April 30, 2006
Hanja as a motivation tool
I did not know it would happen this way, but it has. This is the brief story of how I regained my motivation to study the Korean language, and languages in General...
First I met a man my age intensely studying Japanese at the coffee shop. He studies daily and has been fun to talk to about linguistics and language learning, AND the commonalities between Japanese and Korean. So we've been talking since about January off and on. His enthusiasm and determination is inspiring. It's catchy you know?! He has the same attitude toward language learning I had in the first two semesters of Korean at the U. In the third semester I lost much of my motivation for learning. I like my new friends attitude. "Can't" is not part of his vocabulary. He's methodical and experimental. When one thing doesn't work, he tries another. He uses both traditional flashcards and watches newscasts and movies. He also listens to audio and practices speaking out loud. Many of these language learning techniques prove to be useful.
He's been studying Hanja, or Chinese characters. He has all of radicals memorized and can look things up in the character dictionary. It was very interesting for me. Yesterday I went to Half-Price Books in the Highland Park business district and ta-da! I found a Korean/Hanja book. It covers the 1800 chinese characters taught in Korean schools, along with the corresponding Hangul. Very cool. My task for today was to learn the Hanja characters for the Korean days of the week. Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Tree, Gold and Earth. As an additional learning tool, I stopped by a local store where the Chinese shop owner wrote the actual Chinese equivalent of the days of the week, which turns out are the numbers one through seven with the addition of the character for the word 'day', ie. 'day one,' 'day two,' 'day three,' etc.
Anyway, after studying Hanja for a day, I can write these seven characters fairly well by memory. It's motivating and encouraged me to study more. I like it. I think my motivation has been building, because languages really are fun. The thoughts and feelings of people are shared with others through language. I don't think it was the Hanja itself that motivated me but it definately pushed me over the top. Learning the history of Chinese characters was very fascinating and interesting. There are over 50,000 chinese characters, but really only about 4,000 are necessary to be fairly fluent in the common every day language. One thing that is interesting to me is how about 60 percent of the Korean vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese. I love practicing and writing these very specific symbols, that have very specific writing directions. One of my goals with this is to make an artistic calendar of the days of the week in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Hanja using symbology and imagery related to the meanings of the characters. Fun. I am excited by the possibilities and the creative side of learning.
You can't be 63326 serious?!?
Posted by: Max Ballstein at August 24, 2006 5:50 PM