Pronunciation Problems

As difficult as it is when you and another person are speaking to each other in two different languages, it’s much more difficult when you are speaking the same language but cannot understand each other due to pronunciation and regional accents. While I run into the former problem in my everyday struggles with speaking Korean, the latter problem is most common when I am helping my students with their English writing.

Today my students were writing a few sentences about their future plans. As I was walking around the classroom to help them, one of the girls called me over.

“Spelling…’liber’?” she asked.

“Liber?” I repeated, glancing at her paper for a clue as to what she meant. “What is ‘liber’?”

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Baking in Korea: Or, My Adventures With the Metric System

Ever since I told Ye Bin about the day-long baking marathon my family does before Christmas, she has begged me to make cookies with her. Finally, this weekend we picked out the recipes we wanted to make and went to the store to buy ingredients–chocolate chip cookie mix, an oatmeal mix and the fixings for homemade thumbprint cookies. Sunday was our designated Cookie Day, and I spent Saturday night dreaming of the intoxicating aroma of chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and freshly baked goodness.

Turns out I forgot that Korea uses the metric system.

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Mishaps at the Mart

We now return to “Janine Does Something Silly Because of the Language Barrier.”

Host Mom, host aunt, and host nephews picked me up from school today so we could go to a Korean BBQ restaurant for dinner. On our way back to the apartment, we stopped by the mart next door. As we walked inside, Host Mom placed a basket in my hands and said something rapidly in Korean. The only word I understood was eumshig or “food” (which, based on context, should have been evident).

Okay, I thought. I guess she wants me to get some food I’d like to eat this week.

“For me to cook?” I asked, gesturing like I’m stirring a pot.

She responded in Korean, and I did not understand. But she didn’t shake her head no, so I assumed it was affirmative and I was cooking dinner tomorrow.

Given my limited cooking abilities, I walked toward the produce aisle and picked up some broccoli and carrots. Then I put some noodles in my basket and figured I could make something out of that. Hmm…why was Host Mom laughing so much?

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