Category Archives: Korean language

Think Like A Native – Using your thoughts to improve your language skills

 

11650593_850429428375065_1268473140_nIn learning languages like Japanese and Korean, I have found one of the best ways of privately encouraging my learning, especially when unable to communicate with others in that language, is to make effort to communicate with myself.
Over recent months, due to breaking up with my Korean ex-boyfriend and terribly missing my Japanese best friend, I have neglected my language studies and this site in favor of taking time out to heal – trust me, you guys didn’t want to be witness to that mess! While this has somewhat dulled my abilities, I have found that regular practice in the privacy of my own mind has helped to preserve my understanding a great deal.
IMG_0844.PNGIt can be hard to find opportunities to communicate in languages not used in the area you live, so I decided to do my level best to think in Japanese and Korean wherever possible.
Going about my day and trying to think of the Japanese or Korean words for items I see and trying to string together the correct sentences goes a long way to help keep me focused on retaining what I already know, while also encouraging me to learn more.
When I dial a phone number, I try my best to think it in Japanese or Korean as I dial and that not only helps to improve my abilities, but I find helps with my concentration. If I am not sure of the word for a letter, I’ll just go with English and ensure to look it up later so I’ll be able to recall it the next time.
Of course, if you aren’t fluent, this isn’t an incredibly easy task, but it does serve as a way of revising a language when you cannot practice in conversation with others.
Even if you only use the odd word here and there, it will still help to build that comfort and understanding that will make learning faster and smoother. It will also help to make you able to fluidly move between languages – an ability that will serve you well the further you improve in all your language studies!
This has been a very short piece, I know, but I wanted to make something quick and simple as a way of getting back into things. Thank you so much to everyone who has waited patiently for me to be ready to return – I really appreciate your patience and all the supportive messages I have received in my time away!
As always, please share any thoughts or comments in the section below, or come join us over on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

What is ‘Oppa’?

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Since Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ went viral worldwide in 2012, more people around the world have been aware of Korea and its pop culture. With that comes the typical questions that come with exploring a country with a completely different language and culture.

One part of Korea that a lot of people are still baffled by is the word “Oppa”. I see a lot of people asking “What is an Oppa?” and there is a lot of confusion about the word due to the cultural differences between us and Korea.
An Oppa isn’t a husband, actor, crush, classmate or a boyfriend, but at the same time it kind of is.
“Oppa” (오빠) means “brother” but is used by women to address older men of a close or similar status as them, so you would say it to an older brother, and older male cousin, an older male classmate or co-worker whom you are close-ish to, and older male friend, a boyfriend (some older women call their younger boyfriends ‘oppa’ to seem cutsy) a husband or even just an older man. You can simply call someone ‘oppa’ or attach it to the end of their name (For example, “Hyunseung-oppa”/”현승오빠”). One of the issues with understanding this word is that there isn’t really a direct equivalent in English, so it is a new concept. If you will, you can kind of imagine that words as like a much less formal “sir” that you can use throughout a whole conversation/interaction.
Photo 08-03-2015 02 19 10It has a lot to do with respect and friendship and knowing when it is and isn’t acceptable to use can be quite tough for non-Koreans to understand sometimes. When in doubt, you can simply ask whether it is okay to call them “oppa”. If you are learning about Korean and Korean culture, pay attention to learning good manners, but Koreans will often be understanding if you make a few errors, so long as they know that your heart is in the right place.
‘Oppa’ is one of 4 very commonly used words of this kind.
You are already aware of ‘oppa’ as the word for brother which applies when a younger female talks to an older male. Along this same strain, you have the word ‘Hyung’ (형) which is the equivalent for a younger male in addressing an older male.
And, if you switch the genders, a younger man talking to an older woman would use the word ‘Noona’ (누나) while a younger woman talking to an older woman would say ‘eonni’ (언니).
Make sure that you use these words with care. Some people don’t like being called by them and you should make effort to respect people’s preferences, especially when you do not have a deep and practiced understanding of the language to guide you.
Do you have any more questions about English, Japanese or Korean? Share your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them for you! Leave comments in the section below, or come join us on Facebook and Twitter! Xx

Learning Language Like A Baby

IMG_1004.JPGLearning a language is easier than people think. Just look at yourself now, you are reading an article written in English by someone probably very very far away from where you are. You most likely learnt this language as a young baby – as your native tongue – or perhaps you learnt the language later in life.

