05 May, 2010

Getting Started with Korean: Reading

Yesterday I told you how I learned and practiced Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Learning Hangul is the most important step you'll ever make when starting to learn Korean.  Even without ever having learned any Korean words, you'll be able to guess what the English equivalents of the following 5 country names are:

  1. 캐나다
  2. 스웨덴 
  3. 브라질
  4. 프랑스
  5. 폴란드
I found it to be incredibly motivating when I found out that I was able to read Korean words and understand their meanings only about 30 minutes after I began learning the alphabet. 
Country names are not the only words you'll understand when you're able to read Hangul. There are a lot of Korean loan words that have been borrowed from the English language. Try to read the following 5 words:

  1. 호텔
  2. 인터뷰
  3. 바나나
  4. 피아노
  5. 소시지
The English translations of these 10 words can be found in the comments to this blog post. Be sure to at least try to read them before you'll have a look. I'm sure you'll figure it out pretty easily!


  1. Country names:

    1. Canada
    2. Sweden
    3. Brazil
    4. France
    5. Poland

    Loan words:

    1. Hotel
    2. Interview
    3. Banana
    4. Piano
    5. Sausage

  2. I also have been pleasantly being surprised by the fact that I already knew so many Spanish words even before I look them up in a dictionary. Thank so many painful years studying English through my youth.

  3. Yeah, you're right. There are so many words that are really similar in both languages mostly because of their common Latin origin.

    celebrate = celebrar
    activity = actividad

    But beware of "False Friends":

    éxito doesn't mean exit, it means success
    sensible doesn't mean sensible, it means sensitive

  4. Thank you for the advice! I googled 'false friends' and it is really interesting.

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  6. Korean alphabet is indeed one of the easiest to learn (: But pronunciation is difficult due to the numerous sound changes that can occur depending on the phonetic neighbours.


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  8. Very informative post! This language is new for me but i am eager to learn this language. I think everyone should know foreign languages because when we know many languages, we will communicate better. One of the smartest things you can do is learn another language.
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