Tag Archives: hangul

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

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

 

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~!