How to improve my Korean language skills?
Korean is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people and 5.6 million consider Korean as a Heritage Language. It is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. Of the 3000 languages in use currently, Korean is known to be the 13th most commonly used language. It is a recognised minority language in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin Province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Russia and Central Asia. The English word “Korean” is derived from Goryeo, which is thought to be the first Korean dynasty known to Western nations. Korean people in the former USSR refer to themselves as Koryo-saram and/or Koryo-in and call the language Koryo-mal. Historical and modern linguists classify Korean as a language isolate. Modern Korean is understood to have descended from the Middle Korean, that emerged from the Old Korean, which itself, culminated from the Proto-Koreanic language, that is suggested to have its linguistic homeland somewhere in Manchuria.
Here are a few ways you can improve your Korean at home. Use one of these tips every day and you’ll be surprised at how strong your Korean gets all along!
The key to learning Korean is by exposing yourself to and practising the language as much as possible. Sure, it’s going to be more challenging if you’re not living in Korean culture, but there are still numerous ways for you to incorporate Korean into your daily routine.
Read in Korean every day. It doesn’t matter what – just get reading! The most important thing is to read on a topic that interests you. If you’re into cooking – read a Korean food blog. If you like reading women’s magazines, why not read the online Korean versions of magazines like Marie Claire and Vogue? Current events your thing? Check out Korean newspapers, Le Chosun Ilbo (daily), Dong-A Ilbo (daily), JoongAng Ilbo (daily), Hankook Ilbo (daily), Hankyoreh (daily), Munhwa Ilbo (daily), Kyunghyang Shinmun (daily), Seoul Shinmun (daily). For literature lovers, read a book you’ve enjoyed in English, in Korean. Remember to write down any vocabulary you don’t know so you can look them up later.
Labels items in your home or office. Write down the Korean name of objects in your home or office on a post-it note, then stick the note to the object. Every time you look at the item, say the Korean name aloud.
Listen to Korean radio. Korean sounds vastly different from how it is written, so an essential part of your home study must include listening to Korean. Thank heavens for the internet, where you can listen to Korean radio without any further delay. Check out KBS1Radio, KBS 2Radio, KBS 3Radio, KBS 1FM, KBS 2FM, KBS Hanminjok Radio, KBS World Radio, Key transmitters, where you can listen to a variety of programs in Korean from theatre and music.
Talk to yourself in Korean. Admit it: sometimes you mutter to yourself. We all say things like: “Where are my keys?” or “What should I make for dinner tonight?” or even “Let’s go.” Think about what phrases you say the most – try to come up with at least 5 of them– and translate them into Korean. And from now on say them in Korean. When you can, practice saying them in the mirror so you can observe the way your mouth moves as you speak.
Keep a Korean diary. You can write whatever you like in this diary: Write about the weather. Make a grocery list. What you plan to do that day. What you already did that day. A description of a colleague at work. Until you’re comfortable with one topic, we recommend focusing on practising the same until you finally start understanding it..
Get a Korean chat partner. There’s no escape – to truly learn Korean you must speak it. Thanks to communication programs like Hello Talk, Italki, Skype and Google Talk, you can do language exchange with a native Korean speaker. You’d speak in Korean for 30 minutes, then your partner would speak in English 30 minutes, with each of you correcting the other. Check out websites such as Conversation Exchange and How Do You Do for more details.
Create colour-coded flashcards for vocabulary and nouns. That way, when you review your vocabulary list, you’ll begin to associate the word and its article with a particular colour.
Pay attention to honorifics, pitch and tone to aim to speak like a native. The relationship between the speaker/writer and subject referent is reflected in honorifics, whereas that between speaker/writer and audience is reflected in speech level. Korea is a patriarchal society that had a negative attitude toward women, so a female prefix was added to the default lexicon, including terms for titles and occupations. Another crucial difference between genders of men and women is the tone and pitch of their voices and how that affects the perception of politeness.
Learn your grammar well. The Korean language is traditionally considered to have nine parts of speech. The basic form of a Korean sentence is a subject-object-verb, but the verb is the only required and immovable element and word order is highly flexible, as in many other agglutinative languages like Korean.
Create a “Korean movie night.” Watching movies or Korean programs can be a great way to help absorb spoken Korean – if it’s done right. If you’re new to Korean, it’s probably best to watch a Korean TV series or even cartoons rather than a full-length feature film. (The voices on children’s programs usually speak clearly and don’t use much slang, making it much easier to understand.) If you’re ready for a feature film, avoid watching it with English subtitles, as you’ll be doing more reading than listening to Korean. Instead, try to get a Korean film that offers Korean subtitles for the hearing impaired. The Korean words will help you understand oral Korean better as well as improve your reading.
Listen to Korean music. Nothing can pull you deep inside a language better than a KPop song. Find your favourite Korean tune on YouTube and learn the song by heart. Pay close attention to pronunciation.
Play pretend. Lookup a Korean restaurant on the internet and study the menu. Pretend you’re in Korea and are going to order something. Practice saying what you would order and the phrases you’d need to order it.
Repeat a word or phrase for 24 hours: Repetition is the best way to remember words and phrases, so choose a word or a phrase that you will repeat for the whole day. Say this word or phrase as often as possible, and set reminders for yourself. You can put a note next to your clock to remind you to say the phrase whenever you glance at it. You can also put the phrase on your phone or screen saver, so each time you look at your cell or computer, you’ll remember to say the phrase.
Change your technology settings. Why not make the language on your cell phone, tablet, or computer, Korean? It’s an easy way to expose yourself to the language – plus it’ll remind you to practice!
Korean presence or influence is strongly found in the Khitan language. Lesser-known Dravido-Korean languages theory, suggests Korean relationship with Dravidian languages in India. Some of the common features in the Korean and Dravidian languages are similar vocabulary. Korean has also been disputed to be related to Japanese due to some overlap in vocabulary and similar grammatical features that have been elaborated upon by few researchers. Korean definitely has similarity to Chinese restricted to the script only! That being said, the linguistic homeland of Korean is suggested to be somewhere in Manchuria.
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