My Rosetta Stone Road to Korea

By Jack Edwards

I’m traveling to South Korea this fall, so I’ve decided to be fluent in the native tongue when I arrive.  You may be thinking, does he already have a basic proficiency?  The answer would be, yes.  I mastered how to say, “Where is the bathroom?” in Korean, quite some time ago.  I also know how to say, “That’s too expensive.”  So, with this solid foundation, I figure I should need no more than three and a half weeks to “come up to speed” to complete fluency.

I went online to Rosetta Stone.  My wife suggested that I order the first level and pace myself.  This made perfect sense; so after due consideration, I ordered everything Rosetta Stone had.  The whole shebang.  Every “level,” including one, that upon completion, should allow me to obtain a position as a professor of Korean linguistics at Seoul University – teaching post-graduate students.

I hit my first roadblock when I openned the Rosetta Stone box.  It contained several DVDs and a “Quick Start” booklet.  To truly “master” the language, I figured that I’d need to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes several times a week.  Unfortunately, after an hour, I was still trying to figure out how to download the program using the “Quick Start” guide.  I had a heck of a time deciphering the instructions, but what most concerned me was  that the instructions were in ENGLISH.  I’ll admit it; this caused me to begin to doubt my ability to master the Korean language by October.

I have tried to learn Korean before.  My wife is Korean, and not just Korean, but the Real McCoy.  She grew up in South Korea, and as you might suspect, a very popular pastime in Korea is speaking the Korean language.  Sadly, each time I have started studying Korean, I have ultimately abandoned my pursuit.  But as they say, “The 253rd time’s the charm.”

This time, I have a special weapon.  His name is Caleb.  Caleb is my nephew who is learning Japanese.  We have decided to become “accountability buddies.”  I only have one concern about Caleb as an accountability buddy – Caleb is nice.  He’s a really nice well-mannered young man, and I don’t think he has it in him to, for example, call me up and threaten me with severe bodily death if I don’t get my butt “back with the program.”   I may need more of an Arnold Schwarzenegger type accountability buddy, or maybe even Hannibal Lector.

Well, I better get back to my Korean studies.  Remind me again, what is Korean for, “Where is the bathroom?”