1. Use phonetics to learn the basics
When learning a new alphabet it is SO useful to start learning using sounds in your own language or alphabet. For example, learning the sounds for ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ and ㅅ I started by pronouncing them phonetically; Kuh Nuh Duh R/Luh Muh Buh and Suh. It sounds daft, but I found the romanisations really difficult to read, especially when trying to distinguish between sounds like ㅂ, ㅍ and ㅃ. I only learned the difference by sounding it out myself (Buh, Puh and Buh). I used underlining to indicate heavier emphasis on a sound.
ㄹ was also a difficult sound for me to figure out. The best way I can describe it is a sound that’s halfway between and ‘L’ sound and a ‘R’ sound – which I spelt phonetically as R/Luh.
They do also have their own individual names, which might be useful for you to learn, but at first focus on how they sound and then what the letter is called.
2. Flash cards
Flash cards are one of the most effective tools when learning a new language. And learning to read an entirely new alphabet is challenging. which is why you need to re-train your brain to recognise these new symbols as a series of sounds. You need to re-program your brain!
Flash cards engage ‘active recall’ which creates stronger neuron connections for a memory trace. And because flashcards can so easily facilitate repetition, they are the best way to create multiple memory-enhancing recall events.
When you reveal the answer side of a flashcard to see if you were right or not, you are essentially asking yourself “How well did I know (or not know) it?” This act of self-reflection and assessment is known as metacognition. Applying metacognition tends to ingrain memories deeper into your knowledge, as well as motivation you to work harder to learn. You compete against your past self.
Because flashcards can be self made and exist separately from a book or document, you are able to separate them into piles based on whether (or how often) you need to study them again as well as categories of learning best suited to you. For example I separated my vowels and consonants into separate piles, and then sorted them into corresponding sounds. This practice of confidence-based repetition has been proven to be the most scientifically optimised way to improve memory performance.
3. Sound it out
Konglish (콩글리쉬) is the Korean version of English words. For example paperclip in Korean is 클립 or Keul-Lip. There are lots of words in Korean that sound similar to English, and if it helps ‘Koreanise’ other words to learn how to pronounce those letters. Your name is a good place to start with this, once you know how to spell your name in Hangul, you will always know how to pronounce those letters.
4. Learn, and practice, writing properly
My teacher taught me to write Hangul “like a Korean” which has meant not only do I now think about how the letters are written, but I can see why they are written that way and how the sounds of these letters relate to one another. It has also made my hand writing look sooo much neater.
5. Listen and spell it out
If you have language learning apps like Duolingo or Memrise to assist your learning – if not, download them, they’re really useful – you have the opportunity to listen to Korean being spoken and then learning how to write out the spoken phrases. This is an exercise that I use when listening to music or watching Korean TV or movies. If I hear a word I recognise or if a phrase or word stands out I will try to spell it out from sound and then check it afterwards.
This helps you learn and memorise useful words and phrases as well as learning what letters are used for what tense and word. Often words sound similar, but are spelt differently. For example 아빠 and 아파.
6. Learn songs (and use subtitles)
If you are into Korean music, learning the lyrics to a song or two will not only help you to read the letters, but it will also help you pronounce them when combined into words. It’s also a quick way to learn phrases and words that you may use in the future. *korean unnie link*
You can also do this when watching Korean TV or movies by watching with Korean audio and first using English subtitles and then in Korean. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on English subtitles because this will stop you from being able to learn how to listen to and understand Korean.This will also introduce you briefly to Korean sentence structure and grammar.
There are plenty of YouTube channels which are dedicated to helping you learn Korean in an effective way. I recommend Korean Unnie as she speaks both English and Korean in her videos and makes learning Korean fun and easy. Wass’up #DongDongSquad? 안녕 동동’s
7. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
Learning an entirely new alphabet is hard, it takes time to learn how to speak when your a child and so learning another as an adult can be a struggle. It is going to be difficult but don’t give up and keep practising. In fact, think about how you learned the alphabet as a child, or how you would teach a child the alphabet and use the same techniques.
It’s going to take time but you will get the grasp of it in no time. And after that, you will feel so chuffed with yourself. For example, I went to a movie with my father and there was a scene where we saw people all over the world, in different cities, watching news reports on TV. I was so excited when I saw signs that I knew were in Korean and I was able to read what they said aloud. That was pretty cool.
Keep it up guys. Work hard, you can do it! 화이팅!
Are you learning Korean? What tips do you have? Please comment them below.
한국어 배우고 있어요? 당신의 조언은 무엇입니까? 코멘트 해 주세요.
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