I've been learning since March and although I now know many words, I have trouble putting it all in a sentence. I think I need more practice but I don't have anyone to practice with. I'm visiting Korea end of this year so I'll be sure to add a lot of "yo's" to not offend anyone with my Korean
it really does depend on the person. I heard of someone who studied so tenaciously that she learned a new language in 6 months. It is possible that she was just born genius though.
I have a feeling if i had more outlets to practice my korean i'd probably be at least proficient by now. I've been learning for just under a year, but i don't have many places to practice so i still have trouble forming sentences.
It depends on a lot of things, too. How similar the language is to your native tongue, how many languages you've already learned, your affinity for language learning. I achieved Japanese fluency in two years, and passed their hardest proficiency test (JLPT1) in only one year. If you ask me, the best thing you can do when learning a language as different from your native tongue as Korean is to study and practice a lot. Memorizing the vocabulary just flat takes time, but grammar, word choice, and syntax can be learned as fast as you study and practice, and those are what are fundamental to fluency. It's why it's so much easier for an American to learn and start speaking Spanish than Japanese - both require new vocabulary, but Japanese (which is like Korean with different words) requires utterly different grammar, word choice, and syntax.
It might also help to define what you consider fluency. If you manage to master the fundamental elements of the language, fluency becomes just a question of topics. If I know 200 words about the zoo, I can fluently converse about the zoo because vocabulary at that point is just plug-and-play. Oppositely, even in English I'm not fluent in a topic about chemistry reagents and enzymes, even though I understand English grammar and syntax.
Also, to a certain degree, time is a tool. I think the seven-year rule comes from two ESL studies that showed that it took 6.5 years for college-level non-natives to achieve native-level vocabulary (~20,000 words). I also think that you can only study so much vocabulary a day before your efficacy starts to decrease, at least in my experience. However, there are also hardcore 8-week immersion courses that are designed to improve your competency stupid-fast. And they do it by utterly surrounding students in the language - they study a bunch of different things (so your mind doesn't lock up) and present material in a lot of different contexts (the average student has to see a word or grammar construct 7 times before he's able to use it effectively, the average AP student 2-3).
And if you ask the US government, it's not a question of years. It's a question of weeks. They train their soldiers to functioning fluency (which would if anything only leave out vocabulary) in Korean in 60 weeks, 4-5 class hours and 2-3 class-prep hours a day.
So based on this and my experience, I'd say it ultimately depends on you, but also that time is exponentially valuable. If you are college-level and study for 2-3 hours a day, it may take 7 years. Yet if you study 8-12 hours a day, you can reach amazing levels in a couple months. Or, if you're just army-level with an affinity for language, you can achieve fluency in about a year. But you have to know yourself because not everyone has the mental endurance to devote that much time to studying something. You bet your ***CENSORED*** a soldier is going to have a lot of discipline, and use that willpower to study (effectively) 8 hours a day for an entire year. If it's just 8 weeks, and the person does it during a home-stay program, he may have the stress-relief available to study 12 hours a day. But realize that at some point, everyone burns out and becomes less effective at learning. Once you know where your point is, you know how to effectively utilize your time, and you know from where to start working on your mental endurance.
Well Amber and Victoria of f(x) learned in that 2 year range because SM being the tough sweat working company..they train their trainees really hard non stop at times anyway. They tell you that in global audtions you gonna go through Korean training before you debut. And If someone wants to learn Korean, they would have to do that same routine, which I don't know how SM does it.
Mafia_Puppet wrote:However, there are also hardcore 8-week immersion courses that are designed to improve your competency stupid-fast. And they do it by utterly surrounding students in the language - they study a bunch of different things (so your mind doesn't lock up) and present material in a lot of different contexts (the average student has to see a word or grammar construct 7 times before he's able to use it effectively, the average AP student 2-3).
