Learning Korean in China

24 Jul 2006

Since I don’t have classes over the summer, I figured it was a good time to start learning something new. I started learning Korean. To fit Korean into my hectic schedule, I hired a Korean foreign student from ECNU to come to my apartment and tutor me once a week. Why Korean? Well, I have several reasons:

1. Korean looks cool. I’ve always liked it. I like the way it sounds, too (more than, say, that overrated language French).
2. Korean (mostly) uses a phonetic writing system. The last two languages I tackled seriously have been Japanese and Chinese, and let me tell you, I don’t have time for any more of this “memorizing thousands of characters” crap.
3. It would be great to have some ability in all three of the official languages of East Asia. With English and Spanish, I’ve already got most of North America, South America, Australia, and Europe covered.
4. Outside of Korea itself, China is a pretty good place to study Korean (see below).

Anyway, I have had three classes so far, and I’ve learned a few things:

Hiring a Korean tutor in China is not expensive. I already knew this was true for hiring Chinese tutors (whether for the Chinese language itself or for another subject such as math or piano). If you find a Chinese student tutor through ECNU’s activity center, you usually won’t pay more than 50 RMB per hour for any of the many subjects offered. The one-time processing fee is something like 100 RMB, but that allows you to get a new tutor if yours doesn’t work out, or to hire multiple tutors at no extra cost.

What I didn’t expect is that hiring a Korean exchange student is just as inexpensive. My tutor’s asking price was 50 RMB per hour. (I doubt a Japanese tutor’s hourly rate would be as low, but I don’t really know.)

My tutor’s teaching methodology is as unenlightened as typical Chinese pedagogy’s. When John B recently described his first few Japanese classes here in Shanghai, it sounded very familiar. My tutor, too, insisted on first teaching the entire character set, all its sounds, and even all its spelling conventions before teaching any significant actual language. I don’t think she would have even covered “hello” and “goodbye” in the first lesson if I hadn’t demanded it. I can’t agree with that approach. Like Ken Carroll, I believe that language should be communication-oriented from the beginning. My tutor’s reasoning seemed to be that I would want to write down all the new vocabulary and phrases that I learned, so I had to learn the entire writing system first. This brings me to my next point…

The reality of the Korean writing system (called Hangul) was very disappointing. It was disappointing because as a student of linguistics and Asian orthography, I’ve long heard about how great and scientific and near-perfect Hangul is. I guess I imagined it a little too perfect.

For one thing, I (foolishly?) thought Hangul would be totally phonetic or very nearly so. By this, I mean that words are always written exactly as they are pronounced and always pronounced exactly as they are written. Sadly, such is not the case. There are quite a few “spelling rules” and exceptions that must be memorized. This isn’t unreasonable for any language, as languages are living things and change much faster than writing systems, but I just expected more out of the one writing system that has earned so much linguistic acclaim.

Oh well, Hangul is still a lot easier to learn than Chinese characters. I am currently in the process of memorizing all those stupid spelling rules.

Korean pronunciation is hard. OK, this may seem obvious once again, but it’s been a long time since I started learning a totally new language, plus after getting a handle on the pronunciation of three very different languages, you expect fewer phonetic challenges. Guess what? It’s still hard. I find ㄹ, ㅈ, and ㅊ particularly frustrating, but they won’t elude me forever.

Korean Grammar doesn’t seem to map to Japanese grammar as well as I had hoped. Again, this is probably a silly expectation on my part, but I was thinking that if Japanese and Korean grammar are basically the same, I’d have a huge advantage in studying Korean, because I could basically just learn the pronunication and vocabulary and base all the grammar on Japanese’s. This will work to some extent (I’ve learned the Korean equivalents of Japanese’s particles wa and ni, for example, and word order does seem the same so far), but Korean appears more complex. Using different particles depending on whether the preceeding word ended in a vowel or a consonant?? Excuse me? What is this, French? There’s none of that particular nonsense in Japanese.

If anyone knows of any good, practical online resources for learning Korean grammar in reference to Japanese grammar, please let me know. If there’s nothing good out there in English, I will probably make it myself eventually.

The best Japanese resources for Korean I’ve discovered so far are:

1. 韓国語1年生. Quite extensive! It uses Hangul on the page, which is good.
2. Taamchai : Korean Grammar. You may have to manually switch to Shift_JIS encoding for this one, but the grammar charts it provides are exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Too bad it doesn’t use Hangul.
3. 文法編 目次 – その2の韓国語講座. Some useful stuff, with Hangul again.


