Today I’m going to start reviewing some of the great websites I’ve found for students of the Korean language. For those of you who don’t know, Hangul, the Korean alphabet, is a relatively recent development, at least in Korean terms. It was developed in the 15th century – Korea is a very old civilization!
Inevitably, considering the geography and history of conquest, spoken Korean uses many words of Chinese origin. Until Hangul was invented, Chinese characters were used, and in fact, continued to be used by the educated classes until the 20th century. However, Korean is from a distinct language group. In fact, linguists aren’t quite sure where it originated – personally, I think it sounds like a cross between French, Scandinavian languages, and Klingon.
Luckily for non-Asian Korean-learners, Hangul is now the standard form of Korean writing in most contexts. Like the English alphabet, Hangul is phonetic, so you can learn the jamo (letters) and start sounding out words in a reasonable amount of time.
Learn to read, write and pronounce Korean – This is my favorite site for learning Hangul. As each group of letters is introduced, there is a list of English words spelled in Hangul for students to figure out. This process helped me remember the letters far more effectively and entertainingly than flash cards (and since many of the words were international locations, refreshed my geography as well!). Alas, it is unfinished, so you will need to find another site to complete the alphabet. I’d love to credit the author (who has several other language websites), but s/he is too modest to identify him/herself on the website.
More tools coming up in my next post!