Baby Amy
Me as a baby

Regardless of whether it’s your first, second or sixth language, it got in there. The hard part about learning a language is the getting around your own mind to allow it in. Most of us learnt a language growing up that serves to comminicate with our community in both a written and spoken form (however, some are not so lucky, due to physical or psychological issues) We learn it as we grow for one reason: survival. If we want to get fed, we have to communicate that we are hungry. If we are scared, we need to be able to explain the danger that is facing us.
As a baby, your parents were probably quite good at understanding the babblings and cooings you made as a kind of personalised pre-language to know when you were hungry, sleepy, scared or needed changing. Parents and guardians are very good at picking up on the needs of the people in their care. But you had to be able to communicate better. If you wanted one of the toys in front of you, it would help you acheive getting it if you said ‘Ball’ or ‘truck’, so the listener would know exactly what you wanted.
You aquired language as a necessity for your survival, pleasure and comfort.
Learning a second language requires a bit more work as we try so hard to learn it through our first language. It is very normal to say “What is this in English?” or “So ‘____’ is just like ‘___’ in English?”
When it is a language that is similar to your langage it is okay, but when it is two entirely different languages it gets confusing. One of the biggest problems I am finding in learning Korean and Japanese is that it is so hard to learn it through the context of English, because they are so vastly different. At times, I even find it a lot easier to learn Korean through Japanese, because they are at least slighty similar.
When you were a baby, the only way you could work out what something meant was through context. You would see and hear how it was used and learn from that.
A Korean baby can’t hear the word “비행기” and think “I think that’s Korean for ‘airplane’.” But they hear it said, maybe the parent points at a toy plane or a picture of a plane as they say it and the child will eventually put two and two together.
It can be a slow process, but it’s the best proven method to make you both natural and comfortable in that language – It made you fluent in your native language!
I know it is incredibly tough to learn another language without referencing your native language, but there are a couple of ways that you can try to work around your native tongue.

 

Go Sub-free

Copyright (C) SBS
Copyright (C) SBS

It’s so easy to watch television programs in the language you are studying and always have the subtitles on. It’s the safer and easier option which means you can take everything in as easily as if you were watching a show from your home.
But, you can find that you’ve watched an entire series and barely looked up from the words on the screen!
I love watching Japanese and Korean dramas without subtitles because I can really watch the performances and it’s a great way to test what I know and try to figure out the stuff I don’t know from other sources (i.e how it’s said, the context of the scene and the relationship between the speaker and listener).
It can be tough and you may miss some details, but it really does help (and gives you an excuse to watch it again later)!
Sometimes, as you improve, you will also find ways that the subtitle writers didn’t get it totally right or misunderstood and you can get an even clearer understanding of what the character is saying. I remember watching a Japanese drama where the subtitles consistantly made a mistake that confused me for ages until I watched it without, actually listened to the actual Japanese dialogue and suddenly it all made sense!

Stick to it

sticky note 1One method I use is to put up sticky notes around my bedroom and office space that have words in Japanese and/or Korean that have pictures to describe what the word or phrase means! I don’t put a single word of English on it so that I learn to recognise and appreciate it in that language. It’s a bit like pictionary, if you think about it!

sticky note 2Try to leave sticky notes or flashcards around for yourself so you learn to recognise them with ease. If you’re feeling tricky as you boost the difficulty, perhaps write a description of what the word or phrase means IN the language you’re learning. If you have friends who speak that language fluently, get them to write some of the words and answers for you so that 1) you can’t cheat (because, if you wrote it, you might remember it) and 2) you’ll know for sure that it’s right!

