When I first began learning Korean, it was after I had been studying Japanese for years. I could read Kanji, I could understand what I was reading, and I was getting to a point where I could watch anime without subs. Many people even wondered why I was switching in the first place! But where I live there are more Korean speakers than Japanese so it just made sense to me. I still have Japanese in my mind and I’m trying to do both at the same time but it gets pretty confusing.
Hangul has been the biggest challenge for me. In the beginning I thought it would be easy. But it’s not. I’ve been studying Korean in romanization this whole time. It wasn’t until a friend pulled me to the side and said, “Listen, you’re doing well with Korean and all but don’t you think it’s time actually start, ya’ know, reading and writing it?” I instantly got scared and nervous and defensive all at once. How was I supposed to actually learn Hangul? First of all, I had no clue what jamo was and I immediately got defensive at the notion that I would ever advance to a point that I could read it. I mean, I already watch the news in Korean, documentaries in Korean, and most my primetime television shows are in Korean! Wasn’t that enough?
Flash forward to a month later… I’m recognizing symbols. I have an app on my phone from Seoul University that helps me with pronunciation, writing, and recognition. I have a self study program that also helps me with writing and recognition. And then there’s the Word of the Day posts that I do that have me constantly writing out the words in Hangul and romanization. I guess you could say, I’m not defensive anymore. Kanji was easier to me because I could relate it to letters in English because of how it was written. There weren’t any stacked characters to make a word. Stacking was new to me. It’s not so foreign now and I think I’m getting better at it.
…Only time will tell.
The Word of the Day Series has been just as much help for me as it’s hopefully been for you. I’ll continue it for as long as I possibly can. My goal is fluency and if you’ve arrived at TwentyThirdStation, chances are your goal is too if you’re not already fluent in Korean. Learning a new language is still a journey for me. It’s slowly becoming navigational.