Friday, October 14, 2005

Is your mind (마음) getting enough to eat?

Today I read "책 이야기" in one of the third grade, elementary school textbooks on the Korean Lab Web site. The story itself was nothing special, but some of the expressions in the story reminded me that Koreans and non-Koreans say things differently. I am not talking about the differences in languages, but the differences in the way we express ourselves. For example, here are some expressions from the story that caught my eye:
  • 동화책이나 위인전기는 우리들을 즐겁게 해주고 마음을 살찌게 해줍니다.
  • 또는 책 속의 主人公과 對話를 나누며 마음껏 상상의 날개를 펴 보기도 합니다.
  • 책을 가까이 하고 所重히 하는 습관을 길러야 하겠습니다.

Most of the expressions we learn in elementary school probably stay with us for the rest of our lives. I have a feeling that the three Korean expressions in red type above also stay with Koreans for the rest of their lives, and are probably so woven into their minds and language that they might find it difficult to express the same thoughts in a different way.

Maybe the key to learning to speak Korean as naturally as Koreans do is to follow the same path they use to develop their speaking patterns. Instead of writing special textbooks for non-native Korean language learners, maybe all that is needed is to annotate Korea's elementary school textbooks with grammar and vocabulary notes for non-native Korean speakers. Then when Koreans and non-Koreans speak with each other in Korean, they would literally be on the same page.

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