Language Learning: An Interview

I wanted to do something a little different in my last Korean class so I decided to interview my teacher on the subject of language learning! I thought it would be an interesting way to practice forming questions and to understand and learn from the experience of someone else who’s doing what I’m doing but in reverse (a Korean native speaker developing their English skills).

I tried to think of some atypical questions based on my own language learning adventures (I’ve always wanted to ask the ‘dumb foreigner’ question to another language learner!). I was a little nervous at first, but as ever my Korean teacher put me at ease. She’s a fantastic instructor and great at English, though she’ll never tell you that herself. In the end it turned out to be really enjoyable and in some cases quite surprising. I realised that I am definitely not alone in my language learning struggles! I got to answer some of my own questions as well, which I wasn’t expecting.

Before the class I didn’t write out the questions in full – I thought I would learn more from the experience by having only some of the vocabulary to hand and making complete sentences on the fly. That way, as in real life, I would have to clarify the questions if my teacher found them confusing or unclear.

In case you’re wondering, the questions I prepared are below. I didn’t get through them all in the hour we had together – time flies when you’re having fun, eh?

어렸을 때부터 언어를 항상 배우고 싶었어요?
Have you always wanted to learn a language?

영어를 [열심히] 배운지 얼마나 됐어요? 처음에 왜 배우고 싶었어요?
How long have been studying English [seriously]? Why were you studying intially?

영어 말고 어떤 다른 언어들을 배우고 있어요? 배우고 싶어요?
Apart from English are there any other languages you are currently learning or want to learn?

영어를 공부하기 위해 왜 미국이 아니라 영국에 갔어요?
Why did you go to the UK rather than the US to study English?

외국어를 배울 때 가장 어려운 일이 뭐에요?
What’s the most difficult thing when learning English?

지금까지 외국어를 배우는 것에 대한 받은 조언중에 가장 좋았던 조언이 뭐에요?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about learning a foreign language?

모국어를 배우고 있는 사람에게 어떤 조언을 주시겠어요?
What advice would you give someone learning your native language?

모국어 말고 가장 아름다운 언어가 뭐예요? 왜요?
Apart from Korean what’s the most beautiful language and why?

한국인에게 어색하게 들린 영어 표현이 뭐에요? 왜 어색해요?
Which English expressions sound strange to a Korean? Why?

한국어를 배우는데 흔히 잘못 알려진 사실이 뭐예요? 왜 한국어를 배우는 사람이 이렇게 많다고 생각해요?
What’s a common misconception that learners have about learning Korean? Why do so many people think this way?

외국인들이 일하기 위해 한국으로 이사할 때 외국인들이 한국어를 배워야 돼요?
When foreigners come to Korea to work should they be made to learn Korean?

외국어로 말할 때 다른 인격이 돼요? (예를 들면은 영어로가 한국어보다 호기심이 더 있다, 자신감이 더 있다, 더 웃기는…)
When you’re speaking English do you adopt a different persona? (For example, are you more inquisitive/confident/funny in English than in Korean) 

영어를 말할 때 가장 자랑스러운 성취를 묘사해 보세요.
Describe your proudest English-speaking achievement.

영어를 말할 때 가장 황당했던 실수를 설명해 보세요.
Describe the most embarrassing mistake you made while speaking English.

세상 전체에서 쓰기/말하기 위해 하나 언어를 골라야 한다면 한국어 말고 어떤 언어를 고르세요?
If you had to choose one language that the whole world had to use for writing/speaking, which one (apart from Korean) would you choose?

영국에 있었을 때 영어를 잘 하는데도 모르는 체해 본 적이 있어요? 어떤 일을 교묘히 피했어요? 어떻게 처벌을 모면했어요?
Even though you could speak English well, when you were in the UK, did you ever feign ignorance (play the ‘dumb’ foreigner?). What did you get away with? How did you get away with it?