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How can I learn Hangul?
December 5, 2012 1:15 AM   Subscribe

How can I learn Hangul (Korean alphabet)?

I live in Korea but have yet to learn Hangul. I want to change that. I generally suck at teaching myself things and do best with some kind of pre-made structure. I would take a class but I'm not located in Seoul and there seem to be few to no options where I am.

Is there some kind of course online (preferably free but I would pay) to learn Hangul? Something that takes you step-by-step? Everyone says Hangul is easy to learn but everytime I sit down to do it, it just seems too overwhelming and I can't do it, and this makes me feel dumb.
posted by Gorilla456 to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
You're Welcome.

(It's a really creative comic that teaches you Hangul.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:39 AM on December 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


You can use the Hangul course on memrise.com
posted by Winnemac at 1:41 AM on December 5, 2012


A place to hang out might be the Korean subReddit.
posted by THAT William Mize at 2:09 AM on December 5, 2012


It should take about an hour to learn the basics. Took me sth like 45 min on the plane. There are a few wrinkles, but it's a very well designed writing system that will quickly reward your effort.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:44 AM on December 5, 2012


Oh, and here's a good Quizlet set.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:45 AM on December 5, 2012


I don't think hangeul is really as easy to learn as some people claim, because many of the sounds of Korean either don't exist or aren't distinguished from other sounds in English, so if you want to learn to pronounce it in a way that Koreans will understand, you have to learn hangeul and Korean pronunciation at the same time. I don't think there is much point to associating English sounds with Korean 자모 jamo (roughly, letters) and then just having to learn the real sounds later.

I learned hangeul in the following way. I took individual videos on my computer of a Korean pronouncing every single jamo while holding up a piece of paper with that jamo written on it (for consonants, she pronounced the consonant plus ㅏ and that was what was written on the paper). Then I could use the videos to practice them while hearing the pronunciation and, crucially, looking and trying to replicate the shape and movement of her mouth and lips.

Now, this Korean was my girlfriend, so she was willing to spend a lot of time on boring tasks like this to help me learn some of her native language. I've never lived in Korea, but from what I've heard you should definitely be able to find a language exchange partner wherever you are there, and you can get your language exchange partner to do this with you. Or maybe you have Korean friends who can, but honestly outside of a lover an LE partner is your best bet, because after you've learned the basics of pronunciation, you can do other kinds of pronunciation practice with them (read sentences and they correct you, they say a word and you write it down in hangeul, etc.) and once you're confident on that score obviously also practice communicating in Korean.

Final suggestion, do not fuck around with transliteration until you've mastered hangeul, it's only going to confuse you.
posted by John Raskolnikov Gilson at 3:12 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


LingIntro. Nothing fancy, and not terribly professional, but if you work through the exercises, you can read Hangul. Starting page for Hangul.
posted by nangar at 3:46 AM on December 5, 2012


I think John is right -- you need to learn pronunciation together with the hangeul. I found the book "Sounds of Korean: A Pronunciation Guide" to be very useful. It's very thorough and has a ton of exercises, so if you work them all through it's almost impossible not to absorb it.
posted by yonglin at 6:47 AM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding LingIntro. It's interactive and makes you think and is, in my opinion, the best thing out there for learning hangeul.
posted by danceswithlight at 7:25 AM on December 5, 2012


One thing to be aware of is that consonants can change sound depending on what they're next to. 한류 looks like han-ryu, sounds like hal-yu, for instance. this has an introduction to hangul irregularities. You'll also see clusters of characters like 닭 where one of the end consonants is sometimes silent.
posted by stavrogin at 10:03 AM on December 5, 2012


I don't think hangeul is really as easy to learn as some people claim, because many of the sounds of Korean either don't exist or aren't distinguished from other sounds in English, so if you want to learn to pronounce it in a way that Koreans will understand, you have to learn hangeul and Korean pronunciation at the same time. I don't think there is much point to associating English sounds with Korean 자모 jamo (roughly, letters) and then just having to learn the real sounds later.

This depends on what the Gorilla456's goals are. If she simply needs to be able to read things (like I did when I was moving to Seoul 10 years ago and knew I'd soon be faced with mysterious menus, for example), you're dead wrong.

Of course if her goal is to speak Korean, as you seem to be assuming, then she should study Korean, and not just the alphabet. In which case her question is barking up the wrong saguaro, imo.

Learning the basic alphabet and moving on to the nuances and proper pronunciation later worked very well for me and I was survival functional in matters of bus maps, menus, and such immediately, with no more than about a 45-min. time outlay of studying. In fact, learning the alphabet well aided my later acquisition of pronunciation, intonation, and vocabulary tremendously.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:34 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Joseph Gurl, I agree with you that learning hangeul with English sounds isn't useless. My thinking was that since the asker has already been living in Korea for what sounds like a little while, and doesn't seem to have an urgent need to know how to read hangeul in his/her head NOW, if he/she would like eventually to be able to do anything more than read hangeul in his/her head -- order food in Korean aloud and be understood the first time, for example -- then learning real pronunciation along with hangeul would be more worthwhile. I don't think learning English-sound-based pronunciation (=very wrong pronunciation) first is a helpful foundation for learning comprehensible pronunciation later. BUT, of course, maybe comprehensible pronunciation isn't wanted, or maybe reading-in-head skills are wanted right away, so it's good there are other options like yours suggested in the thread.
posted by John Raskolnikov Gilson at 12:55 AM on December 6, 2012


I can't tell where you are from, but in case anyone from London wants to know, the Korean Cultural Center in central London offers free Korean classes. They are on different days depending on your level. My husband took them for about a year and he got pretty good.
posted by like_neon at 5:58 AM on December 6, 2012


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