Is it hard to write in Korean? Short answer: No!
You can learn to write korean in no time!
A couple of days ago I came across a website that offered to teach me the korean writing system within a week. After a quick glance at the strange little symbols that make up their script, I thought that it couldn't possibly be that easy. Boy, was I wrong...
I'm not going to lie. I just love learning languages. I get a lot of satisfaction from comprehending a previously incomprehensible writing system. I actually started learning japanese a few years ago because I was tired of being unable to read it. Sadly, after many years of study, I still can't read most of what is written in japanese. Why? Let's see:
- Two sets of phonetic alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana, with around 50 simple characters each (already mastered those)
- A huge set of ideographic characters called kanji, with 1900+ used commonly (I've only learned about 500 so far)
In korean there is only one alphabet, called hangul, and that's it. And I find it particularly intuitive. After a couple hours, I had learned all the vowels and most of the consonants. It's pretty cool to be able to go to a korean webpage and read it, even if I don't know yet what it all means.
With japanese I'm still unable to do that without help (programs like Rikaichan)
With Korean, I have learned to write it and read it (albeit slowly) in just three days!
The korean alphabet is very much like ours, where every character has its pronounciation. The main difference is that we write our characters one after the other, while the koreans write them in syllable clusters, following one of the patterns shown to the left.
An advantage I find on reading and writing this way is that individual clusters can be recognized faster than individual letters, and thus reading speed is increased.
Writing the characters
Just like chinese and japanese, when writing in korean, there are just to basic rules to follow:
- Left to right
- Top to bottom
The topmost and leftmost strokes will be written first. This is demonstrated by the picture on the right.
After learning each character, it just a matter of fitting them into the syllable clusters. The resources I used for learning the characters are in the links section below.
Tips for building vocabulary
I haven't really started to learn the korean language just yet. That is a task that takes serious commitment and also a lot of time. Eventually, I hope to be able to master it, but for now, I feel accomplished to at least have learned how to read it.
I found a good way to build korean vocabulary and practice your writing, even your pronounciation:
- Go to the Google home page.
- From the top menu, choose Translator
- Choose to translate from English to Korean
- For any word that you wish to know how it is written and pronounced in korean, type it in the box.
You will automatically see the word written to the right of the box. You can even click on the "Listen" button and hear the word being pronounced! After a few days, you'll find yourself knowing a lot of korean words, and reading them perfectly in hangul.
Another way to get soaked in korean language is through Skype, and its Skype Me feature. With it, you can communicate with any korean person looking to chat with anyone. I've used it and found it to be a very safe and friendly environment (of course, general internet safety still applies)
If you, like myself, enjoy learning new things, especially new languages, do give korean a try. It's a lot of fun to learn.
- Busyatom.com | Learn Korean Project
This a great place for absolute beginners to get a grip on the basics of the language. Also, the video tutorials are made by an actual Korean, so you know you're getting good info!
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