Related:

John B on learning Japanese in China
Ken Carroll on John B on learning Japanese in China
Muninn: the blog of a scholarly guy living in Korea after learning Chinese and Japanese
Hangul Wikipedia entry
Hangul online Flash tutorial (it’s very buggy, but still useful)
Korean Alphabet Tutorial
Let’s Learn Korean: a blog for now, but soon a podcast as well

Share

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. It seems fitting that I should have first crack at this post!

    There are quite a few “spelling rules” and exceptions that must be memorized.

    I know it’s been a lo-o-o-ng time since I took Korean 101, but I don’t think there are that many rules. In the program I studied, the rules were covered in the first ten weeks of class. The exceptions that need to be memorized are tensification – ex: “galddong” (trouble) “yeoggeon” (passport); and recent pronunciation changes in South Korean Korean that are not reflected in spelling

    I find ㄹ, ㅈ, and ㅊ particularly frustrating, but they won’t elude me forever

    Using different particles depending on whether the preceeding word ended in a vowel or a consonant??

  2. Oops, I accidentally sent that post before it was finished.

    Keep in mind, John, that Hangeul is 600 years old. Think of how American English has changed in 400 years. There are even some letters in the original alphabet that have been discarded since they are no longer used. I do agree that Koreans revere their alphabet like it’s the Bible, and such reverence is not justified. The spelling system is not infallible, as you are learning.

    I find ㄹ, ㅈ, and ㅊ particularly frustrating, but they won’t elude me forever

    ㄹ continues to elude me when it’s a patchim (final sound). It’s the only sound I still have trouble with and if I say a word with that sound out of context, Koreans will sometimes have difficulty understanding me. .

    Using different particles depending on whether the preceeding word ended in a vowel or a consonant??

    It’s only the subject particle that’s totally different. The others differ only in that they insert an initial consonant sound between the two vowel sounds.

    Wait’ll you get to conjunctive endings. Conjunctions can be grouped semantically, like English, but not grammatically. There is no single group of subordinating conjunctions that follows the same grammar pattern. You have to memorize how to attach the adjective/verb to the conjunction.

  3. Korean cool? It sound like the noise of dove birds to me.

  4. Jason S Says: July 24, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve always wanted to study Korean for many of the same reasons. Hopefully Korean pod will bypass some of the difficulties you encountered with your tutor.

  5. Sonagi,

    Thanks for the feedback. Down the road I may end up asking you a question or two by e-mail.

    I agree that the spelling conventions/exceptions are not so many, especially compared to English. But they’re a lot when you’re expecting practically none! Also, the rules you covered in 10 weeks were covered in three two-hour sessions for me.

  6. Da Xiangchang Says: July 24, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Whoa! A 5th language! I’m very impressed. I think the next 2 languages you should study–and I’m not being facetious here–are Arabic (we’ll be fighting those bastards till I’m an old man) and Thai (cuz it’s truly paradise down there for foreign guys). I guess German and Italian might be good too cuz there’s so much culture there. French might be overrated, but I got to admit, they have a lot of awesome culture there, what with all the Louies and their chateaux, etc. I mean, how can you see “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and not want to learn that language?!!

  7. If you want a perfectly phonetical alphabet, you should study Georgian: http://www.armazi.com/georgian/

  8. “With English and Spanish, I’ve already got most of […] Europe covered.”

    Please define “Europe”.

  9. Tuur,

    Heh, I wondered who was going to call me on that.

    I’m referring mainly to the parts of the continent where either Spanish or English is spoken widely (as either a first or a second language), of course. 🙂

  10. I’ll be interested to hear of your continued progress in learning Korean.

  11. haha, Tuur was not pleased since he is from Belgium. 😛

    i like Korean as well, coz Korean writing looks kinda cute… but does it sound cool? its ok for a man. but when girls are talking in Korean, i always think they were arguing or quarrelling with someone…:S
    i think Italian sounds more beautiful, for all the Italian words are end with vowels. ^^

  12. John, a few questions if I may:

    1. How much would you be paying your Korean Student slash Tutor?
    2. How much would should one pay for an ECNU Chinese student for a 100% Mandarin Tutoring (no need for English godforbid)?
    3. How on earth do you manage to maintain more than two lanaguages without forgetting all the vocabulary?

    xiexiemasss la.

