Publish Date: June 15, 2017      Author: Matteo Preabianca

Korean ((한국어, 조선말, Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal)  is not only  the official language spoken in North and South Korea, but also in Yanbian, a Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China. It is a difficult and charming language, historically and culturally rich, and still debated where it comes from. If you are curious about the Korean world, follow these simple steps to learn it!

Learn Hangeul, the Korean alphabet.

The alphabet is the first and good step to learn a new language, in particular those far from ours. The Korean alphabet is relatively easy, even if it might sound strange to you.

L’Hangeul was invented  during Joseon Dynasty in 1443. It has 24 letters, 14 consonants and 10 vowels. However, if we include 16 diphthongs and double consonants, there are 40 letters in total. This language has  about  3000 Chinese characters, called Hanja, to represent words borrowed from China. Unlike Japanese Kanji , Hanja is used  in limited contexts

such as  academic articles, Buddhist texts, dictionaries, newspaper highlights, surnames and  classical literature before Second World War. It is not adopted in North Korea anymore.

Learn how to count.

Counting in Korean can be difficult because there are two different ways, depending on the situation: a Korean, of course, and a Korean system with  some Chinese characters. The Korean system is used to indicate numbers of objects and people (between 1 and 99) and age. For example: 3 children, 7 bottles of beer, 28 years of age. Here is how to count up to 10 :

1 = 하나  “hana”

2 = 둘  “dool”

3 = 셋  “set”

4 = 넷  “net”

5 = 다섯  “da-sut”

6 = 여섯  “yuh-sut”

7 = 일곱  “il-gop”

8= 여덟 “yuh-duhl”

9= 아홉  “ahop”

10 = 열  “yuhl”

They  use the Korean-Chinese  system for dates, money, addresses, phone numbers, and numbers greater than 100. Here is how to count up to 10 with this system:

1 = 일  “il”

2 = 이  “ee”

3 = 삼  “sam”

4 = 사  “sa”

5 = 오  “oh”

6= 육 “yuk”

7 = 칠 “chil”

8 = 팔  “pal”

9 = 구  “goo”

10 = 십  “ship”

Learn some basic sentences.

Try learning the words and sentences to say:

Hi/Hello = 안녕 “an-nyoung”

Yes = 네  “ne”

No = 아니요 “aniyo”

Thanks = 감사합니다 “gam-sa-ham-nee-da”

My name is… = 저는 ___ 입니다 “chonun… imnida”

How are you?  = 어떠십니까?  “otto-shim-nikka”

Nice to meet you = 만나서 반가워요 “Manna-seo banga-woyo”

Goodbye = 안녕히 계세요  “an-nyounghi kye-sayo”

Try to learn the different speech forms.

It is important to learn the difference between levels of formalities in spoken Korean. In Korean, the ending of verbs changes according to the age and status of the interlocutor as well as the social context. It is important to understand how the formality of speech works so that you can have a proper conversation.

  • Informal – Used to address people with same  age or younger, in particular close friends.
    • Forma – Used to talk to older people and in formal social contexts.
    • Honor – Used in very formal contexts such as TV news or army. Seldom used in normal conversations.

Find a great Korean teacher.

Having a good teacher to practice speaking with, to answer your questions, and to correct you when you develop incorrect language habits can make all the difference in your language learning experience. They also keep you accountable and on-track to reach your fluency goals in a way that is much more difficult when you teach yourself. Have a look at our wonderful and professional teachers. And don’t forget that your first Skype lesson is free!


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