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The Awesome Difficulty of Korean, Finnish

  Tags: Anki | Finnish | Korean
 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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Evita
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Latvia
learnlatvian.info
Joined 3683 days ago

734 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 1 of 559
24 April 2012 at 3:53pm | IP Logged 
Hi everyone, welcome to my log!

As the title says, I'm studying Korean and Finnish. I'm a beginner in both though my Finnish is definitely better - as it should be, considering how long I've studied it.

This is my second language learning log. I started the first one for the TAC 2008 (it was about learning Finnish) and I'm ashamed to admit I didn't reach my goal. I thought I could do it but I lost my motivation so everything stopped. In the three years that followed, I forgot almost everything I had learned.

I don't want to write too much about myself, it's all in the old log - or, I should say, I think it's in the old log because I don't remember very well what's in there and what's not and I have no desire to reread it (knowing how it will end). Let me just say that I've been doing graduate studies (not language-related) and now I'm looking for a job. In the meantime, I have a lot of free time so I thought studying languages would be a good way to spend it. I love languages, and in addition to those in my profile I also know Spanish to an intermediate level and I've also studied French for 3 years at school (it was not very productive though).

So why am I studying Finnish and Korean? For Finnish, the answer is much the same as it was 4 years ago - it's an interesting and challenging language and its sound is somewhat similar to Latvian. Plus I already started it 4 years ago and I don't like to admit defeat. So I hope this time the result will be better (at least an intermediate level) than last time.

The story of Korean is more interesting, I guess. Last Summer I had some free time and I was reading the forums, and I noticed that lots of people seemed to be studying Asian languages. I had never really considered it because I had no reason to learn any of them but suddenly I thought "Hey, maybe this would be fun!" So I did some research on Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, and the choice was easy for me. First, because I had actually heard Korean before (on the TV show Lost) and I liked the way it sounded. Second, I found the Talk To Me In Korean website and I quickly realized it would be fun to learn using it. Third, Korean has an actual alphabet (which I hadn't expected) so that's great. The fact that it's considered one of the most difficult languages to learn for Westerners is just an added bonus.

Basically, I will learn both Korean and Finnish for the sense of achievement I will hopefully get out of the process and the result (and also for the boasting privileges, of course, hehe). Also, maybe I'll have an opportunity somewhere down the road to put this knowledge to practical use because, let's be honest, I don't think there are many people who can speak both Latvian and Finnish, and even less so for Latvian and Korean.

I will write more about how my studies have been going so far and what materials I am using in my next posts.
7 persons have voted this message useful



Evita
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Latvia
learnlatvian.info
Joined 3683 days ago

734 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 2 of 559
25 April 2012 at 2:31pm | IP Logged 
Korean

I spent two weeks studying Korean last Summer before I got distracted with university stuff and other things. During that time, I listened to the first 8 lessons of TTMIK and tried to learn the Korean alphabet. If I'm honest, learning the alphabet was (and still is) harder than I expected. I think it's because I overestimated my abilities. I thought "Well, I can already read Latin and Cyrillic letters, how difficult could it be to learn another set?" But the truth is, I learned to read Russian when I was 7 years old, at school, so I have no memory of how I accomplished it. And Korean letters are so... different.

So I resumed my Korean studies about a month ago. I listened to the TTMIK podcasts again - and then some more - until the language finally began clicking a bit for me. Korean is the first language I'm studying that has the subject-object-verb word order so it takes a lot of time to get used to it. I don't think I'm there yet.

I had planned to use the TTMIK podcasts and lesson notes as my only material, at least for a while. I copied the new words from each lesson into a separate document so I could study them later, and I made a separate document for verbs and their various forms. It was going great. Rather slowly, yes, but I was happy with my progress. And then, in lesson 14 I think, they said something in Korean at the start of the lesson and didn't explain it. I was annoyed. Then, when they kept doing it in the next lessons, I figured it must be some kind of greeting or something but I couldn't for the life of me figure it out. That's when I realized maybe I should find another resource for my Korean studies. (I am now pretty sure they were introducing themselves using the 'imnida' expression but they hadn't covered it in their lessons so it's no wonder I didn't pick up on it.)

So I started looking for a good book. I got electronic versions of "Elementary Korean" and "Beginner's Korean", both of which had good reviews here and elsewhere. I looked at them for a bit but they both seem very intimidating. Then I found My Korean and I like it the best so far. It's the most reader-friendly and it explains things in the simplest terms. I'm sure it covers far less material than the other books I mentioned but I think it's the best fit for me right now.

And this takes me back to the problem of reading. I've learned the alphabet, I know the letters but they don't come to me automatically yet. Reading is painfully slow. I see a letter and I have to think for a second or two to remember how to pronounce it, not to mention remembering all the rules depending on the first letter of the next syllable. I know it's just a matter of practicing more so my goal for the next two weeks is to practice reading every day and to get more comfortable with the Korean alphabet. Fortunately, My Korean is well suited for that, it has several dialogues in each lesson with accompanying audio files.

