Language Exchange Sundays

Every Sunday for the past couple months I have gone to a language exchange at the local Starbucks. I learn about rudimentary Korean, and my new friend Augustus, learns the cobbled together English grammar lessons I remember from elementary school. We trade pronunciation tips, odd explanatory drawings (see below), and sometimes stories from childhood.

"cracked the door open"- demented drawings by katie

“cracked the door open”- demented drawings by me

I don’t know how much I’m helping him, but I’ve already learned quite a bit. I can order a coffee, I can ask someone if they speak english, and I can even ask and understand the price of an item. Impressive, right?


So I can say these things in theory- practice is a very different animal. Pronunciation is a challenge. My mouth will not conform to Hanguel’s rules, (Hanguel is the Korean language). It’s a process.

And there’s the alphabet itself. I still can’t read anything, which leaves me feeling pretty dumb most of the time:


As I explained to my coworker, I understand about 20% of anything that is happening at any given moment. It can be really exhausting sometimes. So I decided that Augustus had to start teaching me the alphabet.


I’m learning the essential vocabulary, like butt

It took over an hour to get through most of the consonants, about half the alphabet.

It’s a process.


One thought on “Language Exchange Sundays

  1. I remember being in Prague in 1992 where there was almost nothing in the 2 languages I could read/understand/speak (English and French). Sometimes it was scary and overwhelming and, then, sometimes it was such a relief to be free of any language constraints and I could “turn off my ears” and just observe and use other senses.

    The only place at all that they had any English was in an art of exhibit of the art made my the children in one of the concentration camps. How much more poignant and heartbreaking it was, I think, because it was the first thing I could read in several weeks. I couldn’t speak for hours after. Still can’t when I let myself go back there in my mind.

    Hang in there! Someday you will look back on this and be surprised all of the life lessons you learned this year…they probably won’t realize them for several more years.

    Liked by 1 person

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