Hello everyone! My name is Matthew and I am a resident of Seoul. Like many other expats here, I have tried for many years to get a grip on the Korean language. Unfortunately, practicing stilted conversations in paid classes taking place in sterile classrooms over the years has never quite done the trick. In fact, until about 3 months ago, and after many years of fumbling around, my Korean was still limited to discussing prices, commenting on weather, and telling taxi drivers where to go.
In March of this year, I moved to a neighborhood in Seoul where virtually nobody speaks English. Moreover, I moved into a rooftop apartment that desperately needed fixing up. It was dirty, small, full of wasted space, equipped with garden beds of barren soil, overrun with cockroaches. Mildew crept beneath the vinyl flooring, and the ratty plywood kitchen furniture (the kind you see in most non-luxury apartments here) was so sticky with years of accumulated grime that even with steel wool the stuff couldn't be scrubbed off. It was a fixer-upper, and I was extremely motivated to fix it up.
In order to do so, I had to tear things down and build them back up, which required a lot of intensive shopping in my neighborhood. Instead of just asking after prices, I had to discuss things like measurements, weights, proportions, purposes, methods, mismatches, and complex problems. Every time I went out on a sortie to buy wood, hardware, soil, seeds, and various other kinds of supplies, I had to apply full concentration to the task of communicating with the shop owners I was dealing with. No books, no quizzes, no boxlike classrooms, but rather real situations where the only test of my progress was how quickly and easily I could get what I needed and bring it back home. As the weeks wore on, something amazing happened: the shop owners, who at first had treated me with grudging tolerance, started calling me "friend", telling me about their lives, where their children were going to school, how much they had had to drink last night. We started having real conversations, and they began to correct my mistakes. In about 3 months, my Korean has shot up at least 1000 percent. And it's all because I was using the language while engaged in something I really cared about.
So I started thinking, if this worked for me, then it can work for anybody. Why butt your head against the walls of the conventional classroom? Why not learn the natural way -- by using the target language in the process of doing something that you really care about and enjoy? So the idea came to me of starting an activity-based language school.
The result is Mt. Sumeru Language Exchange Club, a non-profit effort to bring people of all nationalities together in order to learn each others' languages. Based in Bogwang-dong (between Itaewon and the Han River), Sumeru Club is gradually building steam. First classes will start on Wednesday, July 4, the target activity being jewelry making. The following week we will introduce sports and nutrition-intensive cooking. Participants will learn each others' languages by communicating their way through the activity. There will be no fee, but participants will be asked to help cover costs of materials, if any (e.g. food ingredients, etc.)
If you really want to learn Korean in a fun and natural way, please send me an email at the address listed in my profile. Or you can call me at 010-5540-9371.
Let me know your available times and especially your interests. The sky is the limit! Trust me, if I can learn Korean, then so can you. And once you begin to really learn the language, it's amazing how your world here can change. Please get in touch.