Read it and weep (or don’t weep)

Try buying a book in the language of your choice. Try reading a bit of it from time to time and see how much of it you understand or just try to look at the grammar and sentence structure to get a better understanding of that. Reading an original book in the language will give you a good feeling for how it is consumed on a day-to-day basis and help you really immerse yourself. Don’t worry if the book makes absolutely NO sense to begin with, just keep studying and soon enough you’ll start to pick stuff up.
I bought myself a book of Korean poetry (which was a difficult first choice) and I’m finding with time that I can pick out more and more that I understand. I’ve got a long way to go, but it really helps to have that as a marker of where I’m up to!

Take it social

Again, the more you immerse yourself the more comfortable around the language you will become. I try to make myself unescapably surrounded by all of the languages I am trying to learn – and that includes online too!
On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, I try my best to keep my exposure to language high. I’ll follow Korean and Japanese people on Instagram and Twitter and try my best to read their messages. Interacting with people is great because it’s a perfect opportunity to test your written knowledge and try have a chat with people.
(Of course, always be careful of who you talk to online. There are creeps everywhere and in every language, so always use your common sense when talking to strangers)
I always keep my ‘Trending Topics’ bar on Twitter set to either Japanese or Korean and I’ll make sure that every time I check Twitter that I am reading every trending topic.
On Facebook, I follow the Korean Huffinton Post, Korean stores like G Market and Retrip (a Japanese online magazine) which is great for a casual glance over the news and makes a nice buffer between quizzes and stressed-out revision statuses!

Listen up

Listening to audiobooks, like reading, gives you a subtitle-free and pure exposure to a text but also has the added benefit of being able to hear clear pronunciation, often totally uninterrupted by noisy surroundings or music that you would find in at TV show or movie.
There is a huge wealth of audiobooks available online, so have a look around and have a listen!
I’m currently listening to the Korean radio play adaptation of Don Quichotte by SBS that is available to listen to on Youtube!

I hope this piece is helpful to you! If you have any questions, please share them in the comments or over on Facebook or Twitter! Xx

K-Drama and Actor Names in Korean

It’s great being a foreign consumer of Korean dramas. We get the benefit of having an outsider appreciation for them and can enjoy the community of people to whom these shows are a luxury, not just everyday viewing that can be taken for granted. As an outside consumer, you get the experience of getting to fully appreciate these programs as new and exciting, where often Koreans see shows like this all the time and they aren’t all that special. We get a whole new angle of appreciation, much like foreign viewers of our television shows find them much more exciting than us.

However, it can hinder our appreciation to not know the name of a show or an actor, especially when you are talking to a Korean friend who may not know the English title of the drama you’re discussing. It also comes in handy when writing to know the Hangul for an actor or show – or, if you can’t type it in Korean, you can copy+paste it from here ;).
If you are interested in learning to type Hangul, I’ve done a piece of adding keyboards on Windows and you can also buy hangul stickers to add you to your keyboard to help you type faster:

Drama Titles

Secret Garden – 시크릿 가든
Heirs (The Inheritors) – 상속자들
(The First Shop Of) Coffee Prince – 커피 프린스 1호점
Boys Over Flowers – 꽃보다 남자
My Love From Another Star – 별에서 온 그대
City Hunter – 시티헌터
Sweden Laundry – 스웨덴 세탁소
Healer – 힐러
Kill me, Heal me – 킬미, 힐미
Doctor Stranger – 닥터 이방인
Tomorrow Cantabile – 내일도 칸타빌레
The Great Doctor (or Faith) – 신의
She’s So Lovable (or My Lovable Girl) – 내겐 너무 사랑스러운 그녀
Fun fact: Google Translate thinks that ‘내겐 너무 사랑스러운 그녀’ means ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ which is a 2007 film starring Ryan Gosling, about a man who falls in love with a life size woman doll! You can get it on DVD on Amazon:

Anyway, moving back along!
Reply 1997 – 응답하라 1997
Good Doctor – 굿 닥터
Rooftop Prince – 옥탑방 왕세자
You’re Beautiful – 미남이시네요
School 2013 – 학교 2013

Iris – 아이리스
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop – 꽃미남 라면가게
To The Beautiful You – 아름다운 그대에게
Personal Taste – 개인의 취향
Emergency Couple – 응급남녀

You may notice that a few of these titles are actually the English words written in Hangul, such as “Good Doctor” and “Secret Garden”. That’s quite common to find in Korean dramas, though I’m not too sure why!

