Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Things You Gotta Do: Learn Korean

This is the first post in my series that is going to focus on how to survive in Korea and how to make the most out of your time here. Think of it as a combination travel guide and survival guide.

First thing's first: LEARN KOREAN

I'm not talking about becoming fluent, though that should be anyone's end goal when learning a new language. However, it is of the utmost importance that you learn how to read and pronounce Korean letters ASAY (as soon as yesterday). This will make your life about 1,000 x easier.

The alphabet is ridiculously easy to learn, so there are no excuses for not knowing it.
I mean, just look at it for a second and you'll see what I mean by "easy"
The way that I taught it to myself was that I wrote seating charts for my classes. This may not sound that impressive, but I teach 28 different classes with 15-40 girls in each class, making a seating chart was a massive undertaking. I had all of them write their names in Korean and in English and went through and just copied all their names. Sure, this wont teach you the few letters that are rarely used in Korean names, but you can learn those five of six letters on your own.

But, be prepared, once you learn the letters you will be trying to read every sign you come across. You'll notice you're walking a lot slower because you really want to read what that store name is, even if you can't understand it. The major benefit about learning the alphabet quickly is that it makes the subway and bus systems a lot more manageable.

Next thing you need to do is learn the basics. You can't understand how appreciative Koreans will be that you are at least trying to speak to them in their language. They're a very kind and welcoming people, for the most part, but they will almost faint with joy when you show you're making an effort to connect to them.

So please, learn to say 안녕하세요 (annyounghasaeyo= hello), 감사합니다 (gamsahapnida= thank you), and learn how to count.
Ok... so numbers are kinda difficult because there's two different sets and they are used for different things.
My Korean is not the strongest, far from it, but I am making an honest attempt at getting better.

There are all kinds of language learning opportunities. There are class that will cost you anywhere from $500-$0. There are also language exchanges. This is where you teach them English while they teach you Korean. You can do these either in one-on-one settings or in large groups of people.

Two resources that I've found very helpful are the Mannam Language Courses (free) and KoreanClass101.com (free for basic, but you have to pay for the frills). However, there is nothing better for learning a new language than becoming friends with native speakers. More on that later!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post Margaret. This was a great help because I'm actually taking a trip to Korea. So one of the first thing's I thought I should do is learn Korean, that's when I went online to do some research and came across your blog. You have been a huge help, I know I won't get fluent in it but I'm just hoping to learn the basics so I'm not completely lost. I'll be sure to check out those links you posted, thanks again for the read.