Monday, February 7, 2011

How to trick your students into thinking you're fluent in Korean.

For those of you who take me seriously always (big mistake), I'm not sure I actually condone tricking your students into thinking you're fluent in Korean. It's good for your students to see someone they look up to learning a language; it's inspiring to them. And whether you realize it or not, learning a language while you're teaching a different language really helps your lesson planning. How better to know how to teach a skill than by simultaneously being a student for a paralleling skill?

However, one of the key advantages for being a foreigner learning Korean is that the little bits you do use in the classroom not only gain control, but awe your students into literally jaw-dropping wonderment.

I'll stop rambling and cut to the chase.

1. Sit down please. 앉으세요. (an-ju-seyo).

This is the more polite version, but if you really want to get to the point and/or some little stinker is causing you grief, 앉아 (an-ja) will do.

2. Speak louder please. 크게말해세요. (ku-gey mal hey-seyo).

Just 'louder' (크게 or ku-gey) will also do... the other great thing about using Korean with students is that you can be fairly informal because you are their superiors. If classroom Korean is all you desire to learn, these phrases are sure to be some of the easiest.

3. Correct! 맞아요! (ma-ja-yo!) or shortened for students can also be: 마자! (ma-ja!).

4. It's also good to have a working sense of numbers up to 35, as student numbers are often used to call on random kids (very effective if a class is virtually silent, or if you want to instill a healthy dose of fear into their little hearts). There are 2 number systems in the Korean language, but the one you will need to know for student numbers (ordinal numbers) can be found here, at Talk to Me in Korean (Level 1, Lesson 15).

5. While you're at it, here's some basic classroom vocabulary:

Student- 학생 (hak-seng)
Teacher 선생님 (seon-seng-nim)
Chalk- 분필(boon-pil)
Paper- You may be using 2 different words for paper in the classroom. 종이 (jong-ee) is literally 'paper.' However, (jang) 장 is the counter used to talk about paper in the context of, "A piece (장) of paper (종이)".*
Period- 마침표 (mah-chim-pyo)

Lastly, please don't be afraid to use this one:

6. I only speak a little Korean. 한글말조금해요. (hangul-mal-jo-gum-hey-oh). Because it's important to know how to express this sentiment when your students get excited that you have the magical power of 'Korean Speak' and they start barrelling you with questions in Korean.

*UPDATE: I would like to thank Marie Frenette for adding (and improving) some useful information to this post. You can find some other useful classroom Korean phrases in the comments section below.
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  1. "How better to know how to teach a skill than by simultaneously being a student for a parallelling skill?"

    It's as if you read my application essay! Well said, and good post.

  2. I hope you don't mind me adding these few comments. I was an English teacher for 2 years and have been studying Korean for the past 5, so I just wanted to share my thoughts :)

    First of all, I like the concept and the content of this post. I'm sure it will be quite useful to teachers.

    I would just like to add a few comments and correct some mistakes with the Korean you noted.

    First of all, when speaking Korean sometimes it's confusing when to use formal language and when not to. The general rule is if the person is younger than you you can speak informal language. But when you don't know them well, or if you are lecturing, that doesn't really apply. It is considered polite and professional to speak to your students in formal language in a lecture (regardless of how young they are). When you talk directly to one child outside of class you may choose not to use formal language. I think noting that in your post would be helpful. Of course people will forgive you, but with just a bit more effort you can get respect instead of forgiveness.

    Corrections on the Korean:

    correct is spelled 맞아요 (pronounced 마자요)
    paper is 종이, not 장. 장 is the counter used to talk about paper like "A piece (장) of paper (종이)".

    한국말 조금(Korean little) is not wrong, but why not just say one more word and make it a sentence? 한국말 조금 알아요 (Korean little know, I know a little Korean).

    Here are some more useful phrases.

    잘 했어요- You did well/good job
    다시 한 번 해보세요- Please try again.
    조용해주세요- Please be quiet.
    손 들어주세요- Please raise your hand(s).

    Keep up the great work!