Now, knowing Korean actor’s names comes in very handy, especially when trying to look up accurate filmographies and interviews. Here is a list of just some of the names that you may need to know (If I happen to miss someone you want to know, just ask in the comments or on Facebook)

Lee Min ho – 이민호
Kim Soo Hyun – 김수현
Park Shin hye – 박신혜
Kim Woo Bin – 김우빈
Jun Ji Hyun – 전지현
T.O.P (Choi Seung Hyun) – 최승현
Park Min Young – 박민영
Hyun Bin – 현빈
Suzy – 수지
Lee Jong Suk – 이종석
Ha Ji Won – 하지원
Sandara Park – 박산다라
Song Joong Ki – 송중기
Park Yoo Chun – 박유천
Gong Yoo – 공유

You may notice as you learn more Korean that the Romanized spellings of some Korean names don’t fully match the original. This is, again, another example of how relying on romanizaion can hold back your progress and do more harm than good. It’s best to try to learn hangul as soon as you can as it will help your progress with the language all around. I actually found it really helpful to read Korean names as a way to practice my hangul and pronunciation.

I hope you enjoyed this piece! If you have any comments or questions please share them in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter! Xx

Using Kdramas To Learn Korean

©SBS
©SBS

Learning Korean is fun and rewarding, but it isn’t the easiest language there is to learn. This means that we need a helping hand where possible, and television can be really useful. As well as studying Korean in textbooks and online, I use Korean dramas to reinforce my learning. It is really useful to have a casual and native source of dialogue where there is little to no risk of being taught meaningless phrases – which has happened to me a number of times.
A lot of foreigners use British and American television for learning English, so it makes sense that it works in the reverse.

Really listen

I know it’s easy when watching the dramas to kind of glaze over the words being spoken (with the usual exception of ‘oppa’, ‘eonni’, ‘eotteoke’ and ‘jinjja’) and just watch the subtitles all the time. You’re going to have to curb that habit and pay attention to the dialogue. Listen to the words and try to learn the individual words and phrases.
If a phrase sticks out at you that you understand, write it down and try to listen out for when it pops up in future.

Compare

Korean books 2When you study Korean in the textbooks, try to listen out for each of the phrases you learn in the dramas you watch. Some of them, like “남대문 열려있다”/”namdaemun yeolyeoitda” (Translation: “The south gate is open.” Meaning: “Your fly is open”) will not occur very much, but listening out for the Korean you know will get you hearing and beginning to comprehend the dialogue you are hearing.

Turn off subtitles

When you are beginning to find your feet in the language, try turning off the subtitles and watching the drama without them and seeing, from the amount of Korean you know, how much you understand of what is going on in the story.
It might not make a ton of sense for a while, but you’ll start understanding more and more with time, practice and immersion.

Personal taste

Just like anywhere in the world, people’s voices can differ hugely and that can be a big help to hear and identify little details in the language that you many not have noticed before. Listen for the way individual actors speak as a way of helping your comprehension and pronunciation. Lee Min Ho speaks Korean quite differently from his former ‘Heirs’ co-star Kim Woo Bin and Kim Soo Hyun’s voice isn’t the same as Bigbang’s T.O.P (Choi Seung Hyun).
Also, pay attention to the little bits of emphasis in the words. Those could go a long way to helping you remember the meaning, the way to convey emotion in the voice as well as help you to hear every sound in the word (which comes in very handy when you’re learning to write in Hangul)

Getting it right way ’round

One of the things that listening to Korean dramas helps with the most is sentence structure. Because the speaking is so natural, but slower than the usual conversation between Korean people (which is incredibly fast), it is easier to hear which order the words come in for more complex sentences than you are often taught in textbooks. In textbooks, the phrases you are taught are often very basic, but dialogue is a lot more complex, and thus great for learning practical skills needed for natural conversation.

