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July 9, 2009 / owbEe

Tips on learning Hangeul

I have received several comments by readers who have just started learning Hangeul. Julia and Galinaros shared some of their thoughts and I would like to post a respond to keep them motivated to study Korean. Here are some of my tips:

1. Have a Hangeul table or chart at hand. You can either print a copy of the Hangeul characters or try to write them down. Writing them will enhance your Korean writing skills and will help you recognize each of the characters. It also helped me distinguish the differences of each character.

Here’s the basic Hangeul characters which I got from Life In Korea:

Credits to Life In Korea

Credits to Life In Korea

2. Read the history behind the characters. In this way you can learn to appreciate the symbols you are about to learn. I suggest you visit this site to learn about the History of Hangeul.

King Sejong, the 4th ruler of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), set up a special committee of scholars in 1443 to create a new writing system specifically suited to the Korean language.

The alphabet has 10 vowels and 14 consonants. The consonants represent the simplified outlines of the parts of the mouth and tongue used to pronounce them. The vowels are associated with elements of the philosophy of the Book of Changes.

3. Be confident and practice, practice and practice some more. While I was learning Hangeul, I had a hard time recognizing the characters. I sometimes interchange one from the other. And it really frustrates me when I know I have this certain character in my head but I just can’t get it out. It’s just normal to feel that way. You just need to encourage yourself that you can definitely learn those 24 characters. You memorized the English alphabet, why give up with this one, right?

The steps that I enumerated are just ways to prepare you to learn the characters. In order to master the Korean writing system, you need to have self determination and discover ways to associate the letters to things around you. Good luck! I know you can do it!

Anyway, I also compiled this list of sites where you can practice learning Hangeul. This is just a very short list; there’s still a vast list of sites out there. But I guess you don’t need all of that.

Indiana University’s Korean Alphabet – I really like this site. Here, you can learn the correct pronunciation of each character while learning Hangeul. They also have sample words for you to practice recognizing the characters. There’s also a male and female voice recorded for each word. This would be a great site to practice your recognition skills and also widens your vocabulary.

Click Korean – I must say that this site is one of the best sites I have seen. One of my goals is to finish the 20 lessons in it. The animation is really good and you won’t get bored while studying. The first two lessons include the Hangeul characters. You can view the list of their lessons here or you can visit SNU’s homepage here.

Aeria Gloris Learn Korean – This site is great if you want to practice Hangeul. You can either study the basic set, full set or the vowels only. You can also adjust the number of choices depending on your needs

Good luck guys! I know you can do it!

아자 아자! 화이팅!

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50 Comments

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  1. Rob / Jul 9 2009 12:24 pm

    I agree, I think the most important thing you can do first to learn Korean is to learn how to read and write. I personally don’t worry about the history of the letters ’cause I find that kind of stuff takes the energy that I’d rather just put into learning how to actually use them, but that’s just me. I’ve never really been much of a history buff!

    Anyways, I’m 2/3 the way through uploading my vids teaching, in plain English, how to read and write Korean.

    You can get there by going to http://www.learnkoreanonline.net/learn-to-read-and-write-korean-now

    owbEe, I hope you don’t me leaving my link like this. If you do, send me a message and it won’t happen again.

    Cheers everyone!

    Rob..

    • owbEe / Jul 9 2009 12:52 pm

      I’m not a history buff too. I hate history. But when I read how Hangeul was made, I got impressed. It made me more interested in the language. Maybe it just depends on the person. Some tips would work while others won’t. So yeah.

      Don’t worry about the links, it’s okay. Just don’t bombard me with tons of links, wordpress might consider it as spam or something. 😉

      Anyway, I checked one of your lessons and I have a short question. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

  2. Galinaros / Jul 9 2009 12:59 pm

    Thanks for this post. 🙂
    In my search for materials to teach myself Korean with, I came across many brief histories of how and why the Hangul alphabet was created. Some of them attributed its creation directly to King Sejong. O.O

    I believe it is best to learn the letters using something that can say the sounds for you, so that you may repeat them afterward to test your accuracy. I also believe it is important that students learn the Romanization of the letters, so that when you see a Korean name written with the Latin alphabet you can pronounce it correctly.