I had planned to write about my Finnish woes, too, but writing this post has already taken too much time so I'll leave Finnish for tomorrow.
1 person has voted this message useful



Warp3
Senior Member
United States
forum_posts.asp?TID=
Joined 2666 days ago

1419 posts - 340 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Korean, Japanese

 
 Message 3 of 559
25 April 2012 at 10:49pm | IP Logged 
Evita wrote:
And this takes me back to the problem of reading. I've learned the alphabet, I know the letters but they don't come to me automatically yet. Reading is painfully slow. I see a letter and I have to think for a second or two to remember how to pronounce it, not to mention remembering all the rules depending on the first letter of the next syllable. I know it's just a matter of practicing more so my goal for the next two weeks is to practice reading every day and to get more comfortable with the Korean alphabet.


I remember that battle well from my Korean studies (including the fun parts like getting your brain to process ㄴ as an "n" sound rather than an "L" sound). The only real fixes are (a) more practice reading and (b) learning more vocabulary (so your brain can start to process more words as entire words rather than the slower method of random strings of letters).

One of the reasons I've taken the effort to learn the Japanese Kana and Russian Cyrillic character sets is to get used to them before tackling the language in question. Unfortunately, since I'm not actually learning either language yet, they don't stick nearly as well as they would if I were attaching them to words and then seeing those words in print frequently.



Evita
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Latvia
learnlatvian.info
Joined 3683 days ago

734 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 4 of 559
26 April 2012 at 12:06am | IP Logged 
Yes, you are right. My problem is that initially I put too much emphasis on listening comprehension (with the TTMIK podcasts). It was easier for me to memorize how a word sounded than how it was written, and besides, their PDF's are mostly in English anyway so there were not many opportunities to practice reading. If we look at my Korean vocabulary as a whole (which is ridiculously small, probably less than 50 words) I'm more likely to recognize a word if I hear it rather than if I see it printed. If I start to read it and sound it out in my head then I'll probably recognize it too but it will not happen right away. Obviously this is not good so I'm working on improving it.

So I was practicing reading today and every two minutes I wanted to abandon it because of how slowly it was going. And I also had the problem that I instantly forgot what I had just read. I would read a phrase of 7 syllables and then not even remember it! And the second reading would take me almost as long as the first one. After the fifth time, maybe I finally remembered it so I moved on to the next sentence. Five minutes later, I read the first phrase again and it's like I'm reading it for the first time. Okay, maybe I'm slightly exaggerating but it's really frustrating. I tried listening to the audio but it didn't help because it was too quick. Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better.

It's funny that you say you wanted to pronounce ㄴ as L. That doesn't happen to me, I always mix up ㄴ and ㄱ because to me they look like the same letter, only turned 180 degrees. I also often mix up ㅓ and ㅏ, they look very similar to me.



Ojorolla
Diglot
Groupie
France
Joined 2096 days ago

90 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: French*, English

 
 Message 5 of 559
26 April 2012 at 1:39pm | IP Logged 
ㄴ and ㄱ stand for the shapes of your tongue when you say those phonemes. I think it's crucial to know and read Hangul in your current stage because you most likely can't tell apart different Korean phonemes yet, only hearing them.
1 person has voted this message useful



Evita
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Latvia
learnlatvian.info
Joined 3683 days ago

734 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 6 of 559
26 April 2012 at 5:54pm | IP Logged 
Ojorolla, thank you, I know what the shapes stand for but unfortunately it doesn't help me remember them better. But no worries, I'll get there eventually.

Finnish

In 2008, I was studying Finnish from a Russian book. Now, a month ago when I resumed my studies, I repeated all the earlier lessons and a lot of stuff came back to me rather quickly. The good thing about the book is that it presents grammar in a clear and concise way, it doesn't beat around the bush. And grammar is a difficult part of Finnish, especially noun inflections and when to use which case. So the grammar explanations are good in the book but there's one thing it doesn't have - answers to exercises. I am in unit 5 now, in which they introduce three cases (Inessiivi, Elatiivi and Illatiivi) and after reading the short texts I felt I needed much more practice. The book does have quite a lot of exercises but it seems a little pointless to do them when no one checks my answers. I do some of the easier exercises but not most of them.

So I've been looking for some grammar exercises with answers on the internet but I can't find anything. I did find two excellent posts here and here with links to many Finnish resources and I've been trying out some of them. In contrast to Korean, most of my Finnish studies have been reading and writing, not listening, but I find that I have no problem with Finnish listening comprehension. It sounds so familiar to my ears, I really enjoy it. My main goal right now is to build more vocabulary and to become more familiar with the Genitive case and the consonant changes. Genitive is important because it's used to build other cases. I'm not really sure how to achieve that, though, other than to memorize all the examples from my book.

