Tag Archives: language learning

Between Calm and Passion: 001

Reading a novel in another language is somewhat a laborious process. Because there are a lot of words I don’t know and have only encountered for the first time while reading 냉정과 열정사이, I had to keep checking for definitions in Naver Dictionary (thank God for this extremely useful online dictionary!).

My reading process:

  1. Read a couple of paragraphs and try to understand as much as possible
  2. Underline unfamiliar words and grammar using a pencil
  3. Write down the sentences with unfamiliar terms on my notebook, and underline the same words
  4. Look for definitions (or explanations, in the case of unfamiliar grammar) online (or using a grammar book)
  5. Write down definitions on notebook
  6. Read the paragraphs again

It takes quite a long time if one paragraph has a ton of words I don’t know, but for some reason I quite like it. I don’t know if my brain has retained any of the new vocabulary that I’ve learned from the novel, but it’s certainly an enjoyable process. Maybe it’s because I actually like what I read–unlike the dry text and conversations in textbooks, a novel has forward-moving plot, so if the story is engaging enough, it keeps me reading and at the same time keeps me learning. I still like reading textbooks, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s just not the most fun way to learn Korean. /shrugs

냉정과 열정사이 can be translated as Between Calm and Passion (hence the title of this post). I’ll be posting some translations of parts I liked throughout the book, just because I really like the plot. Do note, however, that because I’m learning Korean and nowhere near proficient, my translations will probably not be accurate, heh. I’m merely using translating as another tool for learning Korean, and, well, it’s fun to translate!

Anyway, the plot of Between Calm and Passion circles around two individuals, Aoi and Junsei, who made a promise to each other when they were 20 years old that on Aoi’s 30th birthday, they would meet again at the Duomo, located in Florence, Italy. The novel is separated into two books, Rosso and Blu, with each book written by a different author and focusing on the point of view of a main character (Rosso for Aoi, Blu for Junsei), so it’s best to read the books alternately to get the feel for Aoi- and Junsei’s feelings and thoughts. My plan is to read Rosso first, then once I finish a chapter, go to Blu and read Junsei’s point of view.

Between Calm and Passion is originally written in Japanese, so what I’m doing is translating a translation of a work. If I studied Japanese really hard years ago I probably would have wanted to read this in Japanese, tsk. Ooh, and Between Calm and Passion has a movie adaptation which I have yet to see. I’ve been stopping myself from doing so before actually finishing the novel. Realistically speaking though, it would take a long while before I get to finish both books, so… D:

Meh, digression aside, here’s a translation of the introductions (I do not know what to call those short lines written before the first chapter. Introductions? Prologue? Erm…) of both Rosso and Blu. These are really short passages, but since I haven’t finished much of Rosso’s chapter one, there isn’t a lot of translation I can do at the moment. :/


Agata Junsei was my everything. Those eyes, that voice, even that smiling face that suddenly flickers with a shadow of loneliness. If Junsei were to die somewhere, I will probably know. However far a place, even if we will not meet again…


I believe that although a person may not remember everything that happens every day, the precious things will never be forgotten. I don’t think Aoi completely forgot what happened that night. Even though it’s uncertain whether I’ll be able to meet her again…

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I’m probably one of the best examples of what a self-studying person should not be. After progressing a little, I take a long, long break from studying and enter this…hibernating phase where I don’t give a care about my head slowly losing the vocabulary and grammar points I’ve studied in the past. This happened when I finished Beginning 1 and lasted about a year and a half (or so) before I went and picked up Beginning 2. After finishing Beginning 2, the same thing happens.

Language learning will never be easy for me, that I am sure of. To progress in any language, you have to devote huge amounts of your time. I remember when I started reading Beginning 1, I maintained a strict schedule, allotting three to four 1-hour blocks of Korean study in between studying for my exams. I didn’t do much of anything else–no computer, no reading novels, although maybe a teeny, tiny bit of Korean drama watching (heh). Looking back, I can’t believe I managed to keep up with the schedule, because I’m really not a stickler for schedules of  any sort.

…But maybe I diligently kept with it back then because learning Korean at that time, compared to studying for my exams, was just so fun. Not that it isn’t anymore (it still is), but really, the best days of learning anything are right in the beginning, when you fawn at every new word and every new grammar point and delight at forming the most basic of sentences. Those are the fun times. And then you reach a certain point when you start to think, I should know something else by now. I should be able to write more complicated stuff right now. Why am I not learning anything new? Why am I not progressing at all? That’s when it gets less fun and more of a chore. I hate thinking of language learning as a chore because it definitely isn’t and by all means it shouldn’t be, but sometimes it becomes exactly that. It becomes nothing but a set of hurdles to jump through and really, what else can take away the fun out of language learning other than that?

Right now if there’s one thing I wish while studying Korean, it would probably be for me to go back to the mindset I used to have in the earliest stages of learning Korean: that language learning is fun. That every new word is 신기해. That I don’t have to rush it all because every moment I soak up the language I’m learning something new–and that in itself is wonderful.

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