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Everything You Need to Know About Hangul

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The popularity of Korean culture in Singapore is soaring. Every day, more Singaporeans are enrolling for Korean courses in Singapore to learn more Korean, to satisfy their burning interest in Korean cuisine, dramas, game shows, and movies.

If you are just starting out to learn Korean, or just can’t hold the curiosity any longer and would like to understand more about the phenomena that is Hallyu (the Korean Wave), here’s a couple of things you should know about Hangul.

Where to Start Learning

Learning the Korean language – Hangul– is probably the best place to start learning the Korean culture.

When you sign up for Korean lessons in Singapore, you’ll learn how to recognise (both written and sound) and pronounce Korean sounds. Therefore you’ll have to learn the Hangul alphabet first.

Although it may seem a bit difficult at first, it’s much easier for a Singaporean, especially if you can communicate in Mandarin and Malay. Hangul Alphabet has 24 letters: 14 consonants and 10 vowels. It is a phonetic language and everything sounds just as it is spelled. There are no silent characters.

How Useful are Phrasebooks and Textbooks

Going to a Korean language school in Singapore is more effective than just reading textbooks and phrasebooks. One shortcoming of phrasebooks and textbooks is that they often contain several unused words and out-dated phrases. When what you really want is to learn the practical words you can use everyday.

Begin By Learning the Practical Words

When you’re enrolled in a Korean class in Singapore you must get comfortable with the idea of learning lots of new words. You just have to and there’s no way around it. However, you don’t have to know all the words in the new language. Moreover, you don’t even have to know half the words of Hangul to speak it well.

Learn the practical words first and you’ll communicate faster and with less effort.

Honorific Forms and Expressing Respect

As you get to slightly advanced Korean language classes in Singapore, you’ll get to learn that in Hangul, age, position, and gender are taken more seriously than in Western cultures. You may think that the western influence on Korea is heavy. However, Hangul recognises various complex structures of social interaction. The way you address a company CEO, even if he or she is your childhood friend, is quite different from the way you would talk to your younger sibling. For starters, it’s safer to focus on using the polite –요, “yo” suffix.

Also, honorific infixes surface when talking about someone regarded with more respect. For instance, if you were having a conversation with your friend, then you start talking about his or her mother, the basic verbs change as a way of showing her respect.

Also, people prefer being referred to by their titles rather than their names, at least in professional settings.

Gender Bias in Expressions

On the same breath, during your Korean language classes in Singapore, you’ll discover that in Hangul different genders have distinct preferences in their choice of certain words, expressions of politeness and intonation. For example, Korean men use the honorific forms more frequently in their conversations. Men would say 진짜 (Really) less than girls whereas kids prefer 정말. (Really)

Finally, Remember to Express Adjectives as Verbs

In Hangul, an adjective is expressed as an ‘active state of being.’ In other words, adjectives are used as verbs. For example, you don’t say the girl is pretty rather you say she’s being pretty. Likewise, the coffee isn’t hot but it’s being hot.

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