Overall, try to focus on the language with as little relation to English as possible. It is its own unique language, and the less you try to understand it with regard to a totally different language, the better grasp of it you will develop in time. Understand that also a lot of words and phrases don’t directly translate to English. For example, the phrase “힘내요” is used to say “It’s okay” or “Don’t worry”, but often it is translated as “Cheer up”, which can mean that it is often misused and seems weird when used in the correct context, because it doesn’t match up with the English “meaning”.

I really hope this piece helps you to improve your Korean study (and perhaps give you a good excuse for more Kdrama marathons). Let me know what you think of this piece in the comments below and come join us on the Facebook and Twitter! X

Tongue twisters from around the world

Tongue twisters are words or phrases that are difficult and confusing to say. learning and performing tongue twisters is a common pass-time for kids on the UK, but I never realised until I met my best friend (and guest writer on Learn With Amy) that tongue twisters are hugely popular all around the world!

So, for all you language enthusiasts out there, how many of these tongue twisters from around the globe can you say?

First: How do tongue twisters work?

Tongue twisters are phrases that are difficult to articulate as they require fast delivery and/or contain a complex combinations of phonemes. Often they contain two or more sounds that alternate between use of the lips, tongue, jaw and larynx.
Many studies have tried to identify how the complex phrases affect the brain, but the studies have found that tongue twisters actually slow down how fast the brain takes in the information. Tongue twisters aren’t just hard to say, they’re hard to READ too!

English:

The most commonly loved tongue twister in the UK is the famous rhyme, based on the story of Mary Anning, that goes:

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.

As it turns out, Mary Anning was actually selling various fossils on the sea-shore as a supplemental income to her family!

Gilbert and Sullivan were famous writers of comic operas that featured tongue twisting lyrics that fast paced and comedic. One of their most popular operettas was The Mikado (Sometimes called ‘The Town Of Titipu’), an opera that satirised British politics and society – made acceptable by subtly masking it with the Japanese setting.
One of the songs, entitled ‘I Am So Proud’ features these very tricky to say (and SING) lines:

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a lifelong lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

Some tongue twisters also try to get you to say ‘bad words’ as a trick for getting muddled.
Try the following tongue twister and see if you can say it all without swearing:

I slit the sheet,
The sheet I slit
and on the slitted sheet I sit.

Did you say it? Eh?
How about this one? Be careful – You might say something you don’t mean! Tee hee

I am not the pheasant plucker,
I’m the pheasant plucker’s mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
Because the pheasant plucker’s late.

Not that easy, are they? Well, things are about to get a lot trickier as we bring different languages into it! We all know that Japanese is quite a tough language, but it’s about to get a lot trickier as we take a quick look at the tongue twisters that even Japanese people find difficult!

Japanese:

In Japanese, the word for ‘tongue twister’ is ‘早口言葉’/’hayakuchi kotoba’ which directly translates as ‘fast mouth words’ – No kidding!
Here’s a fairly easy one to start off with:

“生麦、生米、生卵”
”なまむぎ、なまごめ、なまたまご”
“Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago”

The meaning of this phrase is “Raw wheat, raw rice, raw eggs”. Tricky, but they get harder!

“蛙ぴょこぴょこ三ぴょこぴょこ、合わせてぴょこぴょこ六ぴょこぴょこ”
”かえるぴょこぴょこみぴょこぴょこ、あわせてぴょこぴょこむぴょこぴょこ”
“Kaeru pyoko pyoko mi pyoko pyoko, awasete pyoko pyoko mu pyoko pyoko”

This one, which hurts to say, translates as “A frog jumps twice, three times and six times in all.”

If you’re a fan of gardening and fine cuisine, give this one a go:

“にわの庭には、二羽の鶏はにわかにわにを食べた”
”にわのにわには、にわとりわにわかにわにおたべた”
“Niwa no niwa ni wa, niwa no niwatori wa niwakani wani o tabeta.”

