February 10, 2010 | Korean
A snow day shuts down schools, except at our place, where I keep studying.
It is a true snow day in New York City! City schools are closed, and parents everywhere are despondent and/or desperate.
I am doing Pimsleur and watching the snow fall outside our living room windows. Currently I am on lesson 8, Level 1, and I continue to confront pronunciation challenges. Namely, so far I can’t tell the difference between m and b, n and d, and l and r. When the native speakers in the Pimsleur lessons pronounce words with these sounds, sometimes the words sound radically different from one instance to the next. For example, “restaurant” in Korean is a loan word from English, and it sounds alternately to me like “lestolan” and “restoran.” That makes it difficult for me to imitate the pronunciation correctly.
I have been going to bikram yoga classes lately. This is the kind of yoga you do in a heated room of over 100 degrees. It is not for everyone.
The other night my instructor, Jason, was gearing us up for one of the balancing postures. I don’t know the name of it yet, but you are supposed to shift your weight to your right leg, straighten that leg, lock your knee, then curl over and grab your left foot from underneath. Then you balance there for a while on your right foot, continuing to hold onto your left foot, and then you extend your left foot and leg straight out in front of you, still balancing. (This last piece is currently beyond me.)
The reason I mention this bikram pose is that people, including me, sometimes fall over as soon as they try to grab their foot, before they even get into position. Jason kept calling out, “Don’t think about it; just do it!” I found this advice remarkably helpful; I relaxed, turned off my brain, and instantly did better at keeping my balance. I reflected on how the same principle could be applied to my language studies. Overthinking something, even something mental, is not always helpful. And I do overthink.
So I’m going to try harder not to.
Anyway, I did a bunch of Pimsleur during the day, until, by afternoon, we had a full-fledged blizzard. For some reason that made me tired, so I lay down with my Pimsleur lesson rolling. As usual, the technique worked within minutes. I woke up much refreshed after a half-hour Pimsleur nap.
Then I went to Café Margot, had a double skim latte, and did writing work in the book Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook by Andrew Byon. It is going pretty well; I am slowly picking up the alphabet.