Hmm...are there any Korean courses like that (outside of the military), that you can tell me about?
i think it seriously depends on the person and the situation.
some people are just naturally faster at learning languages than others for whatever reason. i know people who have diligently studied languages for years and can barely handle the basics. then you hear about people who can learn any number of languages with no problems (like our hyunwoo ^^).
i also think that if you are in a situation where you HAVE to learn a language, then you will be able to learn it quickly. a person living in korea will probably be able to learn korean faster than someone living in, let's say, kansas, as long as you actually move outside of the english speaking foreigner circle and actually talk to people who either can't or won't speak english with you.
as for me, i have been studying for about 2.5 years and i've never been to korea. i studied A LOT right away - my friends all thought i was obsessed, though i prefer to think of it as being passionate, heh... but it was 6 months before i even met anyone who i could speak korean with. it was probably 1 year before i was able to have a basic conversation with people and understand a bit of what i heard while watching tv.
but then, around the 1.5 year mark, it was like someone just flipped a switch, and i could understand just about anything i heard at native speed, and i could hold a fairly natural conversation about almost anything - my vocabulary still wasn't gigantic, but i could explain what i was trying to say in different words if i didn't know the word for what i wanted to say.
i left nyc about 4 months ago and live in the middle of nowhere - i've literally only spoken korean face to face with someone 4 times since coming here. i was terrified that i would forget everything, but i've been watching so much korean tv (and translating it for fun) that i've been told i've actually improved since leaving. i don't officially study anymore (and haven't for at least a year), i just read or watch tv and look up the words i don't know. i'd say the last year has been all about gaining vocabulary - i had the grammar basics down before that.
so all of that to say, i don't really know how to answer your question - haha! there really is no way to judge "fluency" or how long it will take you to get there, since everyone is different. but keep studying, and keep going, and you will get there. especially if you can find a situation where you NEED to use korean, even if it's just finding someone online to chat with that can't or won't speak english with you - that has been the biggest help for me. ^^
Well...I'm in high-school, and have been learning Spanish at the Advanced Level for four years. The way I learned was emphasis on vocabulary and miniscule grammar in the first year, and then, gradually, over the course of three more years, the emphasis shifted to grammar and less on vocabulary. The way I was taught, the third year explored a TON of grammar (especially the subjunctive/indicative), and then the fourth year was just review of all those grammar concepts.
For some reason, personally, I'm better with grammar than vocabulary, and I think learning grammar is somewhat more important than vocabulary (once you've got vocabulary down, basically). After four years, I'm able to hold a somewhat-basic conversation with a local (although I sometimes have trouble with vocabulary), yet all the grammar concepts that I've learned have come in handy in conversations. I need to practice more, of course, because I still speak slowly.
I can't remember exactly when I started being able to speak fluently...it just sort-of happened gradually. Be PATIENT, and it will come.
Bottom line, in my opinion, learning a language takes about three years, if done right. Of course, PRACTICE, because, as I've learned, all the knowledge doesn't count for anything if you haven't practiced.
Oh, and about the seven-year thing: I disagree. Of course, I'm probably poor in fluency, but I think after four years you are good enough, and if you can't understand everything that's said, you'll understand most of it from what you've learned and the context.
Thanks for posting. It is difficult to give you a specific timeline as each person is different, but if you have the willpower to master Korean and study continuously, you'll be able to achieve your goal. There are various programs in Korea offered not only by universities but various private institutions, and like we stated above, it will depend on your dedication to studies/willingness to learn. Sorry we could not be of more help.
I'm just starting my first Second language but my thinking is especially since Korean only has 40 characters take the time to learn these first that way as you start speaking you will also be able to read. That way you get more practice reading while you learn to speak. I did this and for the most part I can read Korean pretty good but that is in recognizing characters and such but have to learn pronunciation next!!
Just my two cents on this!
Edited to correct the word STUPID out was my STUPID spell checker HA HA
Last edited by Dave76 on May 21st, 2017 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.