This Thursday we began our Korean language classes. I started out in Beginner level D (with levels from A-C being absolute beginner, and D-E being more advanced). It was a little bit of an adjustment being taught in only Korean, but it was good to get me thinking in Korean again. Our class seemed to be badly placed; two people were very new beginners, but another ETA and myself breezed through the class. I have to say it was comfortable, but too easy. Although I was a little unsure about it, I asked to be placed in the intermediate class, and was allowed to switch.
The days here seem to move by very slowly – at this point one day feels like a week, since there’s so much stuff packed into each day. So for the next 24 hours, I became increasingly more stressed about language classes.
Was intermediate too high for me? I’ve never actually learned future tense, so would I be in trouble? Why can’t there be a level between “advanced” beginner and intermediate?
It didn’t help that the homework was tough, and the people in intermediate all seemed to be asking each other about very specific grammar points. I went into class today (Friday) extremely nervous.
But wow! I understood much more than I thought, although my head really hurt by the end of class. My skill level seemed to be right around the level of others in the class – there were people better than me, and fewer people that seemed worse, but I had been expecting to be the worst person in the class and was preparing myself to work extra hard the whole time. The class will still take a lot of work, but I’m excited to be learning at a much faster pace. (And I’ll keep studying future tense on my own.)
For the remainder of orientation, with few exceptions, I’ll be attending an intermediate Korean language class from 9am-1pm, Monday through Friday. We have a ten minute break every hour, and there are different teachers for the first and second half of the class. So far the teachers – well, university professors – have all been great, in both the beginner and intermediate classes. I had high expectations for language classes offered through Fulbright, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I realized while doing my TESOL certification in June that I’ve always disliked learning foreign languages (French) in school. While Korean is different, since I have such a personal connection to the language, the realization made me reflect on how I could reach students like me. It’s no accident that Fulbright has future English teachers taking Korean language classes. In the next five weeks, I’m going to try and be conscious of what is helpful for my language learning, and how I can apply this to my classroom in the near future.