Sunday, January 21, 2007

Taiwan plans

I'm planning to move to Taipei at the beginning of March. The reasons include a desire to get to know another Asian culture in depth, and a growing realization that seriously learning Mandarin would probably be a good thing and perhaps I should start sooner rather than later.

My Korean's not that great, but I don't want to lose what I've learned while I'm down there, so I am going to proceed under the ever-hopeful assumption that I'll be able to put a decent amount of effort into learning Mandarin, and also put enough time into maintaining my Korean that I won't forget everything. And also work at the same time. Without driving myself crazy.

Before I leave for Taiwan I am going to teach myself as much Korean hanja - Chinese characters - as I comfortably can. I figure this will help reinforce my Korean, teach me some high-level vocabulary, and also prep me for studying written Chinese in Taiwan. (In this respect it's lucky I'm going to Taiwan, not the People's Republic of China. Mainland China uses simplified characters that often look quite different from Korean hanja; Taiwan uses the same characters as Korea though they often use them in different ways.)

Right now my main textbook for learning hanja is Fred Lukoff's A First Reader in Korean Writing in Mixed Script. This is a terrible, terrible book for people who are just learning Chinese characters for the first time. Maybe an absolute beginner who happens to have a perfect visual memory can use Lukoff's book, but for most people the learning curve is probably too steep. Fortunately, I read a user-friendly guide to 500 hanja first, so I'm no longer an absolute beginner. Lukoff's book may teach difficult characters from the very beginning (in chapter 2 you learn the Koreanized Chinese characters for words such as "horizon" and "national boundary") and may be incredibly dull, but it is rather intense and it is precisely what I think I need.

I won't learn actual written Chinese until I get to Taiwan, but hopefully this will be helpful.

1 comment:

Benjamin Lukoff said...

Glad you like my dad's book ;)