  13. Jockster Says: July 24, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    Why not take up Finnish instead? In Finnish, words are written exactly as they are pronounced and always pronounced exactly as they are written. Plus it’s got 15 grammatical cases and you’d probably find the pronunciation frustrating, too. Hey, learning that should keep you entertained well into the next decade and then some. Of course, the only downside is that there’s very little practical benefits from it…after all it’s a peripheral European country of some 5 million people.

    All in jest.

  14. I studied Korean here in Qingdao, from a Chao Xian zu Korean teacher. He was pretty funny and lively. I paid him 25rmb per hour, I told him I only wanted to learn the dialect used in South Korea, although I would be interested in learning some of the Korean used within China. The biggest difference seemed to be loan words from English – the South Koreans absorbed lots of English from the American presance, thus they say Television, Ice Cream, Radio, Handphone (cellphone) etc etc. The Chinese Koreans use Chinese, or Chinese translated literally into Korean.

    I work in a Korean company, so I get to listen to Korean a lot, my speaking is still limited but my understanding is getting better and better. Im starting to understand when my cranky Korean (female) boss is giving me a critising. My English is suffering terribly between my Chinese home and Korean workplace.

    I think ill become a language rapist and only talk to lao wai for the whole summer.

  15. I have been keeping an idea in my mind that there are only 2 charaters (or exactly~~2 shapes)in Korean:O and |
    😛

  16. My parents tell me that Gujarati is completely phonetic. Unfortunately I don’t know how to write in Gujarati. I’ve been considering learning it. As I already know the spoken language (though have slowly lost my ability to speak it over the years), it would cool to know the written language as well. If it truly is completely phonetic, it shouldn’t be too hard for me.

  17. Im starting to understand when my cranky Korean (female) boss is giving me a critising

    Why did you mention her gender?

  18. John, would you say that Korean is less phonetic than Japanese (kana)?

  19. wukaiyuan Says: July 25, 2006 at 4:51 am

    I’ve done the opposite and gone from learning Chinese to Korean and now to Japanese. Experiencing much of the same frustration in terms of things not mapping over as well as I thought. One good thing is 60% of Korean vocab is the Korean pronunciation of Chinese words 문화 (moon-hwa) for 文化 etc. If you learn this kind of translation (helpful for dialects too) you can get a lot of mileage out there. IMO it’s easier than the equivalent Chinese-borrowed words in Japanese.

    Personally I tried tons of books and resources as Korean isn’t the most popular language here in the US, but the one that REALLY taught me something was Elementary Korean by Ross King and Jaehoon Yeon. The explanations make sense, the progression is logical and useful, and the exercises are things that you can do easily and have value. It was a long slog for me but I’m sure you’ll do fine.

  20. Moose,

    1. A little more than 50 rmb/hour. She lives far away.

    2. Since I’m a student at ECNU, I got the student rate for tutoring, which is 40 rmb/hour in this case. My tutor never uses English.

    3. I don’t know. I do forget a lot, but just keep going anyhow…

  21. Mark,

    Yes, definitely.

  22. […] Meanwhile, John Pasden is learning Korean! Just like that! […]

  23. How about learning Klingon? It’s the first 100% imaginary language. Plus you can use it to pick up chicks at Star Trek conventions.

  24. That’s really a bummer. I’d had my hopes up that there was an Asian language like Japanese without the Kanji. That would have been perfect for me after beating my head on Chinese and Japanese for so long.

  25. Jeff:

    the problem is chicks don’t go to Star Trek conventions.

  26. Funny, when I am wondering on the web for a effective way to improve my spoken English, then I saw a batch of English speaking people are wading in the korean or chinese study.

    Small world and similar work:)

    Languege is commute-oriented, I totallyl agree, so communicate with a native speaker–not a scholastic nonative teacher, it works faster and better.

    Use the advantage of international metropolis like Shanghai, U will get more.

  27. No, chicks do go to Star Trek conventions. But you wouldn’t want to pick them up anyway…

  28. Da Xiangchang Says: July 26, 2006 at 6:25 am

    Dude, the language for Star Trek conventions is Esperanto, not Klingon, cuz Wiliam Shatner speaks it and if you impress Captain Kirk, he might give you a 3D chess set like the one he and Spock played with in episode 734 of the original series. Who needs chicks?

