One awesome thing about my son, Ashar, is that he has always loved languages. He began kindergarten in a class with a Spanish-speaking aide, and she worked with the kids every day on new words. He was hooked!
Since then, he’s drifted through smatterings of all sorts of languages. For a while, he wanted to learn French, accompanied by a stuffed penguin named Pierre. We had French magnetic poetry, and we still look at our big black cat, Mr. Bill, and sometimes yell, “Le chat noir! Le chat noir!”
He got interested in Germany while studying World War II history and picked up some German phrases.
For a long time, we did a “word of the day” poster project and one of the most fun parts was discovering each day’s word in other languages.
One of the most long-term languages we’ve been exposed to, though, is Korean. I actually started learning Korean when I was in elementary school, taking tang soo do lessons. As an adult, I earned my second-degree black belt in tae kwon do – another Korean martial art – and Ash studied with me for a year or two. And now, my wife, Kaitlyn, and I are studying tang soo do again, so Korean is an everyday “thing” in our house.
But as it turns out, martial arts words don’t have a lot of… other applications. Counting to 10 is useful (hana, dool, set, net, ta sot, yo sot, ill gop, yoh dohl, ah hope, yeol), sure, but “low block” (ha dan mahk kee) and “ready stance” (choon bi) and “roundhouse kick” (dollyeo chagi)… not so much. And, let me be honest: Most of my instructors are not Korean. So most of what we hear is pretty “Americanized!”
So, when I heard about program that’s designed for whole-family language learning in a more everyday way, with the ability to actually hear words said by native speakers, I was pretty psyched to try out some more Korean!
The TalkBox.Mom Korean foreign language program
TalkBox.Mom is a fun subscription-box program designed to get whole families working on learning new languages together. The creator, Adelaide, and her family travel around the world, and they’ve turned their successful methods for immersing themselves in new languages into a really workable plan.
Each box focuses on a theme – starting with arguably the thing we spend the most time on, EATING! Our box came with awesome posters, which got a place of honor on our fridge and our wall, plus a big set of phrase cards based on kitchen objects like the toaster.
Homeschool Korean: The “distance learning” approach
In “it’s 2020, of course things don’t go as planned” fashion, Ash and I agreed to work together on this review. I hung the posters and spread out the cars and got all excited… and then my wife and I ended up flying across the country – terrifying, do not recommend – to help out her parents while her mom underwent a couple of surgical procedures.
Ash and his dad, Chris, stayed home with four recalcitrant and needy cats, much colder weather than I’m facing in Arizona, and … my strategically placed Korean posters and cards.
But! What was awesome was that the system was so flexible (and simple) that we kept learning together anyway! Ash texted me Korean words of the day, and I used the TalkBox.Mom app on my phone to listen to them!
What was really cool was how many of them are similar to English. Cheese is Chee-ju, and realistically that covered about 30% of our daily food needs. (This also marks one of the things from my college Spanish minor that I remember most clearly – Quiero todo el queso – I want all the cheese.)
I am not at all sorry to admit that we did not do much to practice ah-tee-cho-keu, another cognate – artichokes. Ugh. But at least now I can dislike them in a new language too!
We saw this a lot with foods that were not native to Korea – especially things like tropical fruits like pineapples, or pah-ee-nae-peul, and, see if you can guess this one without help, leh-mon. But things like figs – more likely to grow in Asia – are moo-hwa-gwa. That led us down the fun unschooling rabbit trail of speculating about foreign and colonizing influences on languages!
That was cool. Another especially fun part was seeing Ash work the words into his other conversations – like telling me he was sitting in the backyard, feeding our squirrels and chipmunks ddang-kong, or peanuts, out of his hands!
We head home in another two weeks, and I’m excited to see what other words I can learn once we’re all in the same place. One of the great things about having basically an adult learning with me is that he is the one teaching me, much more than I am teaching him!
Try TalkBox.Mom for free!
And, if you and your family decide to take the leap into a new language, you can order using the discount code thankful for $20 off your first box! (This code expires Dec. 20, 2020, so use it soon.
I was thinking it would make a pretty cool holiday gift surprise to share the first box – I’ve done with other subscriptions and it’s been a hit!
You can also enter to win a full box in the language of your choice! If you win, I’ll be excited to know what language you choose and what you think! If you’re not sure what of their dozen-plus languages you migtht want to learn, TalkBox.Mom has a helpful guide to picking one!
(No matter which you end up with, you owe me information on how to say cheese. This is clearly still the most important word in any language.)