Episode with language learners #1

Honorifics, informal words and polite words of Korean language.

It is well known that a lot of foreign students suffer difficulties for understanding the honorifics and casual words of Korean language. There are honorifics, or polite form of the language, in other languages as well, but they are not as complex as in the Korean language. I have seen some friends who talks either only in informal form or only in honorifics. I have a Spanish friend who still uses only respectful words, so I even begged him to behave more casual.
He uses such polite greetings and farewells, which in English is simliar to saying ‘Hello, my dear friend’ and ‘Farewell and take care’. So I used to tell him to speak more casually, but it seems he can’t get accustomed to casual words. He even leaves comment on Facebook with formal and polite words, like ‘I am truly grateful’, instead of ‘Thanks’ or ‘Cheers’. Well, being polite is much better than being rude, but it feels a little weird, when a close friends talks with me like that.
One day, he playfully said to me ‘good night and take care, dear’, so I told him that I would use equally polite words in his language and said “Que tenga un buen sueño”. He laughed and said that it was a nice revenge. We used make some jokes about our differences of age and language form that should be used, and one day we just talked for awhile in Spanish using the ‘Usted form’(Spanish honorifics).
You may have some difficult and hard moments while studying a foreign language, but I learn from my friends that by making a slight change in thoughts you can always have fun from learning language.
I believe that the language should be learnt for the communication with people, so the communication with people is the best way to enjoy learning language!

Author : Hye-Jin Kim, Ziktalk Korean tutor

Korean tutor story #4

My story as a Korean tutor: Seung-Ae Park

I began my first Korean tutoring about 20 years ago. There was a woman in my church who got married to a Korean guy, and her Korean language was very poor. I wanted to teach her Korean language from the moment I met her, but as both of us had little kids, it was very difficult to allocate time for the lesson. And once I found a textbook for Korean language with Chinese explanations, so I bought two copies of it, gave one to her and I kept the another one. Then I called her once a week to teach Korean using that textbook. I was a rookie teacher who had no idea about teaching, and also she wasn’t the best student. But her Korean improved amazingly over time. After a year her pronunciation became a lot better and she was able to communicate in Korean language freely. Of course, I was so proud of her. I think that experience led me to become a Korean language teacher.

Then I moved to Japan because of my husband’s work. I lived there about 2 years and learnt Japanese language. Studying new language at my age was not an easy task, and I was able to think about language learning process for adults from the perspective of the learner. So when I came back to Korea, I went through the training course for teaching Korean as a second language and acquired the certificate for teaching Korean language.

At first I taught Korean language to immigrant women with Korean spouses at the multicultural center. I was passionate, but a novice teacher who just got her certificate, so teaching Korean to basic level learners by using only Korean language wasn’t an easy task for me. However, thanks to the earnest and serious attitude of learners their Korean got better day by day. I was able to understand how desperate they were, because the Korean language was a vital condition for them to root, live and raise children in this country as proud citizens of Korea. It was a truly rewarding experience.


I have been providing lessons of Korean language for various learners and trying my best to keep my attitude and intention of my first lessons. In 2012, I visited a small country of Moldova in the Eastern Europe. I gave special lectures for the students of the Korean language department in the Free International University of Moldova for a month. There are not many people in Korea are familiar with Moldova, but Korean culture was very popular in Moldova. I was surprised to see Moldavian students singing K-pop songs. At the last day of lecture, I and the students have spent a joyful time. We tried on Hanbok, the traditional Korean attire, and cooked Korean dishes. And some of the students even came to study in Korea.


This is a picture of when I taught the TOPIK for immigrants at the local welfare center. Amongst them 1 student had passed with the 4th level, and 2 students had passed with the 3rd level. When we studied Korean language together, I also provided them with the useful information and tips for living in Korea, and sometimes they even consulted me about their life.

Lately I am providing TOPIK lectures for immigrated teenagers of multicultural families at the Nuri School in the city of Ilsan twice a week. Nuri School is an alternative school for immigrated high school students. As they must acquire 4th level of TOPIK to enter the college, they’re studying very diligently.



Moreover, I have been teaching Korean language for the resident employees of the Japanese company called Tokyo Electron since 2013. Japanese students mostly prefer grammatical explanations and as I can provide thorough explanations in Japanese language, so the learners feel relieved at my lessons and leave positive responses about my lessons. Also I am providing phone call lessons with one of my students.

