I receive questions from all over the world about learning Korean. Often times, it starts with liking KPOP or Korean Dramas and goes from there. But often times, people get frustrated with learning Korean and give up. Sometimes it’s because they don’t seem to be making progress. Sometimes, people feel discouraged about picking up Korean culture. Whatever your case happens to be, one thing is true. If you work hard and are committed to learning, YOU CAN LEARN KOREAN! Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you on your journey.
Learn To Love The Culture
So many times, people have a hard time understanding why things are happening in a Korean drama or in Korean culture. For example, you may be watching a drama and noticed that an older person is called by a title, but the subtitles call the person by their name. Confusing right? Why does this happen? Subtitles often give a clue as to what is happening in a story, but knowing the culture will help you understand the language and life of Koreans. Knowing a language without knowing the culture is like having words in a dictionary but not having the definition to help you understand the words. Simply put, understanding the culture equals understanding of the language. Embrace the culture, and the language will make more sense as you go along.
One big mistake people make is with the way that they learn. Many people hear about Korean sentence structure and then try to master it without having enough words to use it properly. But think of how a child learns a language. As a baby, it listens to many words and eventually will start to mimics what it has heard. After a few years, it has full vocabulary. Even though the child does not know every word in the language, it is fluent enough to talk regularly. It is after the child has taken these steps that they go to school and learn why they speak the way that they do. Then they are taught proper sentence structure and grammar. This is the natural way of learning a language. But as adults, we tend to learn a language backwards. This is what leads to frustration and giving up. If you have felt this way before, try learning the way a child does and see how this will help you in your Korean learning.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Many times, people try to be perfect when learning a new language. But this is not realistic or advisable. Many people who have spoken a language their whole lives still make mistakes when reading, writing and speaking the language. So if a Korean person will make mistakes when learning Korean, why would you expect perfection from yourself as someone new to the language and culture? Everyone makes mistakes. But no one can correct your mistakes unless you are comfortable enough to make them. Learn from your mistakes, and they will help you fly higher in the future.
Don’t Give Up
When learning a new language and culture, you will go through ups and downs. That is why some liken learning a language to climbing a mountain that has deep valleys and a high summit. But can a climber get to the top of the mountain if he stops climbing because he came across a deep valley? No. The only way to get to the top is to keep climbing until he reaches the top. Learning Korean, or any other language for that matter, usually takes years of hard work and practice. Do not expect to become an expert in Korean overnight. Take your time and enjoy your ride on the Korean wave. And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.