Speaking of vocabulary, I'm using Anki for my Finnish studies. I am using it only in production mode, I'm not using it for recognition. I add words to my deck myself, the words I come across in my book or in an internet resource. This has been an excellent tool for me. The trick is not to add too many words at once to keep the reviews manageable. My current limit is 10 new cards a day, and I don't go over 40-50 a week. I want to keep it nice and easy for me, about 30 reviews a day. Since I resumed my studies, I've only missed one day of reviews. I like Anki, it disciplines me and it's a great tool for building vocabulary. My current card count id 280. There are days when I don't do any Finnish studying but I always try to do the Anki cards.



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 3728 days ago

9745 posts - 6163 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 7 of 559
26 April 2012 at 8:04pm | IP Logged 
I posted my favourite links here :) There are lots of exercises at Suomea ole hyvä :)
Seems like you're using the same book that I used as a beginner some 7 years ago :) Probably a newer edition though, which is good as the one I have (the 2nd I think) has quite a lot of typos.
When the exercises weren't enough I'd just make my own sentences. If you understand the rule in general and don't reread them, it's fine if there are some mistakes here and there. You can also post your answers here, even just the number and word form, without typing up the whole sentence:) I'll check them:)

As for Anki, if you add the words you've seen in a natural context, it might be a good idea to add the whole phrase/sentence. especially at this level, for many words you need information about which case to use with it and how to use it in different cases.

for example:

Q: Pidän suomen _____.
A: kielestä (basic form: kieli)



And as for the genitive, Rouva Tsernjavskaja's terms are actually incorrect. Finnish words have two types of stems, the vowel stem and the consonant stem. Each in turn can be strong or weak (ie consonant gradation). It might be less intimidating to focus on one thing at a time, for example to learn what the vowel stem (she calls it the genitive stem) is like in various words where there's no consonant gradation. Or to focus on the consonant gradation first and practise it in verbs as well.
Gah I'm jealous. After Finnish, any new grammar seems so awkward, illogical and boring :S even Esperanto isn't as logical. I love grammar but I no longer like studying it, lol.

Edited by Serpent on 26 April 2012 at 8:04pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



Evita
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Latvia
learnlatvian.info
Joined 3683 days ago

734 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 8 of 559
26 April 2012 at 11:59pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
I posted my favourite links here :) There are lots of exercises at Suomea ole hyvä :)

Wow, even more links for me. Awesome. Thank you.

Quote:
Seems like you're using the same book that I used as a beginner some 7 years ago :) Probably a newer edition though, which is good as the one I have (the 2nd I think) has quite a lot of typos.

Yes, I remember this conversation from my old log, haha. My book is the third edition from year 2004.

Quote:
When the exercises weren't enough I'd just make my own sentences. If you understand the rule in general and don't reread them, it's fine if there are some mistakes here and there. You can also post your answers here, even just the number and word form, without typing up the whole sentence:) I'll check them:)

Thank you for the offer. I wouldn't like to make a habit out of posting grammar exercises here but I may post the occasional question or doubt.

Regarding exercises, the kind I need answers to is this: "Here's a phrase (iso keittiö, for example), please write it in Elatiivi (or some other case)." But the good news is - I just did some more research on the internet and I realized I can check the important cases for nouns and adjectives in the Finnish Wiktionary. Maybe you know a site that has full declension tables for every word?

Quote:
As for Anki, if you add the words you've seen in a natural context, it might be a good idea to add the whole phrase/sentence. especially at this level, for many words you need information about which case to use with it and how to use it in different cases.

for example:

Q: Pidän suomen _____.
A: kielestä (basic form: kieli)

I never add phrases or sentences to Anki, and I also never add grammar there. The reason for not adding grammar is that I like to study grammar in different ways (which are hopefully more effective for me). The reason for not adding phrases is that I don't like redundant information, I'm very minimalist that way. And I also like to use Anki as a measure of my vocabulary size.

You have a point though that I should create a system to learn which verb is followed by which case, and probably also for prepositions (like luona). I'm thinking a spreadsheet might do the job. I use it for Korean verb conjugations and I like it so far.

Quote:
And as for the genitive, Rouva Tsernjavskaja's terms are actually incorrect. Finnish words have two types of stems, the vowel stem and the consonant stem. Each in turn can be strong or weak (ie consonant gradation). It might be less intimidating to focus on one thing at a time, for example to learn what the vowel stem (she calls it the genitive stem) is like in various words where there's no consonant gradation. Or to focus on the consonant gradation first and practise it in verbs as well.

Hmm. Four stems for every word? Okay. I think I prefer to get the whole picture at first and then to dive into details. Right now, from what I've read in the book, it all sounds so arbitrary: "For cases A and B, you have to use the strong stem, for C and D you have to use the weak stem. Oh, but the weak stem turns strong if you add a possessive suffix to the word." At the moment I don't understand why the rules are the way they are and I think it's hindering my learning quite a bit. I'm still hoping there might be a big, unifying idea behind it all. I'll look into some grammar resources on the internet to try to make sense of it all.



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