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Thursday, 5 April 2007

The best way to learn Korean

We have spent nine months in Korea now and along the way we have always told ourselves that we should learn how to speak Korean. Well, here's a little bit of info for everybody out there--it's not easy! Like learning any language, it takes time, dedication, and practice. There are lots of places out there in the city that offer free Korean lessons. The hard part is finding one that will fit your schedule.

A great site that has helped me learn Korean easily is 90 Day Korean! With updated daily podcasts I listened to them when I was on the subway in Korea. Click here to check them out!

One of the first steps in learning how to speak Korean, is learning Hangul (hey, if I can do it, anyone can!). Being able to read and identify characters is extremely helpful when you are ordering food or trying to located a destination on a map. Most of the time I've noticed that there are many English words translated into Hangul. For example, Starbucks is written 스타벅스 (I'm not that skilled yet to type on a keyboard in Hangul, that was copy and pasted from the Starbucks Korea website)...which sounds like "Shuh-tah-bog-shuh"...say that ten times as fast as you can! What does it sound like? This is an example of Konglish, English and Korean words mixed together.

Once you've learned the alphabet (remember my flashcards?), reading takes a lot of practice. I'm still working on my pronunciation of words and individual characters. A great way to practice is to talk to your Korean coworkers! They are always at work and always eager to help. Another idea is to do a language exchange. You could also teach yourself online. But the ultimate idea if you want o learn how to say random phrases and other words of interest...is to learn from your students!

Let's see...what's the best way to do this? First of all, if you've earned their respect they will help you if you ask politely (the reward of candy also helps too). You never know who will be interested in helping you out, so don't pick and choose. Just ask someone with neat handwriting! I got a few girls from one of my junior classes to help me write out common phrases on flash cards. Korean flash cards come pre hole-punched in the top corner so you can attach a ring to hold them together. Here are the results!

I got a little booklet full of random phrases and things to say at various locations, such at eating out in a restaurant, grocery shopping, meeting people, etc. Another set of flash cards had instructions on what to say at the doctor's office (which will come in very handy if you ever get sick in Korea).

Chapter 2, "First meet"...perfect, I'm ready to take on the country!

Check out the Let's Speak Korean series on YouTube...I've posted this before, but here it is again!

Do you speak Korean? If so, how much?


Anonymous said...

i love the
"give me a medicine". obviously they wrote the english on that card too~

Anonymous said...

the girl in the green sweater sounds...bad. . the guy in the white sweater sounds great. o_o;

Anonymous said...

Question: Did you know how to speak Korean well before you started to teach English in Korea?

Anonymous said...

In addition to what you mentioned I think it's useful to have a goal in learning the language. I've found it useful to take Korean proficiency tests each year to have something to work towards. If you're interested in doing this too, check out my website on the test of proficiency in Korean (TOPIK): http://topikrevision.googlepages.com

Anonymous said...

great blog about learning Korean and I like the hands-on pictures a lot. Besides using flashcards a lot, I have also made some good experiences with Korean language learning software. First I used products from Transparent (www.transparent.com) and Rosetta Stone (www.rosettastone) which I partly liked (in Rosetta Stone sometimes the meaning of the pictures are not totally clear and since it is a full immersion product there are no translations). More recently I came across a new Korean language learning product from L-Ceps (www.l-ceps.com) which I now use most. It is similar audio-visual approach like Rosetta Stone but also offers translation quizzes and contains also special lessons that focus on common phrases. I have made some good progress with the software. I think they offer a free trial on their website so you can have a look.

CyNurse said...

Nice blog! I like your honest and direct-the-point writing style.

Anyway, I'm learning Korean right now. Currently using Declan software. It has a software for dictionary, flashcards, Hangul, and interactive lessons.

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