    Useful materials I have found are listed below:
    Romanized Alphabet ‘Diagram’ – http://thinkzone.wlonk.com/Language/Korean.htm
    Pronunciation (sounds) – http://www.360korea.com/2009/04/korean-lession-1.html

    With the above materials I have taught myself the following letters, and am continuing to learn more each day:
    ㅁ ㄴ ㅇ ㄹ ㅎ ㅗ ㅓ ㅏ ㅣ ㅡ ㅜ ㅠ ㄱ ㄲ ㅛ ㅕ ㅑ

    I hope that my contribution is of assistance. Good luck!

    Galinaros

    • Galinaros / Jul 9 2009 1:06 pm

      Oh… I started writing that before anyone posted. I’m sorry about the links! 😦

    • owbEe / Jul 9 2009 5:37 pm

      Thanks for sharing those links. ^^

    • Matthias / Aug 19 2010 3:29 pm

      Well…,I’m learning them too,I just know how the vowels sound like.

  3. Nicholas Cripps / Jul 10 2009 8:37 am

    My 2 cents…
    I actually started Hangul on an impulse around 6 years. I looked for a website that taught Hangul then tried to memorize them. Basically what I did was take a piece of paper, fold it in half vertically and then write the hangul on the left and the romanization on the right. The vowels were easy because basically most of them are an ㅏ facing up, right, left and down. I was able to learn each individual sound in 2 hours! Then to practice putting them together into actual syllable blocks I copied lyrics of my favorite Korean songs while looking at the romanization. If you search the web there are tons of websites where you can see lyrics of songs in both hangul and in roman script.

    • owbEe / Jul 10 2009 10:50 am

      Hey Nick! Kababayan!

      Yeah I totally agree. I forgot to mention those things. I think copying lyrics would be included in Tip #3. 🙂 I also did copy several songs to practice my writing. I can say that I have a decent Korean hand writing now compared to before because of that. LOL.

    • Galinaros / Jul 10 2009 11:49 am

      That sounds like a good idea, but my first problem with that is finding some Korean songs. 😉
      If you have any suggestions about some music, my tastes are mostly things that are not Pop / Rap. 😀 I have one song that I have taken a liking to, which is Kiss – Because I’m A Girl. (Just look it up on YouTube if you’re interested). I’ll try out your suggestion with that song tonight, and I think I may give a shot at the ‘folding a paper in half’ method tonight, too.

      The second problem is that the Romanization of Hangeul has a rather bad representation of their actual sounds. :/ But I’ll make the best of it.

      Thank you for sharing that, it looks like it could work for me. 🙂

      -Galinaros

    • owbEe / Jul 10 2009 12:24 pm

      Do you like love songs? I have a list of songs to share if you do. ^^

      About the genre. I don’t like rap before but when my sister introduced me to Epik High, I got hooked. I even memorized one of their songs. 1 분 1 초 (1 minute, 1 second). Here’s a link if you wanna hear it:

      I really love this song. I love the beat. I love the lyrics. I basically LOVE Epik High.

      Wow! I think I should post something about Korean music. 🙂

    • Galinaros / Jul 10 2009 12:36 pm

      Yes, love songs are nice. 😉
      I’ll listen to that song after I’m finished with lunch (hahaha, Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, pancakes were for breakfast. I must be some talented culinary artist >.< ).

      Share whatever you've got. I'll pick out some things. 🙂 (Oh yes, I looked immediately for another post when you said you should post about it. Hehe)

      -Galinaros

  4. owbEe / Jul 10 2009 12:58 pm

    From where are you Galinaros? I think we’re in the same timezone. ^^

    The post regarding Korean music will be in the near future, I guess. I don’t have much thought on it right now. ^^ But I will certainly post something about it.

    • Galinaros / Jul 10 2009 2:19 pm

      U.S. East Coast, Pennsylvania 😉 How about you?

      And I’ll look forward to your post!

