I’m going to start this off with a confession…
I haven’t exactly been taking my own advice. It’s easier to tell someone what to do because you know it works than to actually do it yourself. I’ve been so scared of making mistakes that I started slacking and not speaking now, I’m pretty much starting from scratch. That’s not to say I forgot everything… I mean this to say, starting from scratch with conversations and sentence structure. I remember words and they’re all jumbled up in my head and I can form sentences but saying them, it sounds like I’m a beginner all over again. I guess this is why I stress doing this daily. If you don’t, you’ll definitely notice a difference.
But the reason why I can form useful sentences, even if I can’t properly pronounce them for the time being, is because I built up a list of common words that are actually important. You may have notice that I stopped doing Vocabulary lists or object lists like, “items around the house, animals, family members etc”, it’s because they aren’t practical. One day you will need them and it’ll be very useful but for right now, it’s not important. For a kindergartner, it would be important and useful because, to do a degree, they’re already speaking the language. But if you’re just starting out, you really don’t need to know your colors and things like that.
So to help you out, I’ve put together a list of things that are much more practical to help you build a list of what you need to know starting out.
- Your name, their name, where you’re from, where they’re from, work, school, hobbies, likes/dislikes… this is just basic “getting to know you” information that’s not only good for getting to know someone or telling them about yourself but it’s good for conversation starters.
- Telling Time
- This may seem not very practical, but if you have a meeting or need to be somewhere or need someone you meet you, you need to know how to tell them or ask what time you need to arrive.
- Asking directions
- This requires that you learn these things
- Directional terms
- “Turn (here/left/right)”
- “Where is…”
- Location particle usage
- Numbers | Sino-Korean
- This typically falls in line with vocabulary lists, however, I specified Sino-Korean because you’ll be more than likely using this number system to tell time, give dates, etc.
- It is still important to learn the Native Korean number system!
- There are a lot of particles, so I narrowed down which ones are actually important for starting out.
- Destination (we are currently covering this particle during the Grammar of the Week series.)
- Common verbs/adjectives
- This is extremely helpful when you are trying to create sentences. The Korean sentence structure is either (Subject-Object-Verb) or (Subject-Adjective). There are other sentence structures that you’ll learn as you go along, but these two are the most common and most basic. If you don’t know verbs or adjectives, it’ll be very difficult to actually speak.
- The easiest way to build this list is write down verbs/adjectives you use on a regular basis. It’ll take time to compile the list but once you do, find the Korean alternative to each word and use it.
- i.e., “I ran today.” —>> “오늘 달렸다.”
- Other verbs you may use frequently:
- You can probably think of more but as you build your list, translate each word into Korean.
So that’s your basic starter kit. As you grow in the Korean language, so will this list. And remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s better to a mistake than to have to retrain yourself in how to speak. (like my current situation)
Keep practicing and don’t stop speaking!