  29. Cool, John.

  30. This is a helpful website I encountered when I was learning some basic Korean a few years ago.

  31. […] John at Sinosplice takes a stab at learning Korean. Couldn’t help but comment: My tutor, too, insisted on first teaching the entire character set, all its sounds, and even all its spelling conventions before teaching any significant actual language. I don’t think she would have even covered “hello” and “goodbye” in the first lesson if I hadn’t demanded it. I can’t agree with that approach.” […]

  32. Let’s see. English, Spainish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese…am I fogetting any? Five more, and I’m putting you down here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listofnoted_polyglots

  33. My tutor’s teaching methodology is as unenlightened as typical Chinese pedagogy’s. When John B recently described his first few Japanese classes here in Shanghai, it sounded very familiar. My tutor, too, insisted on first teaching the entire character set, all its sounds, and even all its spelling conventions before teaching any significant actual language. I don’t think she would have even covered “hello” and “goodbye” in the first lesson if I hadn’t demanded it. I can’t agree with that approach. Like Ken Carroll, I believe that language should be communication-oriented from the beginning. My tutor’s reasoning seemed to be that I would want to write down all the new vocabulary and phrases that I learned, so I had to learn the entire writing system first.

    John, I could not disagree with you more on this! I learned Korean as a third language (after learning Japanese), and getting the Hangul writing and pronuniciation down first is absolutely essential to learning the language. Unlike Japanese, you cannot get by without learning the writing systems, and in order to pronounce correctly from the start, you need to be able to read and pronounce correctly.

    Korean Grammar doesn’t seem to map to Japanese grammar as well as I had hoped.

    Yes, there are some differences, especially in the use of particles and passive verbs. Passive verbs in Japanese are a simple matter, but in Korean they are difficult or requires a long sentence construction to spell out who is doing what to who.

  34. If anyone knows of any good, practical online resources for learning Korean grammar in reference to Japanese grammar, please let me know. If there’s nothing good out there in English, I will probably make it myself eventually.

    I dont know how practical it is, but 前田先生 site has a lot of stuff for the Korean language, including a Japanese/Korean proverbs comparison that spells out what remains the same, and what is different, focusing on 4 character proverbs. He also explains which words students of Korean often mispronounce.

    If you are willing to spend a little bit of money, マンガで韓国語がしゃべれる introduces Korean grammar through Japanese in manga form. In can get you into Korean grammar until you are ready to work on your own.

    Turbo Club translates Korean songs to Japanese, and has the Japanese text and Korean text side by side. Great for learning idiomatic Korean.

    Sogang university offers a free course online for Korean up to intermediate level.

    I dont think you are really going to find what you are looking for online though. You will have to buy some books for that. By the way, I also learned Korean through Japanese.

  35. […] Here’s a marvelous essay from the LA Times about pronouns, actually, about a pronoun – ‘you’. It’s written by a Korean American who explains how Korean is actually more complex, when it comes to honorifics, than even Japanese is. Korean is not an easy language to learn. John Pasden has his work cut out for him. […]

  36. You mention Japanese resources to learn Korean. But, is there any good book for teaching Korean to Chinese? Of course, the best would be a book in English which uses Chinese to teach Korean.

  37. It’s great to see another Korean language learner, especially one already successful at other languages.

    The Korean Podcast is still underdevelopment, but things are going a little slower than expected. Keep watching 한국어 연습장 for details.

  38. Of course, the best would be a book in English which uses Chinese to teach Korean.

    What does this mean?

  39. びっくり!
    I’ve somehow found my way here from the chinesepod site. Nice work! I remember being mesmerised when visiting the chinesepod studios: all these 汉字everywhere and a tall 老外 dutifully copying out hangeul. Only when he spoke did I recognise who he was.
    I guess with 日本语,and 中文,the next logical step is Korean. Good luck, and keep me posted!

  40. John, an interesting question is the relative difficulty of Chinese and Korean for a native speaker of English. It might seem that Chinese should be more difficult owing to characters and tones but many say that the Korean pronunciation, although with no tones or characters (occasional use of Hanja aside), is very difficult and the grammar awkward so that it is more difficult than Chinese. You know the Defense Language Institute at Monterrey has ranked languages into several groups based on the number of hours teaching a native speaker of English usually needs to get to a certain level. A Level 1 language would be something like Swedish or Spanish;a Level 2 language German or Romanian; a Level 3 language, Russian. The Level 4 languages are Arabic, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. See this site. But apparently it takes slightly longer to reach the same competency in Korean than the other Level 4 languages and so there is the suggestion that Korean become uniquely a Level 5 language. (See this site.) A page listing lots of languages with the Monterey categorization is here. Obviously this sort of thing depends on what language you are starting from. A Chinese friend of mine believes that Japanese is one of the easiest languages for Chinese to master (odd: I thought it would be Vietnamese).

