PUSH-UPS, CRUNCHES, COFFEE, TRANSLATION — it’s all a part of the new morning regimen. By 7 am I’m sitting sleepily in front my laptop, arms sore as the screen glows with headlines from Yonhap. A notebook on my desk and pen in hand, I scribble down unfamiliar Korean vocabulary.
I flip quickly between browser tabs; article, dictionary, article.
And I think to myself: I should have been doing this for years. I’m struggling now because I’ve let my second language get rusty — let myself be overwhelmed by daily demands and excuses. This is the great re-focusing, a test of self-discipline.
(Silently, I worry if it’s sustainable.)
A great daunting mass of foreign words has stood between my actual language abilities and true fluency for some time. The grammar, the basics, even the colloquialisms feel well ingrained by now — but I’m still drowning in an ocean of vocabulary. What I don’t know could (and does) fill a book.
So this is my recipe for fluency, I hope:
Read one Korean-language news article — aloud, twice. List every word I don’t know, then look it up. Listen to one Korean-language news broadcast — twice. Identify names, numbers and unknown words. Make flash cards for all new words. Take a break. Review flash cards. Speak as much Korean as I can (even to myself). Go to work. Eat. Blog. Sleep. Repeat.
As my anticipation for moving abroad grows, it’s all I can do to resist regretting the time I didn’t spend working towards this goal. Willpower takes time to forge, I tell myself, and learning the intimacies of any language is a process that takes years. And so I keep on keepin’ on, sewing meaning to sounds, sounds to letters — sticking words in my head and hoping that they’ll stay.