This is such a fun one (and made me feel good, because I understood it without the translation – yay, go me!) and it translates as “in Niwa’s garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile”

Korean:

Korean can be a tough language for some to learn as the words can sometimes be quite long and a little less straightforward to say than Japanese can be. However, it’s a beautiful language that’s a lot of fun to learn and speak.
Now, from my experience, easy Korean tongue twisters are difficult to come by, but they’re very satisfying when you get them right. Let’s get this started off right, with a nice bit of soy:

“간장공장 공장장은 강공장장이고 된장공장 공장장은 공공장장이다”
“kan-jang-kong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kang kong-jang-jang-ee-go, dwen-jang-kong-jang kkong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kong kong-jang-jang-ee-da.”

This one means, “President Kang is the president of the soy sauce factory, and president Kong is president of the bean paste factory.”

“육통 통장 적금통장은 황색 적금통장이고, 팔통 통장 적금통장은 녹색 적금통장이다”
“Yuk-tong tong-jang jeog-geum-tong chang-eun hwang-saek jeog-geum-tong-jang-i-go, pal-tong tong-chang jeog-geum-tong jang-eun nok-saeg jeog-geum-tong-chang-i-da.”

This mouthful translates as “6 dong bank book savings book is the yellow bank savings book, 8 dong bank book savings book is the green bank savings book.”
Not easy, are they?!

 

So, what do you think? Do you like Japanese and Korean tongue twisters? Let us know what you think of them!

My top Korean Textbooks!

lwa photo tag

Recently I did a piece on my top Japanese books and that went down a treat with you all. Well, I also own a LOT of Korean books too, and so put together another list of learning materials that have really helped my learning!

 

Teach Yourself: Complete Korean

This book is fantastic and the first (good) Korean book I bought. It is informative and challenging, without being too much. The wide vocabulary that the book teaches is useful and encouraging. It isn’t simply a phrase book, it teaches a WIDE range of words and phrases as part of the lessons.The book starts off by teaching you Hangul and doesn’t really rely on Romanizations. It’s fantastic for teaching and reinforcing the information so it REALLY STICKS!

 

Korean From Zero!

From the same makers as Japanese from Zero, this book is just as satisfying as the Japanese original! Full of helpful exercises, from vocabulary, to grammar and handwriting, the exercises are fun and challenging to help you remember each topic as you study!

This book also comes with access to free MP3 downloads to aid your study!

 

Mastering Conversational Korean: Korean For Beginners

Funny, clever, informational and supportive, this book is a must have for a Korean learner. With a handy Hangul chart inside the front page, a free audio CD as well as fantastic materials, this book is one of my favourites. It is well written with humour and great insight that makes it so easy to take in. It also teaches you the valuable information of what NOT to do in Korean and some of the aspects of the language that can catch you out. The book is very well organised, with well laid out chapters, illustrations and relaxed and relatable language, you feel very supported – the author even uses emoticons and references Korean personalities!

Korean books 2

These are my 3 favourite Korean learning books. If I buy more (Which I most definitely will) I will share them on here so keep checking in!

Are there any books you’ve been considering buying? What are your favourite learning materials?

 

Join us over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (where I post a ridiculous number of selfies!) and join in the conversation there! Xx

 

Korean Phrase of the Day! 무서워(요)

IMG_0523.JPG
Today’s KPotD was inspired by my favourite internet cutie Yebin, in this video where her Mom teaches her how to say when she is frightened

This is a useful phrase for anyone travelling to Korea, as you can seek help from natives in dangerous or frightening situations, even if you don’t know enough Korean to describe the problem!

I’ll be back with another Korean Phrase of the Day very soon! Meanwhile, come connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Xx

 

Meet Yerin and Yeseo! Does Yebin have competition?!

 

©Youtube/Drama Fever

 

It seems like the whole internet is going mad for the gorgeous little cutie Yebin, who’s character and innocent charm keeps us hooked video after video. But it seems like little ‘baby Yebin’ may have some competition on her hands!

