ANNYEONGHASEYO: Mastering the Korean Language

The ABC ’s of learning your 가,나,다,라’s

I’ve always heard that math is like a language. And while I’m not completely literate in that subject, I presume its true. Interestingly enough, however, I feel that languages are very mathematical as well. At the very least in my experience learning Korean.

I started learning Korean in the September of 2017.It has been an interesting and somewhat painful experience so far. I’ll be honest and say that I have learned quite a lot but I have not even come close to fully understanding what it is that I have learned. But I think that I have enough knowledge to give some advice pertaining to studying Korean.

  • Know how to differentiate sounds
    1. To our English and French speaking minds, language is spoken in a particular way, with particular accents. When speaking Korea, there comes about a new bunch of consonants than when we speak English or French. So  we cannot differentiate between one another. When learning Korean, practice pronouncing these diverse consonants and learn how to hear them well. It might just save you from making numerous awkward mistakes.
  • Practice everyday
    1. I know you hear this a lot. But I stand by it. When learning a new language, forgetting newly learnt words is really easy. So review each day and practice each day. This will help you understand new concepts and recall old ones too.
  • Korean is like math. Try treating it as such.
    1. When I began to think of Korean as math, learning the language became way easier. I began to think of particles, sentence endings as various components of mathematical subjects like algebra and that made learning Korean far easier. I just had to plug in and replace x,y,b with the endings I needed.
    2. If treating it like math isn’t for you, try another tactic. The only thing you need to do is compare Korean to a topic you already know to facilitate learning. For example, you could compare sentence structures if a language you know is that similar.
  • Dramas and music are not your friend. Remember that.
    1. As exciting as it can be to learn from dramas and music, I don’t think it’s a good way to attack the problem. There is a large list of reasons as to why. First of all, the grammar and words they use in works are not accurate for day-to-day life. Take the word당신(Dang-Shin) which means you. It’s a commonly used word in dramas but bless your soul if you use it in real-life conversations. The laughter of your Korean peers will haunt you for the rest of your life.
    2. Korean is a quickly changing language, especially in the age of the internet and so language rules are quickly changing. Say for example the phrase “아프지말고”. While in terms of direct translation it means “don’t hurt”, it generally means “don’t be sad”. There was once a time when such a thing just was not said because of Korean language rules. Now it’s commonplace.
    3. I’ll admit they are great for learning pronunciation but do not go around saying what you hear from them.
  • Develop your own method. Maybe listening to Korean will help you learn or maybe rote memorization is better for you. For me, I have to actually practice talking to someone to learn a subject. So create a model that works for you. There is no correct way to study a language honestly.
  • Learn in an academic setting. Learning on your own is fine and everything but it will get tough. So why not attend a college or university language course? I assure you that learning becomes instantaneously easier. In Montreal, McGill University offers an excellent Korean language program. I encourage you to attend if you are in the area.

And that’s it. I hope this will help you to learn Korean if you choose to do so. Do any of you have any advice?



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