Know your superstitions when learning Korean

Now that you are learning about the exotic culture of South Korean you must know a few of their cultural superstitions. 

There are lots of other superstitions too in South Korean culture.  For example, it's suggested that you shouldn’t allow your legs to shake restlessly or your feet to tap about as you are literally shaking off any good luck that might be coming your way.  It’s also believed that you shouldn't give your partner new shoes as they might use them to run away.

The number four is considered unlucky in South Korean culture.  In much the same way that you won’t find a hospital bed in the UK numbered 13 for example, you won’t find the ‘fourth floor’ in South Korea and houses won’t be numbered ‘4’.  Bearers of gifts in South Korea are also unlikely to take gifts in blocks of four – e.g. four red roses. Why is it unlucky?  Some claim that it is because it sounds like the Chinese word for ‘death’ - In Chinese culture, the number 4 is also considered unlucky for the same reasons. 

Learning Hangul

The 한글 or Hangul is the Korean alphabet. It has been used since the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century A.D. Composed of 14 consonants and 10 vowels, it’s said to be the most scientific alphabet in the world, mimicking almost every human sound and so precise that it’s extra easy to learn.

Knowing the Korean alphabet is fundamental for reading Korean. In the beginning, you may find it easier to use the Roman alphabet to pronounce Korean words, but you’ll quickly realize that this isn’t sustainable for long term use of learning the language—the quicker you learn the Korean alphabet, the more comfortable and more effective your learning experience will be.

Trust me, I made that mistake when I started!

Also, you’ll see that the Roman alphabet has some serious limitations when it comes to Korean, especially considering that it has some very different sounds. In fact, some consonants have three distinctions.

In a nutshell, when using the Roman alphabet to learn Korean it may lead to you making pronunciation mistakes and it’s an unnecessary crutch, so move away from it as soon as you can!

Memory and repetitions

Learning Hangul is straightforward if you put the time and effort needed—all you need is to memorize the characters and the sounds that are associated with them! Make sure you spend a little bit of time handwriting the series of symbols and simultaneously pronouncing their sounds to create an audio-visual connection. Watch this video to verify your pronunciation.

Then, proceed to write simple words to get used to this technique and practice. Make it easy and fun and keep practicing no matter your level of Korean. 

Don’t stop writing, even after you’ve mastered the strokes and sounds. You need to keep practicing to keep your memory sharp.

Invest time in proper learning

Having the right manuals is important on your journey to teaching yourself Korean. Keep it handy and make sure to review it every day!

A language method helps you learn progressively and helps you stay organized. A good language method should have a carefully designed curriculum and increasingly introduce new words, structures and idioms by order of complexity. 

The goal and thought behind this practice is to enable you to take the time to assimilate new content and to set up the right foundation for the future. Think of these lessons as building blocks!

These tips are key to follow, no matter which study system you choose.

  • Study! Follow the curriculum and be sure to fully assimilate novel content before you move on to the next lesson. The goal is to make new knowledge active, not just passive: it’s best to be able to express yourself than simply understand what is said. Remember, the goal of language learning is to be able to communicate!

  • Be consistent! Spend at least 20 minutes every day on a new lesson or topic. It’s more effective to devote mini sessions to learning Korean than spend two full hours a week just once.

  • Take notes and review them. There will be a bunch of new elements to memorize quickly, so make sure that you spend the time memorizing them!

Flashcards & Sticky Notes

Flashcards aren’t just for middle schoolers. Every learner should find them useful. Read up if in doubt! This really helped me with my progression of widening my vocabulary.

Flashcards stimulate your memory through visual association. The idea is to burn information into the brain and develop active recall. Over time, after seeing it so many times, your brain will remember the concept learned from a flashcard.

If you’ve decided to make your own flashcards, we recommend keeping it simple. Write a Korean word on the front and its translation on the back. Optionally, you may want to add the word’s Korean pronunciation on the back as well. The latter is important if you occasionally ask a friend who doesn’t read Hangul to quiz you.

Testing, testing, testing

Test yourself. Start by reading the Korean word and give yourself no more than three seconds to come up with its translation. When you’ve completed the set, flip the cards and reiterate the process, this time by reading the English word and translating it into Korean. 

Now you have the keys and the right tools to learn the language, book your flight and get over to South Korea and find out how wonderful and friendly the people are. Korea is one of my favorite countries to visit and I know you will love it too.

See you there!

If you want to immerse yourself into this beautiful language please click to enquire now.

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