Thanks to the brilliance that is Youtube’s ‘suggested videos’ bar, I stumbled across a channel for two little Korean girls Yerin and Yeseo, run by their adoring father.                                                 ©Youtube/Drama Fever

The first video I saw was from 3 years ago of the elder girl, Yerin, battling between the joy of looking at her mother and her sleepiness.

The two sisters are so adorable and are absolute rays of light, clearly cherished by their parents. Their parents said that the aim of the channel was to “share the joy that my little girls brought to my life”. Mission accomplished!

One particular video had me near tears with cuteness, was this one:

(The older sister, Yerin, is saying “고맙습니다”/“Thank you” to her parents for the ice cream. However, the younger, Yeseo, is still very young and has difficulty saying it, so just chimes in at “다” with her sister.)

So, Yebin isn’t the only cutie on the block!

 

There is also a cute meaning to the name ‘Bobaepapa’, as ‘Bobae’ (보배) means ‘treasure’ in Korean. So cute!

Be sure to follow ‘Bobaepapa’ on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram as well as joining their fan club on Facebook and follow their blog!

 

Let me know what you think of this post. Send me a message using the contact form below, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! X

 

How to Read Hangul!

So, I’ll be uploading a lot of Korean lessons and dialogues for you guys, but I first wanted to teach you how to read Hangul, the Korean writing system, so that you know it and can progress with the lessons. Personally, I have never been great at reading the Romanized Korean and think it’s way simpler to just learn Hangul so if you learn it sooner, it’s better for you.

It looks quite scary to start with but once you have it down you’ll be just fine! And, seriously, it doesn’t actually take as long to learn as you think – I learnt it in like 6 hours!

Quick note: You’ve probably noticed from looking at Korean words that they don’t write stuff out in a long string of characters like we do. Instead of the string of letters we use in English, Korean characters are stacked into syllables. Take the informal casual word for thank you: Gomawo.
As you can see, in English it’s a string of letters g-o-m-a-w-o. But, in Korean, it’s broken in to syllables and then the characters are stacked to match. So gomawo becomes go-ma-wo or 고마워.

First things first!
In Korean, syllables always begin with a consonant! If a syllable begins with a vowel then the character ㅇ、which looks like an o with a stem at the top, and the vowel goes to the right or below it.
And remember that there’s always at least one consonant and one vowel to every syllable.
Consonants!

ㄱ [g/k]
ㄱ is spoken like a g sound, however it’s a ‘harder’ sound so it sounds like a mix between g and k.

ㄴ [n]
This n sound is a lot like the sound for ‘nose’, ‘never’ or ‘nope’. However, one important difference is tongue placement. In English when making the ‘n’ sound we often put our tongue to the roof of our mouth, just behind the front teeth. But, in Korean, you should put your tongue between your front teeth – almost like biting your tongue.

ㄷ [t, d]
This sound is kind of a mix between a ‘t’ and a ‘d’ sound. With the sound 다, it is pronounces almost like ‘tda’ with a very subtle ‘t’ sound before the ‘d’.

ㄹ [l/r]
This one’s a little tricky as it’s sometimes ‘l’, sometimes ‘r’ and often a mixture of the two.
For example, 2 in Korean is 일 ‘il’. That’s pronounced like ‘l’.
However, one common particle you will use in Korean is ‘를’, which is pronounced like ‘reul’

ㅁ [m]
This one is simply just a ‘m’ sound.

ㅂ [b, p]
This is said like softer ‘b’ sound. Think of the common Korean word ‘오빠’ it is written in Romanized Korean as ‘oppa’, when it is more of a softer ‘b’ than a regular ‘p’. Soften your be and you’ve got it!

ㅅ [s, sh]
This one changes depending what other characters it is combined with, but you will naturally pick it up as you listen to more spoken Korean (get watching those dramas!)
For example 사 and 소 are pronounced ‘sa’ and ‘so’ (a soft ‘o’, like in ‘sorry’), but 샤 and 쇼 sound like ‘sha’ and ‘sho’. You’ll naturally get a hang of the pronunciation with time, so don’t fret too much over it.

