Learning Korean vs. Learning Thai: A lesson from my experience

In Korea, my Korean progressed to… meh.

I worked and socialized in English zones. I learned some food words and some travel words, just to get around and eat. But other than that, I didn’t learn Korean. Part of it too was that I made a conscious switch in what I wanted to pursue. Still, I could have learned more if the context had been right.

I know that because now that I’m here in Thailand, I’m learning Thai much faster. Don’t get ahead of me too much – I can’t carry on a conversation or anything. I’ve learned quite a few food words, though, some greetings, some numbers, and basic money questions. By this time in Korea, I still stuttered through “Thank You” and “Hello.”

The difference has been in the context. Here in Thailand, I know this girl who, not only speaks Thai, but forces me to speak it as well. Instead of ordering for me from the local street vendor, she gives me the language necessary for the interaction.

In Korea, I was surrounded by English speakers, and the locals wanted to help so much they did everything for me. In Thailand, I’m still surrounded by English speakers, but they want to help so much that they don’t do everything for me. It’s a different approach, and you don’t have to guess which ups my language skills quicker.