Have you always wanted to learn Korean? Ian of Korean language learning YouTube channel Korean Patch knew zero Korean before he left the US… he even started learning the writing system on the plane over! Now he is fluent and thriving in Korea. He shares his Korean learning tips, content and what his channel has to offer Korean learners.
Hello everyone and welcome to the LingQ podcast with me Elle.
This week’s guest is joining us all the way from Korea, but before I chat to
him, just a quick reminder, if you aren’t a LingQ user, what we’re all about.
With LingQ you can learn languages from content you are interested in.
So if you enjoy podcasts like this one, you can take the episode with the
transcript and the audio, work your way through it on link translating any of
the words and phrases you don’t know.
Those words and phrases will look different in future lessons.
So you can keep track of the words you’re learning, the words you
know, any new words that come up.
There are also vocabulary exercises you can go into, if that is your thing.
Lots to help you make a breakthrough in the language you’re learning.
This episode is available on LingQ, the lesson link is the description.
This week, I am joined by a guest all the way from Korea.
It’s morning for him afternoon for me, I’m joined by Ian of the
YouTube channel Korean Patch.
Ian how’s it going?
It’s going good.
It’s good to see you.
Thank you so much for coming on.
So as I mentioned is, so for me right now, it is Tuesday afternoon and for
you, it is Wednesday morning, correct?
Yes, it is Wednesday morning.
And I am not a morning person.
I was going to say, I always thank people for joining us in the mornings
because I’m also not a morning person.
So thank you.
I Know how it is to be chirpy in the morning.
It’s not cool, but thank you.
So, uh, whereabouts in Korea do you live?
So I live in sunny Busan, the beautiful giant city way at
the bottom of the peninsula.
It’s the second largest city in Korea.
And you say sunny.
So is it what’s the temperature like right now, for example,
on an average day in January.
An average day in January.
So it’s actually is the worst day of all days for you to ask me this question,
because it’s actually cold here today.
It’s like in Celsius, it’s like minus one, but this area is subtropical.
So it it’s very different than my hometown of Chicago, which is super cold.
Here it barely ever freezes.
So I really liked that.
It’s nice all year.
This is kind of like the vacation city in Korea.
You know, I’ve heard, I had heard of it before, but there’s also that
famous movie of course, Train to Busan.
That’s it, right?
Train to Busan?
Train to Busan.
I don’t know how much of that movie takes place in Busan though.
I have seen it, so…
oh, you know what?
Here’s the, here’s a Busan movie thing.
Oh, if you’ve seen Black Panther, the, a Marvel movie, they filmed a
bunch of that movie here in Busan.
So right near where I live actually.
Were you like, did you see them filming?
Uh, no, but some of my friends did.
I was working, but they did like a big chase on the bridge, a car chase.
Ah, I love that.
I live in Vancouver and it’s a, it’s a film location, filming location, for sure.
And yeah, sometimes you spot sets and it’s always so exciting.
Like, is it a cheesy movie or is it like, The Matrix or…
The big one.
So, as I mentioned you run a channel called Korean Patch.
It’s for Korean learners.
First off, I now know what Korean patch means, because I watched your video where
you explained, but could you explain to our listeners, uh, any of our listeners
who don’t know what that term means.
So in Korean, there’s kind of a funny, like slang term that people
use to talk about uh, foreigners who are really good at speaking Korean.
So when you install the language pack for a piece of software or a video game or
something, they usually call that the…
which means Korean patch, or they’ll call it the … or something like that.
which is the writing system.
But, uh, when people in Korea, see a foreigner that like unexpectedly
speaks Korean really well they’ll say something that’s like, wow, they’ve
installed the Korean patch clearly.
So, uh, that, that’s just kind of an expression they use to
say, like, this is a person who really speaks the language well.
I like that.
Do you ever get that?
I’ve gotten that before.
If you were like, no, no, never.
I’ve never received a compliment ever.
So you come from Chicago as you just said, uh, how long have you been in Korea now
and what brought you to Korea initially?
So I’ve been in Korea for almost five years.
No, a little over five years, almost six years actually.
Um, I came to Korea right after I finished college.
So I graduated from college and then pretty much like a month later, got on
a plane and moved over here to work, um, just to take like a year off from, uh,
you know, working after finishing school.
Cause I was pretty, pretty burnt out.
Um, and now I’ve been here almost six years.
Just like that.
It’s flown by I’m sure.
Is the plan to stay longer, are you kind of, is this your kind of
home now, do you think, are you open to going back to the states?