  41. DJW,

    That’s interesting; I didn’t realize Korean was considered so difficult. I’ll be sure to do a comparison down the road. Having learned Chinese and Japanese first, though, I have a huge advantage over the average beginner.

  42. I’ve noticed that a few people on this thread have at least some knowledge of two or more East Asian languages. Thus, this question is geared towards you folks. Which language do think is the easiest? The hardest? Granted, I realize answers will differ based on many factors, such as one’s native language, methodology, order of learning, etc. Nonetheless, I am curious about the differences in difficulty among the big three (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean). As someone, who has a pretty solid base in Japanese (I plan to take level one of the JLPT within the next year), I was thinking about starting Korean since everyone tells me that a knowledge of Japanese grammar is a plus. However, Chinese seems more practical. I am sort of torn and thus I’m trying to research the difficulty of each for a native English speaker.

  43. Rex,

    Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. You can’t learn all of them without having knowledge of the others, even if you learn all three simultaneously. That means that the observations of anyone who has learned all three will be biased due to prior knowledge of the others and the order in which they were acquired.

    So to you, the most relevant question is really, “how easy is it for a native speaker of English to learn Chinese and/or Korean after having learned Japanese?”

    I have only just begun learning Korean, so I can’t tell you much about that. So far it seems like there is lots of similarity in word order, particles, copula, verb conjugation, honorifics, etc., but in pretty much every case Korean turns out to be more complex than Japanese, doing things like having two versions of a particle, and the particle you use is determined by the final sound of the word preceding it (consonant or vowel). Still, at least the writing system is fairly easy.

    When you learn Chinese, Japanese grammar and pronunciation don’t help you much, but the background in characters is a huge plus. Not having to learn all about stroke order, radicals, etc. from scratch is great because it means you can concentrate on other problem areas such as TONES.

    This is a topic I’d like to address more in the future, after I’ve learned more Korean. I’ll come back to this.

  44. I just started learning Korean by book recently, after I took a few Korean courses a few months ago (I had to drop the class because of other school related stuff).

    I remember being a little disappointed when the very first thing my Korean class taught me was Hangul. Learning a new writing system is always repetitive and tedious, but because it was a pretty logical writing system, I learned it quickly. Now, I am really happy we tackled it first before learning actual phrases, as romanizations tend to be inconsistent, and you really should avoid relying on them. Can you imagine reading romanizations for a couple of weeks and then being forced to read in hangul what you had just gotten used to reading in romanizations? That’s just frustrating!

    Reading this new Korean language book I bought (called Elementary Korean, which is very detailed and free of pictures and fluff), I really had a sense that I was at an advantage knowing how to learn the Hangul on the pages right from the first chapter.

    Good luck on your learning! I also started learning Mandarin last month, which is quite a different experience. At least there’s no chance of me mixing the two languages up, right? 🙂

  45. Why shouldn’t you mix up chinese and korean? I studied Chinese and Russian for my first degree, and frequently annoyed the Russian oral teacher by unconsciously speaking in a mixture of Chinese and Russian…

  46. I really would love to start learning Korean , but i dont know the way to do it since iam a laowai whos living in shanghai and very busy with his job ,and feel Frustrated when i think its going to take me as long as the chinese language did .

  47. Stephen Says: May 4, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    A question very dear to my heart. I just stumbled upon this page now, a bit late (as a result, John, of a Google search for your name and Korean, since I was curious to hear your thoughts on learning the language–and, btw, let me start off by saying I’m mightily impressed by your Chinese, and adore Chinesepod):

    Anyway, I think you’re absolutely right to say that you can’t learn all these languages without knowledge of another and that makes it harder to decide upon the relative difficulty. So, just to put my comments in context: I started studying Chinese first in 1980 but only did a semester in college and just came back for dribs and drabs for several years, but have put a fair amount of effort in in the last 5-10 years; I’ve been working on Korean very steadily since 1987, and have spent a total of 5 years living in Korea at various points; and I started studying Japanese only in 2001, after a fair amount of both Ch. and Kor. I’d characterize myself as advanced in Korean, upper intermediate in Chinese and low intermediate in Japanese.