      -Galinaros

    • owbEe / Jul 10 2009 2:28 pm

      California 🙂 3 hours difference. ^^

  5. JL / Jul 14 2009 8:24 am

    Just like to add, actually it is very easy to learn Hangul, at least for me. It’s even easier than ABCs. There is certainly some truth to the scientific nature of Hangul. 🙂

    • owbEe / Jul 14 2009 10:02 am

      Yeah, I totally agree. ^^

    • Galinaros / Jul 14 2009 4:30 pm

      I, too, agree with you completely. I think that one of the best features is adding the small line to (most) of the vowels to give them a “y” sound. I’m sure you already know this, but just as an example: ㅏ (a) -> ㅑ (ya)
      It makes learning it so simple…
      Also, I did a little bit of reading. Korea has a very, very low illiteracy rate, and children entering school often already have a full understanding of the Hangeul alphabet. Entering! Ugh… In the U.S., you finally finish with the alphabet in the early part of first grade (if I’m wrong, it’s because first grade was wayyyy back. Or because I’m a crappy student 😀 ). And I hear from my mom, who is a nurse, get a large number of patients that cannot read or write. :/

      Anyhow, my main problem with learning Hangeul is finding some time to sit down with it. When I usually get to it, it’s already close to 2 am. I have a feeling that I would have already finished with it if I designated a decent amount of time for it each day.
      But that’s my problem. 😀

      -Galinaros

  6. cheanrah / Jul 16 2009 1:52 am

    owbee! great job!… this is what i really need now.. this would definitely help me learn korean more!!! thanks for posting this up! i hope to see more of your korean post!!! ^^

    • owbEe / Jul 16 2009 1:57 am

      Hi cheanrah!

      Thanks. I’ll try my best to post more next time. ^^

  7. Victoria Rose / Jul 31 2009 4:12 pm

    Thank you for this resource.

    • owbEe / Jul 31 2009 6:30 pm

      You’re welcome Victoria Rose. ^^

  8. yudhaindrawan / Nov 28 2009 5:32 am

    Wow, thanks for this article. Currently, i learn hangeul too. I have a problem to pronounce some vowels such as (eo) and (o). he.he.he..

    • owbEe / Nov 29 2009 2:24 am

      Hi yudhaindrawan. 🙂

      You’re welcome.

  9. Steven J Weller / Dec 4 2009 4:54 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I also believe writing and reading are the quickest ways to learn a language. And this entire thread has given me many useful ideas. Keep up the good work!
    감사합거다

    • owbEe / Dec 4 2009 5:40 pm

      You’re welcome Steven. 🙂

  10. Steven J Weller / Dec 4 2009 4:57 pm

    oops! 감사합기다!

    • owbEe / Dec 4 2009 5:42 pm

      Actually is should be 감사합니다. You can also say 고맙습니다 or 고마워. 😀

  11. Korean Student / Dec 14 2009 12:29 am

    Woooooooooow! 정말 놀라워요♥ It’s not very hard for learning! I’m glad to see this web site!
    열심히 배우시고 아름다운 한국어, 자주 사용하세요!! ㅋㅋㅋ

    • owbEe / Dec 14 2009 8:53 pm

      Hi Korean Student. 🙂

      Thanks. I’m not sure if I understood your message completely but I’ll try my best to use and learn Korean. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting. 😀

  12. ChIkA Hito giNGko..oh / Jan 16 2010 9:24 pm

    Thanks pal.. I really need those thing. Thanks..

    • owbEe / Jan 22 2010 9:15 pm

      You’re welcome. 🙂

  13. Zall / Feb 11 2010 3:33 am

    great site! i just started learning korean recently. the sites above are very helpful! thanks!
    je ireumeum imnida Zall. 😀

    • owbEe / Feb 11 2010 3:30 pm

      Thanks Zall. 😀

    • Zall / Feb 12 2010 7:00 am

      besides memorizing hangeul. any other recommendations on how i should start learning korean or things that i should take note of? 🙂

      i learnt some basic transliterated korean and i feel it is not so helpful since i don’t know how to write the actual words out. =/

      actually i’m quite lost on how i should start learning korean. haha! xD

  14. owbEe / Feb 12 2010 4:39 pm

    Hi Zall.

    Why don’t you try visiting my Index Page. I made a list of my previous posts there. You can find links to online Korean Courses, pronunciation, basic expressions and culture. 😀

    • Zall / Feb 13 2010 5:48 am

      wow! that sure helped! haha. thanks! :D.

      i found one pretty user friendly program to learn foreign lanugages which i wanna share with you guys.
      the free version is called ‘Byki 4 Express’ at http://www.Byki.com u can download some korean cards by searching the site and import the list into the program. and will go through all the words/phrases on the list one by one and also keep track of what u have learnt. 🙂

  15. Matthias / Aug 19 2010 3:32 pm

    I just want to learn that alphabet too.

    • owbEe / Aug 19 2010 6:05 pm

      Just keep on practicing. You’ll get used to them eventually. 😀

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