In the past three weeks, I’ve moved to a new city and started grad school. As a graduate student, I am not only taking Applied Linguistics classes–I’m also required to co-teach an introductory English Composition course for international students as well as work as a writing tutor in our university’s Writing Center. It’s been a whirlwind, but after two and a half weeks of classes, I’m finally settling into my new routine.
Now that I’m adjusted to my new schedule and responsibilities, I can now focus on my Korean learning goals. My primary goal, particularly this semester, is to find a Korean language exchange partner (or just a Korean friend in general). My biggest regret during my undergraduate years is that I didn’t make the effort to find any Koreans that I could practice speaking with.
Speaking is my weakest skill right now, primarily because I’ve always been too self-conscious to ever actively seek out a partner to practice with. I believe that the most beneficial method to really improve my speaking ability is to actually have conversations in Korean. Talking to myself and shadowing will only get me so far.
I’ve had one experience with a language exchange partner from my six weeks studying abroad in Seoul last year. Her name was Rachel, and she was awesome. We met up three or four times at a coffee shop, and we spent one hour speaking in English, and one hour speaking in Korean. Before that point, I honestly didn’t even think that I would be able to speak for a whole hour entirely in Korean, but it turned out to not be that difficult. Whenever I got caught in a situation where I couldn’t figure out what word to use or how to express an idea, we would just take a couple of minutes to talk about phrases or words that I could use, I would write them down in my notebook, and then we would move forward in our conversation.
Unfortunately, after I came back to the US, I lost contact with Rachel pretty quickly, so we weren’t able to continue our exchange. But after that experience, I’m definitely more excited to find more language exchange partners and practice my speaking.
I’ve already found a potential language exchange partner through the texting-based language exchange app HelloTalk. He’s a student at the English Language Institute at my university, and he’s already expressed interest in meeting up to practice speaking in English and Korean. I’m hoping to meet with him within the next week or so, and we’ll see how it goes from there. 🙂