by MELISSA TAIT
Jeoneun hangug-eo leul moshaeyo. I don’t speak Korean at all. This is a phrase that many forigners should know. I should know it too but I just Google translated it then. Before coming to Korea I had many
intentions of becoming fluent in Korean within a month…or six weeks perhaps. I had already worked through one textbook and could say ’ko-pi juseyo’ confiently. But since arriving I’ve been completely
overwehelmed by the different variants of the language spoken by ajummas, my boss, the children I teach, and the building manager for my apartment. I live away from most foreigners and it was about two
weeks before I met one that was my own age in Busan. For those two weeks I was studying dillegently, aided by my bilingual co-teachers.
In that time I managed to find the Busan Foundation for International Activities (http://www.bfia.or.kr/renewal/english/main.html) that offers many helpful and official services such as telephone counselling, tourism advice, a language swap program and a FREE Korean Class.
I signed up for the Beginner 2 class (I finished that text book right?) but quickly transferred to the Beginner 1 class. With a range of foreigners from Japan, the Phillippines, Vietnam and your various
English speaking countries, the class is run in a very professional manner with a lovely teacher. We started from the alphabet which was covered quite quickly and very soon moved over the nouns, forming
sentences and questions, verb conjugation, adjective conjugation and now we’re on numbers and the different counting systems used in Korea.
In a class full of English teachers it’s interesting to see how difficult it can be to have the confidence to speak in another language. Also, I learn about two or three key phrases a week which really open up my understanding of the language and culture. The week I learnt Chin-guk meant friend – and not Ching-country – was an eye-opener. Now I hear everyone saying it, on the subway, on their cell phones and even my students in class. I seem to be progressing as fast as my elementary students, which is all good by me.
The current class is in about week six; it will run for ten weeks in total. There were a few more people at the beginning of the course than there are now, but a few people are taking the course for the second time. If you attend 80% of the classes you get a certificate which is my motivation. Of course, I’m a far way away from fluency, but I’m happy to keep plugging along and learn what I can while I’m here. It’s free anyway right? And by free I mean you pay a W10,000 deposit and buy a textbook which is W30,000 and that’s all the costs for the semester.
The registration for the next course opens from May 30, and the classes run from June 6~ August 5, six weeks. We’ll give you a reminder around that time in case you are interested but then sort of forget in the hustle and bustle of Busan life. Register through: 1) www.busanlife.or.kr, 2) firstname.lastname@example.org, 3) call to 1577-7716, 4) visiting BFIA office.
Wish me luck! This week I have to learn numbers 1 – 100 in the Korean method. I so far I know 1, 2, 3 and 10. I think I’ve got some studying to do!
Address: Level 13, National Pension Building, Jungang-ro.
Directions: Take the subway or buss to City Hall (시 청) Subway Line 1.
Take exit 6 and the National Pension Building is the large glass building across the road from the City Hall itself.
More detailed instructions: http://www.bfia.or.kr/renewal/english/about/06.html