, we spoke quite fast
Him [to himself]: oh this could be dangerous…

After taking a picture of us together at a book cafe – with him being obviously much closer to the camera than me because of the angle:
Him [looking at the photo]: your head looks so small! just like that book!
At that I just started laughing, knowing full well that in Korea that’s a compliment, but in Denmark it just sounds a teeny bit odd
Him: that’s a good thing! Well, I’m close to the camera, but still

A bit of Korean daily life right there in Copenhagen.

Korean update

A lot has happened since my last post so maybe we should just get straight into it?

Korean lessons
I have been really consistent lately in spite of my otherwise rather overwhelming schedule. I take two classes per week with a community tutor and one per week with a professional tutor at italki.
We’ve talked so much by now that we’re getting to know each other fairly well, which is really nice since I learn a lot, but I feel a lot more relaxed about it. I remember feeling super stressed about waiting for the Skype calls in the beginning, but I’m happy to say that now that anxiety is completely gone and it’s just fun!

Language exchange
An American girl recently contacted me on italki to practice Danish. She wrote me a really nice message (in almost perfect Danish) about her motivation to keep improving after returning to the States, and I figured “why not? Koreans also practice Korean with me so ‘pay it forward’, right?”. Ultimately it didn’t work out because she had a Skype issue before our first talk, but I wrote to her that she could always write to me if she wanted to talk at some point.

I know that some people wonder how to approach potential language partners e.g. on italki and I have to say I have gotten a variety of messages, but those that seem nice, motivated and don’t have that “air of creepy”are surprisingly few and far between.

Of course there are the generic messages just reading “hi” (nothing else and the person may not even be learning your language). A variation usually includes something along the lines of ‘thank you for being my language partner, here is my Skype ID’. Those are pretty easy to ignore, and I wonder if people really think it works. Among the more curious ones, though, I have received one which was obviously translated into Danish through google translate and which asked about some obscure (and non-existing) rite of passage for Danish men. Needless to say, I didn’t reply to that one either. “I’m talking real I want to meet in life I’m ready for marriage” didn’t pass the don’t-be-a-psychopath test either…

But I’m digressing since there are obviously also perfectly serious people out there trying to improve their language abilities so let’s get back to the topic of language learning. As for the Korean exchanges, overall they are going well. I recently started exchanging messages with a young Korean woman who wants to improve her English so she’s more confident in English at work. So far we haven’t done any voice calls so our system of her writing in English and me replying in Korean has worked rather well. In spoken conversation that would be a super weird system, but in writing it works surprisingly well, and our respective levels allow us to both have a proper conversation and to pick up on corrections.

In phases, though, my Korean exchanges have, in some cases, added stress to my life… Such as when someone I have spoken to and gotten along with really well suddenly writes super short replies after an exceptionally long reply time (at first I figured that since I was the main benefactor of this exchange, maybe it was just dying out), proceeds to calling me at 4:30 am my time one random Saturday morning  – which I obviously missed because I was asleep – then doesn’t have time to call after that missed call, goes completely quiet for a week, and after a few tentative message exchanges let’s me wake up one morning to a message that I’m welcome to come and visit for a week. Only to seemingly fall off the face of the Earth for another two days. What. Just. Happened. There?!

Language tags
I have received some language tags (thank you so much!!!) and I’ll get to write those posts asap I can 🙂