Fluent in 6 Months Challenge: Success!

Update: I’ve since written a more comprehensive article on specifically what we did in our Korean study to meet our 6 month challenge, you can read that update here.

It’s now the 20th, which means that yesterday marked exactly 6 months from the day we set out on our fluent in 6 months challenge. So how did it work out? Um, did you notice the title…. Success!

So, let’s run through the criteria we set in the original challenge and see how we’ve managed.

  • Production – At this point, we’ve been able to have several conversations with native speakers, both verbally and written, in-person and over the computer. This, in my opinion, is the biggest triumph. We’ve chatted about a fairly wide range of topics, from food to politics to lots in-between and our longest conversation so far lasted for about an hour. That full hour of no English whatsoever is what I consider the biggest achievement. We understand most of the contractions/slang that we run into most frequently. We still run into words we aren’t familiar with, particularly in new topics, although since the meanings can be explained to us in Korean a raised eyebrow and cocked head usually are enough for the person to explain what we missed.
  • Written Comprehension – Our written comprehension is on par with our speaking level. We can get the meat of pretty much every news story we read, though each usually has at least a word or two we’re not familiar with (remedied by a quick dictionary check). Nearly all of our news has come in Korean for the past few months, though we didn’t get nearly as much of it before our 1,000 word challenge. We’ve also been working through a few books we picked up during our 2007 Korea trip. I feel confident I could pick up just about any book in Korean and read it without a dictionary and at least get the general idea.
  • Listening Comprehension – Lastly, listening comprehension. Like I said in the Production section, we’ve had more than a handful of spoken conversations. At this point we have no trouble understanding most people at a normal (that is to say, really fast feeling) rate of speech. We have had some trouble with a few of the southern dialects we’ve hit – particularly one person from Jeju, but other than that there have been no real snags. We’ve also been able to start watching Korean TV shows (something we did even before we started learning) without the use of English subtitles. Again, we don’t get everything, and sometimes a pause or two are required to reach for a dictionary, but overall we don’t have any problems in that department either.

    So, like I said before, big success overall. I’m compiling everything we did that I think worked, and everything we did that I think was a waste (though it’s looking like it may be several posts worth) so keep an eye out for those coming soon!

Adam is a former English teacher turned personal trainer and writer. He’s addicted to learning, parkour and martial arts. In addition to being a voracious bibliophile Adam’s fascinated by anything related to health, fitness and language. When not studying or training he can usually be found curled up with a good piece of fiction. You can e-mail Adam at Adam@RoadtoEpic.com