    Overall, I do think that Korean is the most difficult of the three for a native speaker of English, but another important issue here, which people haven’t really addressed above is a marked difference between the languages in terms of the four main language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing).

    What makes Korean so damn difficult, I think, is listening comprehension–as noted above, pronunciation is difficult (much the hardest of the three) and there are narrow distinctions between several sounds. I regulary note native speakers having to go over some items that can’t be known from context (e.g. hearing personal or place names for the first time) closely with one another, more so than in other languages I’ve studied. Japanese is very straightforward in terms of pronunciation and I usually feel that even if I don’t understand what is being said, I could at least transcribe it. What leaves Japanese very difficult, as with Korean, is a high degree of syntactic and grammatical comeplexity. Although Chinese has a few tricky pronunciation issues (ch/j; sh/x) and there is a little issue called tones to deal with, I find it the easiest of the three as far as listening comprehension is concerned, largely b/c of the syntactic similarity (or at least word order) to English. Put another way: listening to Chinese doesn’t make my brain hurt in the same way as the other two do.

    Speaking: similarly, if you’re not overly hung up on getting all your tones right, and just want to be understood by the person you’re speaking to, I also find Chinese much the easiest to produce. You may sound like an idiot when you get your tones wrong, but I find that people usually have enough contextual clues to figure out what you’re saying. I still, after all these years, can find myself trapped in a syntactic dead end in Korean when I’ve tried to render a complex thought, and it can be the case that if you don’t get your pronunciation right people don’t understand you.

    Reading: Korean at one level is the easiest for this skill–at least on the basis of hangeul itself. I maintain that I can teach most people to pronounce it fairly well after two hours (even if they have no clue what they’re reading). In reading texts you still have issues of a huge vocabulary, similar to Japanese, but at least in contemporary writing you don’t have all the difficulties that needing to learn characters entails. I have a friend with excellent Korean and Japanese and he says that after a certain point he found he was able to read Japanese faster than Korean precisely b/c of the kanji as there gets to be immediate recognition for the key content elements and less subvocalization necessary.

    Writing: well, Chinese is much the hardest if you are writing things out by hand and want to get your characters right, but thanks to the magic of computers and pinyin, it’s now become lots easier to produce a correct text…I actually don’t worry very much about writing as a skill in language learning, b/c even though it’s great for refining your sense of nuance, I at least (and I’m speaking as an academic even) don’t really need to use it all that much, whereas the other three skills are constant. And learning to write well is by far the most time-consuming…..

    Btw, on the mapping of Japanese to Korean and vice-versa: I actually found it an enormous advantage to learn Japanese via Korean. I used a Korean language textbook and found that it became pretty much a matter of vocabulary substitution in producing Japanese sentences, and I loved being able to make very satisfactory guesses at more difficult words on the basis of my knowledge of Korean. Sure, there are minor differences between the two languages (and Japanese honorifics are more complex, and the distinctions made with verbs of receiving and not just giving are really hard), but overall it was a great boon.

    I’ve got lots more to say but just one other observation now: it can be hard to see how kanji pronunciations match to Mandarin, but Korean really helps a lot with seeing how they all fit together–sort of the missing link. Just put the numbers from 1-10 side by side (using Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese readings) and you’ll begin to see what I mean, I think.

    Stephen

  48. You are entirely wrong about your tutors method of teaching. Romanizing Korean is entirely different than pinyin. If you only romanize Korean you will NEVER pronounce the words correctly. Also, you can learn the whole letter set in like a day, and have a good handle on it in a week. You absoutly need this to learn Korean. “My tutor’s reasoning seemed to be that I would want to write down all the new vocabulary and phrases that I learned, so I had to learn the entire writing system first.” Your tutor was actually helping you to pronounce your new vocab correctly. Anyways, I will be starting Chinese this semester at school (too bad I couldnt study in China with you guys) but I did study Korean in Korea so Im not just talking out of my arse. Good luck in your studies and I’ll probably be back since this seems like a good site.

  49. I’m also a Mandarin-speaking American who’s studying Korean, although I work for a Korean company here in the U.S. now.
    I found this very helpful .pdf file on Korean grammar via Google: http://www.ethelthefrog.net/sa/Grammar.pdf
    It’s basically an entire grammar textbook, very good to have as a reference. It might be a copyright violation, but I guess since I’m only linking to it, not hosting it, i’m probably not liable…

  50. John, I’m late to this party, but I thought I’d chime in. I’m coming to Praxis in October to help out with SpanishSense. Let me know when you’re ready to do Tagalog: the verb grammar is focus-oriented, and the writing is roman and (almost) perfectly phonemic.

