Learning Korean in Belgium is a challenge. You don’t get a lot of real life practice in when everyone around you doesn’t really speak Korean. Of course, I have one advantage that many others: my partner is Korean. Time to really start putting that advantage to work I would say. That is why I’m going to slowly ‘Koreanize’ my life starting with groceries.

Koreanizing My Life

I have learned Korean for more than two years now. It is a difficult, yet exciting journey. Learning Korean is the struggle, one I feel has come to a standstill. While I am still picking up grammar and vocabulary, I feel I’m not really improving that much. I think every language learner has those moments at some point. Time for a radical change in how I’m doing things.

[pullquote-left]”Koreanizing” my life means always speaking Korean at home instead of my native language.[/pullquote-left]

As most of you I learn using various books and whatever I can find on the internet. It really does a great job. Yet, it doesn’t do a full job. Language isn’t something that is only written and read, but it also something that is spoken and listened to. That is probably something I severely ignored so far. Time to change that.

It is therefore time to start “Koreanizing” my life. What I mean by that is slowly use Korean as our household language, not my native language Dutch. Yet, suddenly changing it is way too a daunting prospect, so I am going to slowly bring that change to my life. I still need to be able to manage my life, you know.

Groceries and Cooking

The first step in my “Koreanizing” effort is to always speak Korean while doing the groceries. Doing the groceries is a small, daily activity so I think that is a great start. Plus conversations often involve talking about food so It would be preparing me for those kind of small talks as well. I call that killing two birds with one stone.

However, doing that is a lot easier said than done. While I know a bit of Korean vocabulary and have become acquainted with various grammar constructions, it might still not be enough. The first dozen times will be grueling experiences where more I often won’t understand my Korean partner. However, if I persist I’m sure my Korean will eventually improve all of a sudden.

Saying I want to do something is easy enough, but to do this I need put some effort in it. I need to learn a lot of vocabulary and grammar focused on the theme at hand.

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Vocabulary Lists & Recipes

How to prepare for this Koreanizing push has been a bit of conundrum, but I think I have a good idea how to go about it. While the real goal is increasing my speaking and listening proficiency, I can still employ reading and writing to lock in vocabulary and grammar. That is what I’m going to do to prepare myself for this first hurdle of doing groceries in Korean.

The first part of it all is collecting vocabulary; a lot of vocabulary. Before this I didn’t really think a lot about it, but there is a surprisingly large vocabulary involved in doing groceries. Of course, the obvious things are the nouns for all products, but that isn’t all of it. You also use a lot of verbs and adjectives; a lot of them. Learning a lot of words requires a consistent effort. To do that I’m going to compile vocabulary lists together and use Memrise to drill it into my head.

That first step, however, can only do so much. You only truly understand a word once you get used to using it. Of course, I will get plenty of real use every day when doing groceries. Yet, I think I can push out a bit extra use out of a lot of those words. A big part of groceries is food. There another daily activity that uses the food we buy: cooking! Therefore I’m thinking of writing down recipes of the Korean dishes I make. I think writing them down in Korean would give a nice additional use out of the words I’m learning, no?

What are your thoughts on this idea? I would love to hear them in the comments below. If you want to help by sharing your favorite word related to food, shopping, etc,… give me a shout!