Frustration abounds.....So I am at the counter last week checking in a Korean woman going somewhere domestic in the states, I don't remember where. I started asking her the appropriate "check-in " questions in Korean, she and her male partner where both intrigued as usual, and the typical questions start, "how did you learn Korean", "why do you want to speak Korean", etc. etc. Eventually I say that I have met many Koreans at work and have asked most of them if they could help me study. She immediately turns to her (boyfriend?) friend and says "You can help him", "You will help him". I'm thinking "ohh he has to help me" cause she said so, and sounded very forceful. he takes out a business card and writes his phone number on it.
I give it a few days, and ask him in an email if he is willing to help me and, ofcourse I get the same response that every Korean so far has given me, "Sorry I can't help you, but here are the phone numbers for the local Korean churches". I have spoken to the pastor of one of the two Korean churches here. He was less than thrilled to help me, but said he would find someone who would. That was 3 years ago, and I still havn't heard back from him.
I know all of the Koreans I have met here are professional and they are I am sure often busy, But I wonder if it's something more than that, that makes them not want to tackle tutoring.
Thinking about it, why would they want to? There's no reward for them, I have no money to offer. And it would be time consuming. And they are in the states, maybe it seems kinda backwards to teach Korean here?
I hear your frustration. Yet if I put myself in those people's shoes, I might similarly not be extremely enthusiastic in helping someone I had just met on the street... I think a better bet would be to approach someone you know..and if you don't know any Koreans, to commit yourself to, say, a church or social setup where there are Koreans. Then once you get to know them better, people are generally more willing to help you. If you simply turn up and say, can anyone help me learn korean, chances are you may not get a lot of offers for help...
I found a great way to practice. I went to Meetup.com and found a Korean Meetup group in my area. We meet at a Korean Bakery in San Diego on Wednesday's nights. Korean nationals (mostly college students) and interested Americans pair up and study. Most of the students are here to perfect their english so it is a cultural exchange. There are about 25-30 of us. Sometimes afterwards we go out for Korean food, a litte soju, and sometimes we finish the night off with a couple hours of norebang. 2-3 times a year we go to LA where they have a larger Korean community and go to Korean movies or festivals. We also do things like we went to the beach for the 4th of July. It's fun. So see if you can plug in somewhwere or start your own Meetup. You never know what'll happen! It's a great way to practice.
Don't give up hope John! It'll come together soon. When the times comes when you ARE able to go to a Korean church, don't directly ask for help, - just go to church like usual, then in a casual conversational situation just ask if they could please correct your mistakes when you speak. That's a good start and soon they will be helping you!
The problem I've had is that the college students attend inconsistently amd I have to "start over" each time. But tonight I was paired with a Korean man that is in his 40's, married , kids and used to teach English in S. Korea. He is actually really interested and energetic about teaching me. He plans to come every week. He wants to practice his English. I just hope he will be consistent.
Here are a few other points on Korean difficulty -
- For a westerner, the documented wisdom is that getting anywhere in Korean is going to take you four times as long as it would for a romance language (eg. French, Spanish, Italian).
- There are very few westerners that have learned it and can really help you. I haven't found any resource that I think answers all the questions. When self-studying, for some grammar points I really find that I often need to get three or four different reference and example sources (ie. different books) before I can really get the meaning.
- As an adult learner, getting vocab to stick if you're not immersed (ie. living in Korea) is always going to be hard. The people I've come across who did it were, I think, able to do it because they had a Korean spouse who was engaged in the local community, and didn't have to place a priority on improving their English. As a result, the non-Korean spouse could prioritise Korean language study (and they were also intending to go and live in Korea).
So maybe after four years of casual self study, your progress is actually fine. I suspect this is the case.
I've never encountered a Korean teacher or book that points out it's going to be this hard Having one's expectation set correctly is a big factor, I think.
good point well taken, I must say though that you are correct with the multiple resources theory, I just yesterday realized a very important point of grammar that I had never put together previously, just because I saw it explained differently, and now other books and resources make more sense.