Common Challenges Faced When Learning The Korean Language
Learning a new language, especially as an adult, can be an intimidating experience. Compared to a child, an adult has to invest considerably more time and effort to achieve the same progress.
If you are currently in the middle of learning a language – hats off to you. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle to overcome is first to start, so if you already have your head deep in the textbooks, you’re well on your way. Explored below are a few of the most commonly experienced challenges new learners face when starting their Korean language journey.
Although not unique to the Korean language, beginners often struggle with its pronunciation. Many might have the assumption that the Korean language is relatively easy as it doesn’t have tonality like its language predecessor, Chinese languages, nor does it have complex aspirated sounds like the French and Arabic language. In fact, the majority of Korean is easy to pronounce, partly due to its phonetic writing script.
However, many learners still come across stumbling blocks. For instance, the writing system carries aspirated letters such as ㅋ(double K) and ㅃ (double P). To distinguish them with their unaspirated counterparts, you will have to emphasize the consonant and pronounce it as a hard letter. This may be tricky, especially if you wish to put them in a sentence.
The Korean language also has tripthongs, which are unusual vowels combined with another. For instance, 의is pronounced as ‘eui’ which requires you to shape your mouth in an unfamiliar manner. It’ll take time getting used to. However, making mistakes often is key to fluency, so don’t shy away from putting your newly learned language skills into practice.
ABC Easy as 1,2,3
On that note, the Korean writing script, also known as hangul, appears very different compared to the Latin alphabet and it may seem rather daunting at first. But don’t be intimidated just yet! As we’ve mentioned, hangul is entirely phonetic. Thus, you can somewhat guess the spelling of the words just by breaking the words down to their sounds. Identification may be a challenge, as many characters look somewhat similar to one another, but once you’ve gotten past that, reading and writing get considerably easier.
Getting in the Practice
Singapore, as a multicultured country, is the perfect place to learn and absorb different cultures, traditions and language. Make a friend with a Korean native or two. However, if you aren’t able to befriend one, you can always buddy up with someone from your Korean classes. Not only is it the perfect excuse to practice outside your lessons, but it’ll be relatively easier since your proficiency of the language is roughly the same – assuming that the two of you are in the same level.
Picking up a foreign language is, undoubtedly, daunting. The unfamiliarity and challenges may even push you to fall back to your native tongue but don’t give up just yet! Practice makes perfect and with the resources, the right aptitude and time, you’d be able to master the Korean language in no time!