Thinking of learning Korean?
What better way to experience a culture or society than to learn the language? If there is a way, I can hardly think of it. For many, the difficulty in learning a whole new unrelated language and the hours required, are outweighed by the fact that most people foreigners will only be here a few years at most. Therefore, any kind of investment of time and money would hardly be worth it. However, those willing to put in a little time and effort will find Korean to be fun and easy to pick up (save the grammar)!
King Saejong is said to be Korea’s greatest king, and revered by the North and South! One of his greatest achievements was the commission of the Korean writing system, known as Hangeul. This system of writing, which mostly consists of simple dash marks, is considerably easier from the Chinese characters once used by Koreans to write their language. Wanting to make literacy an easy experience, the system is beyond easy tolearn and designed to be mastered with little effort. I personally learned the writing in 6 hours after being bed-ridden with a cold.
After learning the basics and by basics I mean ordering food, greetings, and asking girls numbers, one should start to increase vocabulary and learn basic grammar. English speakers will be delighted to learn that many Korean words actually originate in English (Konglish): computer, sauna, kill, cheese, fighting, etc. These words are simply transliterated, usually with the extra syllable “e” or “a” at the end (although Hangeul is remarkably efficient and phonetic, it is worth noting that it is extremely limited in its capacity, thus making many words either impossible or very funny, for example, bus is pronounced bussu, and the word five would be correctly said pa-ib-uh, which goes a long way to explain Korean mispronunciations).
After learning most of the basics, many foreigners resort to taking classes or language exchange. Language exchanges are meetings with Koreans where time is split between learning English and Korean. Given the fact that most Koreans are quite patriotic, most are happy- if they have the time- to exchange their language. This is true because, as previously mentioned, Koreans love to see foreigners speaking Korean, plus many need to master English to get into prestigious schools and jobs. These, coupled with watching Korean movies and listening to music (likely K-pop), will serve as a good step to helping with pronunciation and intonation. Any person serious about becoming fluent should enroll in college or hogwon (private institute).
Picking up a second language isn’t for everyone, but for those willing to pick up Korean many doors can open. From making friends, to picking up part time jobs, to getting more dates, life is improved and made incredibly easier with the effort. I am no expert, but I have taken the time to learn several thousand words and how to make small conversation. I found that the time I have invested has paid off 10 fold simply by the time saved of doing simple, everyday tasks that could otherwise take eternity. It is also fun to surprise people while nailing the difficult accent!