I’m not particularly literally interested in going back to the states.
Um, I really like my life here and I’ve, I’ve been able to build a good
life here, which a lot of foreign people probably can’t say in Korea.
And so I’ve started kind of shifting my career focuses on helping
people to do what I’ve done, which is, you know, build a life here.
And did you speak any Korean before you left from the sites?
None, not at all.
I mean, I’ve always been like a language enthusiast, so I know, you know, I knew
before I came here, like, oh, they say, you know, … or something like that.
But, um, and I grew up with a lot of Korean people around me.
So maybe, maybe that’s, uh, why the language wasn’t so exotic to
me from the very beginning, but I didn’t really speak any Korean when
I came here, I couldn’t read either.
I kind of learned how to read on the plane on the way over.
As good a time as any to start.
Nothing else to do.
How did you go about learning?
Well, I tried a lot of stuff.
So I have a really traditional language learning background in that
I did the normal American study of language for 15 years at school.
Um, you know, that normal pipeline that most people don’t learn a language from.
Um, I actually learned a lot of French by doing that.
Um, and I got really good at French and I love learning languages and all that.
But, uh, when I tried to apply that to Korean it did not work
very well when I first got here.
And so that’s, that was like the first thing that I did and I
kind of gave up really quickly.
And so what I ended up doing, uh, that was effective was a, a lot
of listening and reading things I couldn’t really understand and
repeating that until I could.
And that’s pretty much what I did.
So I think, I think this is a, this fits right in with LingQ and,
uh, you know, this whole sphere of comprehensible input based language
learning, that’s basically what I did.
And that’s kind of how I’ve fallen into meeting people like you is cause
I’ve been looking for the others.
Yeah, I was going to say, after, um, watching the videos on your channel,
the comprehensible Korean series that you run, I was going to ask you…
we need to get that on LingQ.
It’s just, you know, you, um, out doing things in Korea, speaking
in Korean, so it’s not just, you know, talking at the audience about,
you know, vocabulary or whatever.
It’s very cool.
So, and really well done.
Well, thank you.
The idea behind that was to try, and I’m hoping other language learning
channels will start doing this too, is to try to make materials that people
would be watching anyway, like people are watching Korea travel logs anyway.
So we might as well try to like hijack the format and adjust the language so
that it’s more accessible so that people actually like experience it in the
original language, as opposed to just turning on English subtitles and you know,
saying whatever I’ll learn Korean later.
This is too hard, you know, that was kind of the idea behind it.
And do you have any, I know you mentioned, so you got right in and
started consuming content that was difficult because you obviously really
wanted, you were interested in it.
Um, do you have any other advice for anyone who is thinking about
starting a Korean learning journey?
Someone at the very beginning.
I mean, if you’re at the very beginning, I think the best thing you can do is
spend a lot more time than you want than you would normally spend, uh, learning
the writing system and the pronunciation like system, because if you’re able to…
you know, Korea has this pretty unique benefit among Asian languages
where Korean does not really use Chinese characters very much anymore.
They have a phonetic writing system that is very easy to learn.
They actually have like a proverb here.
That’s uh, uh, a wise man can learn this in a week and a fool
or, oh man, I just messed it up.
A wise man can learn this in a weekend and a fool can learn it in a week.
That’s kind of the idea.
You can see, you can see the one that, uh, where I fall.
I’m in the I’m in the fool category clearly, but, uh, but the, the, the
language, you know, there, like, um, even the world writing prize
is named after the Korean king who invented the writing system that
Korean uses today called Hangul.
He’s King Sejong.
If you look that up, you can see that’s like the, I think it’s the
Nobel prize for advancements in writing systems or something, but
don’t quote me on that, but, uh, the writing system is really easy to learn.
And if you’re able to learn how to, um, read the words you can’t understand
yet and say them out loud, the language becomes much easier to parse
and much less like heavy, you know?
Much less overwhelming when you start listening to people actually speak
because Korean is like, it is one of the most difficult languages for
native English speakers to learn.
So there’s basically nothing in common.
That’ll do it.
That’llmake it tough.
I really do like the way I have to say that Korean script looks.
It’s very, it’s, it’s beautiful.
So that must be a big motivator if you agree, but…
It’s really cool.
It’s even, it’s even designed to look like what’s happening inside the mouth.
So like individual characters.
So for example, like the character that makes a … sound … it’s shaped like
a, um, like a seven, kind of, and it’s to show that in the back of the mouth,