Monday, November 12, 2012

100 Things I Love About Korea: #10 - Learning Korean

Korean is a fun language.  It is a mixture of complexity and simplicity, formality and hilarity.  Many Koreans will tell you that the Korean language is the greatest and most scientific language in the world.  They even have a national holiday celebrating HanGuel - the Korean alphabet, "invented" by King SeJeong the Great.
I don't really buy all of the nationalistic propaganda, but they are right about a few things.  The alphabet is surprisingly simple to learn.  With a few flash cards, you can memorize all the letters and their basic sounds within a week of mild study.  Also, in terms of pronunciation, Korean is mostly regular.  There aren't seven different ways to say one vowel, as there are in English.  There are a few special rules, but they are fairly easy to master.
I have to admit I'm not fluent - not even close.  But I can carry on a stumbling conversation for a good while.  And I haven't mastered the complexities of Korean grammar and levels of formality, but I'm getting there.
One of my biggest regrets about my time in Korea is that I didn't invest more time studying Korean in my first year or two.  I wish that I had done intensive programs in the winter (when I wasn't traveling or teaching) and serious weekly classes.  If I had done that, by now I'd be truly fluent.
About a year or two ago, I finally crossed the threshold for learning Korean.  I now have enough critical mass of vocabulary, grammar structure, and listening comprehension to have real conversations with people.  Now, I can learn Korean more easily simply by participating in what is going on around me.  If i had crossed this threshold years ago, my Korean would be light years beyond what it is now.
So for those of you who are still in Korea or are coming soon, let me recommend my favorite Korean teacher.  Her name is Choi JeongYoon (최정윤), and she is a graduate of Korea Nazarene University's speech therapy program.  Since then, she has earned a certificate in teaching Korean as a second language.  She is reliable and effective.  She has three years experience, and she speaks English very well.  She usually runs a variety of classes - from true beginning to intermediate.  Every semester she does some special events - including a Korean cooking lesson and a Korean market day.
She also schedules private lessons for those who are more advanced or need a special time.  For the group classes, the price  is a very reasonable 15,000 an hour.  Check out her brochure here, or contact her directly: (010-2774-6526 or fflssa[at]  
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