When trying to improve on my basic Korean reading skills, I’ve made an effort to move towards using more ‘real world’ material.
It’s not that textbooks aren’t helpful (if you’re asking, my staple is the excellent Korean Grammar In Use Beginner book). However, I do want to start bridging the gap between the short sentences in my textbook and passages of text that are more representative of how Korean writing is really constructed.
I was in Kyobo Bookstore a few weeks ago looking for reading material with parallel text in Korean and English. It seemed very hard to find anything that fit the bill until I realised my mistake: I was looking in the Korean language learners’ section.
Think about it: Given that in Korea, there will always be more native Korean speakers learning English than vice versa, shouldn’t I be looking in the English language learners’ section? There’ll be countless story books and scripts with translations there, right?
Kyobo did not disappoint: at every level of difficulty there were Graded Readers and novels with parallel texts. Flip the pages around and – presto! – your very own reading and translation material.
I am currently reading ‘유머 영어 (Humor English)‘, a selection of anecdotes and jokes. OK, if you’re not into ‘there was a man in a bar’-style comedy it might fall a little flat, but it’s barely A5-size and only a few of the stories run longer than a page.
It’s at a level that I find challenging but by no means impossible… oh and did I say that it’s only 3,000 won?
Now I can read and annotate the Korean, cross-reference it with the English if necessary and then put new words to work in my flashcard app! I might even try some basic translation from English to Korean later.
Best of all? The Korean dude I sat next to on the bus who clocked the book and whispered: ‘Wait… You’re… learning English?!’