ㅇ [silent]
This is an interesting character, because if it comes at the beginning of a syllable, it is silent. It is only paired with a vowel for grammatical purposes and doesn’t make a sound.
The only time ㅇ makes a sound is if it is at the end of a syllable. When placed at the end of a syllable, ㅇ makes the ‘ng’ sound.
For example, the word 응 uses ㅇ in both ways. The first one is used to allow the vowel ㅡ to make a sound (‘uh’), while the second one adds the ‘ng’ sound on the end making the word ‘ung’ (This is a very informal word used to say yes, to convey interest or to say like “Go on”, to show you’ve realised something or when hanging up the phone. This is bit of a tricky word and you need to know how to use if- if you want to know more here’s a link to the Youtuber ‘ChoNunMigookSaram’ talking about the word 응)

ㅈ [j, ch]
This character sounds like a hard ‘j’ or a softer ‘ch’ sound, depending on what characters it is partnered with.
For example, 자 and 저 are pronounced quite differently. The first one if ‘Ja’ while the second one sounds more like ‘cho’.
I know these changing sounds can be quite confusing at first, but with regular listening you will naturally start to pick up on the differences quickly!

ㅊ [ch]
While the last character was a little dubious whether it made a ‘j’ or a ‘ch’ sound, this character is a lot simpler – It’s just a stronger ‘ch’ sound than before.

ㅋ [k]
Is like ‘ㄱ’, but instead of being a soft k, it’s a hard ‘k’ sound.
So, while 기 is like ‘gi’, 키 is ‘ki’.

ㅌ [t]
Remember ㄷ? Well this is the same again, but this time it makes a strong ‘t’ sound.
In Korean, the word for note is 노트 “No-tu”. And the reason it’s ㅌ instead of ㄷ is because ㅌ is a hard T sound.

ㅍ [p]
This is like ㅂ, but this time it is a hard ‘p’ sound (sorry, that sounds dirty XD)

ㅎ [h]
This one is very easy as this sound doesn’t change much with different words and uses. This one is, quite simply, just the usual ‘h’ sound that we are very used to already in English.

Vowels!
아 [a]
This vowel makes the sound ‘a’, like ‘and’ or ‘harp’. Say it like ‘ahh’ rather than ‘ay’ or ‘ar’, as it’s quite a soft breathy sound.

  • 야 This is just like 아/a, but the addition of another stroke makes it ‘ya’

 

어 [eo]
This particular one used to catch me out all the time as the Romanization is really deceptive, in that it leads us to think that we are supposed to be making an “ee-oh” sound, when it’s really more of an “uh”.
The proper use of this one is one that you will naturally become more comfortable with as you listen, read and speak more Korean.

  • 여 is like 야, as in that the additional stroke adds a ‘y’ onto the beginning.

So 어/eo becomes 여/yeo (pronounced ‘yuh’)

우 [u]

This one can be one of the trickier to pronounce as it’s so tempting to fall into the trap of pronouncing it as “oo” (like “moo”). It is a little like the “oo” sound, except it is cut short. Listen to the pronunciation of the work “Hanguk” (Korea) and listen to the short “u” sound. You’re aiming for that kind of clipped sound.

  • Add another stoke and 우 becomes 유/yu!

오 [o]
This character makes an ‘o’ sound. It’s not a long sound, but quite a clipped ‘o’.

  • Again with the last three, adding an extra stroke to 오 makes it 요/yo.

으 [oo]
Like 오 this character does make and ‘o’ sound, but it is elongated and pronounced more like ‘oo’.
Unlike the others, this one does not change with the addition of another line (In circumstances that you would need that, I believe 유 would suffice)

And finally

이 [i]
This one is nice and simple. It’s just an ‘ee’ sound. Possible the easiest one there is, 이 just so similar to I in English, that there’s not much to get confused over!

I hope you’ve found this piece helpful in learning Hangul.
If you have any further comments, questions (or corrections), message me using the form below and I’ll get back to you!
감사합니다~!