    My biggest problem with my past Tagalog teachers is that they won’t stop speaking English! Ayna!

  51. I am brand new to Asian languages, though I know Italian, French and German. I plan to start with Korean since my husband works in animation. My question is, which should I do next? Chinese or Japanese? Would it be too confusing to do one of them at the same time as Korean.
    Thanks for the help!

  52. Half south america, the other half doesn’t speak spanish but portuguese…

  53. Wow, it’s been a while since this post!

    Since reading this, I’ve started learning Korean too. I’m finding the same stumbling blocks that John has.

    I can’t stand how every Chinese textbook devotes the first half to the Hangul writing system.

    If anyone knows of any good, practical online resources for learning Korean grammar in reference to Japanese grammar, please let me know. If there’s nothing good out there in English, I will probably make it myself eventually.

    Try . It’s an educational podcast, a teaching method close to John씨’s heart I’m sure.

    Linda, I think if you’ve “done” Italian, French and German already, you should try Chinese and Japanese at the same time.

  54. “Using different particles depending on whether the preceeding word ended in a vowel or a consonant?? Excuse me? What is this, French? There’s none of that particular nonsense in Japanese.”

    As an [unwilling] 6-year student of French, this made me giggle so hard. One of the great things about my Chinese studies so far is that there’s not as many freaking rules.

  55. Hi,
    I already speak Korean and want to continue studying when I get to China next year.
    Does anyone know of a good Korean language school in Beijing or Shanghai?

    Also on that note, can anyone recommend the best Chinese language school?

  56. hey claire i suppose i could help you if you have such interest in korean… i taught myself and successfully passed the test of profeciency in korea higher only one yr after i started learning korean of course i m good at speaking english i hope i could help you ^_^ you can reach me by sending pangzihenzhen@hotmail.com

  57. ookaminote Says: April 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hi John, I’ts been a while you first posted this, how’s your Korean now?
    Thank you so much for the sites you gave in Japanese they’re really helpful.
    As a French native speaker, i find myself having to learn Korean liaisons and i finally have a feeling of what learners of French must feel at the beginning of their studies…it sucks.
    I learned Japanese first then Chinese and I’m starting Korean now, (same order as you i believe) I think it makes a lot of sense to learn Korean grammar from Japanese sources, the explanations and notes can be summarized much more efficiently in Japanese because of all the similarities.

    Very soon when i study a language i just start reading about what i like, and i take notes of all the vocab items i encounter – at first i need a base language but I try to use a monolingual dictionary as soon as possible, I’m not there yet for Korean but i realised recently that I keep changing the base language.
    Any way i’m not sure how much helpful this can be, but i feel i understand the word really once i’ve compared the Japanese translation and the Chinese translation (and it’s a good way to keep everything together)
    i use http://kr.dic.yahoo.com/search/eng/ (for English)
    http://kr.dic.yahoo.com/search/jpn/ (for Japanese – but i’m sure there’s better)
    and http://kr.dic.yahoo.com/search/jpn/ (and for Chinese)

  58. midnalovescheese Says: September 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    John,

    Good luck on learning Korean, but I guess from your other post that:

    a) I am quite substantially late, and new, to this party and
    b) You’ve stopped?

    WHY?

    I think Korean is the most beautiful language in the history of beautiful languages in the sense that whatever you say in Korean, it always sounds a tad rude.

    But anyway. I’m a high-school student living in China as well, and I’m curious as to where I can maybe find a decent Korean tutor (teaching me through English or Chinese) or a Korean classroom. I’ve tried self-study, but it. Does. Not. Work. (For me at least.)

    I do have motivation to learn and opportunity to practice; the high school I go to is (not to be racist or anything) stuffed with so many Koreans everywhere. They say this: you hear three languages in the hallways at all times: English, Chinese and Korean.

    I have Korean friends, I want to go to Korea (again), and most of all I want to speak it and know it and BE as KOREAN AS POSSIBLE!

    (burning with rage and determination)

    Except I still don’t know where to find a Korean tutor/class.

    Help?!

  59. I’ve been learning Korean for over two years in Shanghai. There is a community driven language school which is really awesome. This is their website: cafe.daum.net/hangeulhacdang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *