Grammarless Speaking

This has been my source of curiosity which I always keep in mind. I have been learning English for years and I have observed some of my classmates, the students I taught, or even myself on how to acquire speaking skills. Sometimes I encountered some learners able to speak fast, seemingly fluent, very native-like at a glance. Nonetheless, when we try to rewind (suppose we record utterances they spoke), we are likely to discover some fundamental grammatical slips, errors, or mistakes that should have been able to be avoided by a student at such level (university level, to be exact). The opposite case is that there are folks who look so cautious while speaking, which finally results in halted, unsmooth speech.It has been a source of debate since long time ago, I guess, whether grammatical accuracy is compulsory in our speaking or not.
Now, I bring the debate here, right on this very post. On one hand, some people are inclined to say that in order to speak fluently and naturally, we must ignore  or at least don’t have to pay attention to grammatical rules and restrictions. On the other hand, the others say quite different an opinion, grammar is needed under any circumstances, including speaking.
So, what about you, readers? Do you really think grammar is important in speaking or not?

Dictionary: How Important Is It for You?

Being a freshman was I at that time. Tons of tasks, piles of assignments, I felt like my body was almost scattered all over. What I still recall was my reluctance to bring a dictionary along. I was an enthusiast learner but when it came to bringing the thick heavy dictionary, I gave up, almost! 
One of my lecturers, though, required all of the students taking his class to  bring the dictionary they have at home or boarding house along. And it was such a burden for me and for any other students as he expelled those who didn’t have it with them from the class. It was humiliating, even only to imagine. I witnessed some classmates were busily borrowing some idle dictionaries at the library  or dictionaries belonging to their friends whenever they realized they forgot taking their dictionary with them. Being expelled rudely from the class wasn’t an option so they’d do anything to escape the public defamation.
These days, however, as I started to teach, I’ve begun to understand why a dictionary is just like a bible or Quran for any of language learners. Dictionary is simply beneficial for us and there’s no doubt about that! In spite of its bulky size, dictionary gives more than we expect to get. Thanks to my lecturer, mr. Ahmad Sofwan, who used to remind us of the importance of dictionary.
I myself never suggest buying a pocket dictionary for those who are seriously eager to learn language, especially English. Pocket-size dict is relatively unburdening for us to bring along anywhere everywhere. The completeness of such pocket dictionary is definitely questionable. So my motto is the bigger, the better.
So far, I’ve purchased some dictionaries, but the one I like most is Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English I just bought last December 2007. Unhappily, the CD software wasn’t compatible with my current operating system, Windows Vista. It’s only for Windows XP and the earlier versions of Windows.
But now thanks to some application developers who are voluntarily giving away their works in the Internet, I can get some amazingly useful e-dictionaries, which almost all students love (because they’re free of charge). Some limitations exist but don’t worry they’re freewares you can use once and for all. Some applications are demo, meaning they’re usable within a certain period of time only. After that, you must purchase codes to activate it. And this is not cool! 
I experimented with some freewares and happened to find these two. The first is Vikrant P. Chavan’s English mobile e-dictionary . The best thing you can get here is its compatibility which encompasses a wide variety of Java platformed mobile phones. So say goodbye to incompatibility issues. You can purchase any new mobile phone you want but can still  have this dictionary embedded in your new phone. Sounds cool, huh?



If you don’t have it yet on your phone, click here to download. After downloading and saving the jar. file (NOT the jad. file) on the hard disk of your computer, simply transfer it to your memory card and install it there, to be safe.
The second is WordWeb, a free mobile monolingual English dictionary. It’s small in size but brings you abundant sources of English learning. Install it on your PC or laptop or netbook, just in case you need it when you have to write English essays or compositions. Or for a blogger who blogs in English like me, this e-dictionary is half of my life. It’s practical and time-saving. With some clicks and typings, I get what I want. ^_^

Top 20 Simple Korean Expressions

Suppose there’s a chart for the most widely and frequently used Korean expressions, I”ll contribute these as the nominees ^_^

  • The first is 사랑합니다 (love you): I’ve watched tons of Korean dramas and this is the word I love to hear.
  • 잘했어요 (good/great): I first knew this as I got my quiz answer sheet. I could answer almost all the questions correctly and my teacher wrote this on my answer sheet.
  • 반갑습니다 (nice to meet you): Say this when we meet someone for the first time after introduction.
  • 안녕하세요? (how’re you?):  The other version of 안녕 하십니까?
  •  실례합니다 ((excuse me): I heard this when 이수정 (하지원- in Memories of Bali) wanted to end the conversation with  정재민 (조인성)
  • 감사합니다 (thanks): It’s another version of 고맙습니다
  • 고마워() (thanks): You can leave the ending 요 or simply say 고맙다
  • 미안합니다 (sorry): the formal version of 미안해(요)
  • 어서오세요 (welcome): A host/ hostess says this to his/her guests
  • 어떻게 지내세요? (how’s it going?): Ask this to someone you haven’t met for a long time.
  • 잘지내요 (allright): this is the answer. You can say the same with interrogative intonation to ask how someone’s going.
  • 또마나요 (see you/ take care): To say good bye when we part.
  • 죄송해요 (excuse me/ pardon me-when you cause inconvenience to someone else): I saw 이수정 (하지원) says this when she meets 정재민 (조인성) at night.
  • 괜찮아요 (fine/OK) : Say this when someone just fell down or gets hurt. There’s a song in 18 vs 29 using this word as the chorus, too!
  • 안돼요 (don’t!-to prohibit someone doing something): 강하나 (played by 김아중) in 200 Pound Beauty screams this when a producer wants her to get some nose job!
  • 들어오세요 (come in): If you’re sitting inside a room, say this to someone outside to come in.
  • 들어가세요 (come in): if you’re outside of the room, and you want someone to come in, say this. 
  • 알았지 (got it?-to make sure someone agrees with you): 강혜원 (한은정) in Full House says this as she wants to make sure the hesitant 이영재(정지훈) not to stay away from her anymore.
  • 싫어 (no way/ I don’t like): After being kissed not on her free will by 정재민, 최영주 (박예진) says this.
  • ? (why)

"THREE BEARS" NURSERY RHYME

Learning a foreign language may be made fun, and singing a song is unbeatably helpful to loosen up a bit the tense nerve we have after memorizing the theoretical discussion.
As I told you before, I once took a Korean course and had a native Korean called Kang Song Hoon as my tutor. At the same time, there was Full House (풀하우스), a Korean drama hit almost everyone knows, aired on Indosiar (2005). I found this drama entertaining and got addicted to watching it daily.

While watching it, I found  a very interesting song (which was sung by Lee Yeong Jae for sad Han Ji Eun). The actor Rain (Bi) had improvized the lyrics of the rhyme but here is the original version my tutor Kang Song Hon wrote for my Korean class. Grab your microphone now and let’s sing!!!




곰스마리
(gom-se-ma-ri)
곰스마리가  한집예있어
(gom-se-ma-ri-ga  han-jib-ye-iss-o)
아빠곰 엄마곰 애기곰
(a-pa-gom eom-ma-gom  ae-gi-gom)
아빠곰은 뚱뚱해 엄마곰은 날씬해
(a-pa-gom-eun tung-tung-ae  eom-ma-gom-eun  nal-ssin-ae)
애기곰은 너무귀여워 으쓱으쓱잘한다
(ae-gi-gom-eun neo-mu-gwi-yeo-weo  eu-ssek-eu-ssek-jal-han-da)



Free translation:
“Three Bears”
There’re 3 bears in a house
Daddy bear, mommy bear, and baby bear
Daddy bear’s fat, mommy bear’s thin
Baby bear’s too cute, shrug shrug, good!

WRITING: TALENT OR SKILL?

I used to think some folks are lucky enough to be born with writing skill. To me, what I feel when seeing people writing lots of short stories,  thick novels, superb blogs is like what an ugly dwarf feels when gazing at a slender, tall, gorgeous figure of Italian model. It’s sad but true, but then it dawned on me that the wretched dwarf can get some adept cosmetic surgeons to make a major, massive, total and thorough change of look! Weird analogy, haha..But the point I’m trying to make here is that writing ability is NOT a rare innate skill. It’s in fact a craft anyone can acquire, learn, study. At least that’s what I read in The Oxford Guide to Writing.

Here, in Indonesia, where anyone is more familiar with oral and audio-visual cultural products like songs, TV series, movies, etc; writing and reading tend to be less prioritized. Not many Indonesians intend to be a writer, author, or blogger, as far as I know. Writing is not taught in Indonesian schools, simply because (in my humble opinion) writing isn’t a skill going to be assessed in the National Examinations or UAN. Why must we sweat for something “unnecessary” to learn? Probably that’s what those elementary and high school students have on mind. The technology development is even aggravating the situation. People don’t write letters anymore, they prefer calling, have a chat/ IM on cell phone, etc.
But apart from what has been said, writing is worth learning. I’m not saying I’m an accomplished writer with lots of successfully published best-seller novels or books. Rather, I take this as  a chance to encourage other people and especially myself, to keep learning how to write well. So? Let’s write, shall we?

SPEAKING ENGLISH FLUENTLY: CAN WE?

I started learning English since my early childhood, but I couldn’t recall what actually I learned the first time I was attracted to it. As my memory can serve, my grandfather and aunts used to watch some Western TV series aired on the first and only state-owned TV station in Indonesia. It was damn fun to watch Remington Steele (Pierce Brosnan was playing detective there), Little House on the Prairie ( the most inspiring American dream story to me), Full House (when the Olsen twin sisters were infants), O’Hara (a story about an Asian martial art guru named O’Hara living in the US), Bonanza (typically-cowboy story with lots of the Indians vs European first settlers conflicts), Silk Stalking , Melrose Place, Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks and a lot more. Most of the series above were broadcast late at night, because you know..some of the scenes were romantic. Kissing, seducing scenes were at times found and they were thus not very appropriate for kindegarten kids like me to watch. But who cares, I did watch. I remember one night I had to stay up late only because I wanted to see Pierce Brosnan with his dashing blonde hair. And I benefited..much, yes much by watching them. Without taking English course before, I could articulate some short phrases frequently used by the actors and actreeses, like “What’s the matter?”, and “What happened?”. The way they spoke the phrases was also unique, quite different from my native tongue, Indonesian. So I promised by heart that someday I’d be able to speak just like those American actors and actreeses did. Based on my own past experience I just told, a foreign language lesson is best given for kids at their early stage of brain development, especially brain part that takes control of their linguistic skill.
So back onto business, I encountered some people who keep asking “what should I do to be able to speak fluently in English?”. Many of us face the same problem and never manage to tackle that. Some make excuse that they simply lack vocabulary, fail to dispel shyness, pay too much attention to their sentences grammatical accuracy, and so on. However, one thing I could take conclusion from is the fear of making mistakes, the mistakes can be mispronunciation, ungrammatical sentences, or any other mistakes which can’t be enumerated here.
Recognizing the key cause may set us free from the unpleasant domino effect in the future. For instance, a huge number of English learners failing to tackle their fear of making mistakes are likely to fail not only in speaking, but other subjects, such as writing, vocabulary, etc.
So why did I tell you my childhood English learning experience ? Simply to remind us that learning a foreign language (not only English) like a child is the best way here. What I’m trying to say here is that most kids are carefree, they don’t have a concept of failure on their mind. To adults, a failure or mistake is something to avoid, something they dread for good. To fail is a sin, to fail is embarrasing and humiliating. But to kids or young learners, making mistakes or failing is not something to mind. Maintaining pride or self-esteem is definitely the least thing they think of. What they know is that they have to enjoy what they do. Whatever they play, they must enjoy that. So can we learn how to be kids again to drive away that unnecessary fear?? Only time can tell.

안녕하세요!

The title above means “How are you?” in Korean. Perhaps that’s the most easily found expression in Korean. And most of the time, Korean teachers teach students how to say this correctly. We’d have to say this by taking a bow as it shows our respect to someone older or strangers we meet.
This blog is about my interest in learning Korean. Started from 2005, I watched one of Korean drama masterpieces; “Full House”. And I was instantly hooked! Song Hye Kyo and Jong Ji Hoon (Rain) fascinated me and after that I was diagnosed as a Korean wave patient.
It was a divine coincidence I saw an announcement on my campus, telling the interested students to enrol a Korean course. The next thing I did was clear. Without hesitance, I dashed to the office and enthusiastically pleaded to be a participant.
The class began and a native Korean appeared. Mr. Kang Song Hoon, that was my sonsaengnim’s(선생님-teacher in Korean) name. He could hardly speak Indonesian or even English. So it was quite a struggle for us (his students) to communicate with him smoothly. He tried to teach well but failed. Don’t know why I simply couldn’t do well in class. It might be caused by my campus business at that time and he seemed to be a novice teacher. The frequency of classes was too low and learning foreign languages, as far as I’m concerned, takes regularity. The more frequent we speak the language, the better our proficiency will be. But at that time I had no source of learning, except the textbook from Seoul National University and my dear sonsaengnim’s poorly-conveyed explanation. But after all, I still miss Mr. Kang. If you really want to know how he looks like, maybe you can find the Japanese character in “Heroes” American Tv series. There you’ll find Hiro (if I’m not mistaken), he simply looks like Kang Song Hoon. Hahaha…