I always try to teach ‘easily and repetitively’, because I think that language is not learnt as a knowledge that can be reached by research and analyze, but acquired by physical experience.

In the terms of methods, I ask students to organize the words after every class and give a vocabulary quiz at the next lesson. It is an easy and simple way, but the vocabulary memorized repeatedly becomes incredibly helpful later. I always try to provide a tangible goal, so the learner might feel the joy of accomplishment from studying. I think in order to keep focus in work and study, having fun is one of the top priorities.

I am very glad to find out the new system, Ziktalk. I don’t know much about this system yet, but I am anticipating that it might open a new chapter of learning the Korean language. I hope I’ll see you someday. Thank you.

Korean tutor story #3

When I lived in England…

My husband was placed in England as a resident worker, so I had lived in London with my children for 3 and half years. I had some expectations and worries as it was my first time to live outside. And the life in England was much harder in the beginning than I expected. Even though I have been studying English from the middle school, the language barrier was the biggest obstacle for me.

However, my children who even didn’t learn the Alphabets before, began to talk in English after 6 months of attending public school, and even invited their British friends over to hang out even though they still had some problems with communication.

And I heard that people at the church are friendlier to new people, compared to the most of people in Britain, who are known to be rather indifferent, quiet and reluctant to befriend foreign people. So I decided to attend the local English church. Well, I was more interested in making friends, rather than the religion.

I was feeling lonely before, but at the church I met the grandmas who treated me as their own daughter and befriended with people of my age. And thanks to them I was able to learn about the British culture and English language. I still remember them as warmhearted people who treated me as one of them and tolerated my broken English and bad pronunciation.

So I would like to say that the best way to learn the language is to take courage, befriend the local people and be the part of their society. As my British friends understood and tolerated the cultural difference, as a Korean teacher I will as well understand and tolerate the other cultural backgrounds to help my students to open their mind for the communication.


Korean tutor story #2

I always advice my students living in Korea to not only focus in learning the Korean language, but also to experience the Korean culture itself. And I urge you to feel the Korean culture. I recommend you, for example, to make and taste the Korean food, study Korean manners and customs, visit famous sites of Korea, like the palaces, museums, memorials and other places, where you can study the tradition and history of Korea. (Also listen to the explanations of the guide, if there is one who speaks your language.) Such experience will help you to learn and understand Korean language and culture in its natural way.

So I used to plan field trips in my curriculum about once in two months for the students who can’t afford such opportunities, and we traveled around the Seoul city or went outside the city to visit places mentioned above. Students had enjoyed such experience a lot.

And as I acquired the instructor certification for foods for kids, I have decided to teach Korean home meals for Japanese people who are interested in Korean cuisine. I prepared curriculum based on various materials in Korean language, so people could learn Korean cuisine and specific words used in cookery, which are hardly taught in Korean lessons.

Also at the end of every cooking lesson we gathered around, shared the food and tried to express their thoughts about the cooking and the taste in Korean. Also students could take away the food we made today. They really had fun and were satisfied during the classes.

Korean tutor story #1

Hello there, Dear Ziktalk users!

I’m Eun-Young Park and I’m living in Seoul, Korea.
I began teaching when I was on working holidays in Australia. I stayed there for an year and met many friends who wanted to study Korean language. So I talked a lot with the friends in Australia who majored or studied Korean language. So it seems that my Korean has got a lot better than my English. Well, from this experience I would like to share my tips to improve Korean!

1. Find common interests!

Topics are important to keep your conversation going, no matter you are fluent in Korean or not. Because you might easily distract from conversation and get tired of practicing Korean, if you’re talking about things that you are not interested. Try to switch conversation topics from time to time!

2. Use popular Korean social media!

Make new friends in Korea and have fun with them! I have an Australian friend who likes to hang out with Korean friends. He loves to make new friends and text with them on Kakaotalk, Facebook and other social platforms that are popular in Korea. And his Korean has improved very quickly thanks to the active on-line communication with his friends. I think it is a very efficient method.

3. New vocabulary? Look it up yourself first!

If your teacher tells you the meanings of new vocabulary right away, you might forget those words and phrases very easily! When you are studying Korean vocabulary, you should look it up yourself first, and then check again for the exact meaning when you’re with your Korean teacher. It will make you easier to remember.


These are my tips of learning Korean language. And of course I will use them in my lessons too.

So if you would like to study Korean with me, you know where to find me!