5 reasons Korean is tough to learn
Someone said that according to the FBI, Korean is the second hardest language for native English speakers to learn. I’m not sure where that stat about the FBI came from because I heard it second hand. Japanese still seems like it’s harder. Still, I can see why Korean is such a challenge:
- Different alphabet: It’s not a different scrambling of the English alphabet, like the other romance languages. It’s a completely different alphabet. Nothing looks the same.
- New sounds: The consonants aren’t too bad, with only a few exceptions (like b and p, j and ch, and t and d). The trouble comes with the new vowel sounds. They’re usually harder to learn. I’ll try to work directly from the Korean alphabet as much as I can to avoid the middle, romanization steps.
- Extra numbers: Koreans use two different types of numbers, so learning Korean means learning both types and learning when to use each. One type is derived from Chinese, but unfortunately that doesn’t help me at all.
- Switched syntax: English usually follows a Subject / Verb / Object structure (SVO). Korean, though, is Subject / Object / Verb (SOV). For example, instead of saying, “I threw the ball,” I’d say in Korean, “I the ball threw.” That by itself usually adds a couple months to the challenge, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have any experience with the structure, other than the occasional Yoda imitation.
- Politeness levels: Evidently, Koreans use different forms of speech depending on who they’re talking to or about. From what I can tell, it’s almost like the difference between “Thank you, sir” and “Thanks, man.” Problem is, there are seven different levels to learn, and I don’t think you and I (native English speakers) use any of them. So not only do you need to learn the forms to use, you also need to learn when to use them.
So yeah, sounds like fun, right?