Learning Korean!


So for two years running one of my New Year’s Resolutions has been to learn Korean.  Last year my gracious husband bought me a workbook Korean from Zero 1, and I was super excited.  However, life happened and I wasn’t able to dedicate much time to drama watching or blogging, let alone trying to learn a new language!  Thankfully things have simmered down enough in the past three months that I’ve been able to really put some focus into learning Korean.

I took some German in high school, and have learned some Spanish watching Dora and Diego with my son.  But that is where my language skills end!  People who fluently speak, read, and write in multiple languages amaze me to no ends!  I am fairly certain that I won’t ever become fluent, but that’s ok with me.  Right now I am absolutely enjoying learning.  And even more excited to be able to recognize some of what I have learned while watching dramas and variety shows!

The workbook that I have is fantastic, it has truly helped me.  It is wonderfully

easy to use and easy to understand.  Plus you can go to their website and use the mp3 function to listen to audio assistance files.  What I have learned so far is that words are made up of characters and characters are made up of letters.  Now I am only a few chapters in so right now the characters I am learning are made up of only two letters.  Then these characters are combined to create words.  The concept of the workbook is that if you can read the letters, characters, and words you can learn to speak it more efficiently.

What I’m struggling with is the Romanization of the Hangul.  Like the sound which is Romanized as EO.  My brain makes that sound like a long E or a long O depending on how it sits among other letters.  When actually, it is pronounced like the word AWE.  However, you must make an O shape with your mouth while saying the AWE sound in order to get it right.  It’s the little puzzles like this that stump me for a bit.  Thus far I’ve been able to use the tools at my disposal to figure these things out.  But it would be so much nicer if I had someone close that spoke image

Korean to actually talk to.  Ah well, maybe someday!

An interesting thing that I’ve discovered is that the words I am learning to read are (for the most part) not on my list of words I know from watching dramas.  Things like omo, oppa, noona (though true Romanization spells this nuna), aigoo, and I think at my last metal calculation I knew about 40-ish words.  If the dialogue in a show is moving slowly I can usually pick out one or two words, but I’ve discovered that many Koreans talk way faster than I can follow along!  With reading words I know about 30, but it takes me a few moments to sound out the word and then remember what that word means.

It will probably be this time next year when I actually have completed the entire workbook, but that’s ok with me.  I am having the best time!  Anyone else out there learning Korean?  What methods are you using?  Flashcards have been hugely successful for me.  What books or classes are you taking?  I’d love to hear from you guys!


19 thoughts on “Learning Korean!

  1. Aw! Yay you! 😀 I don’t actually use anything.. I just watch a lot of drama! XD Oh, and I did put some effort into memorizing Hangul, ie, all the different parts and how they sound. That’s enough to help me pick up stuff onscreen, like, who’s the person calling on someone’s phone, etc. I’m far from being able to read and translate articles, but my goal’s always been more of, I wanna watch dramas without needing subs! XD

    PS: Love that your last pic is your sign-off – how apt! ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chaebol! You do watch a lot of dramas hehe. I watch a lot too, but not nearly as much as you 😉 I have learned a lot of words from just watching, but I am a very slow learner. I’ve got about half of the Hangul characters down and it has helped me ‘hear’ more things while watching dramas. That’s my goal too, I want to be able to watch the dramas without subtitles, but being able to read stuff has been super cool too.

      Thanks!! Hehe I thought it was a fun way to end the post. Though my handwriting is terrible lol.


  2. Good luck! I am also learning. I self-teach myself and talk to my Korean friends as well. Also it helps seeing my boyfriend is Korean himself! Again, I wish you a lot of luck!


    1. Thank you so much! I’m very jealous that you have Korean friends to talk to. That is something that I wish I had as well. Lucky gal with a Korean boyfriend too! hehe Thank you again and I wish you lots of luck as well chingu!


      1. Try looking online for penpal websites and such. Or maybe look around for language exchanges in your city! 🙂 And thank you too 친구 (chingu) 😀


  3. Dear Drama Noona – how delightfully timely your post is for me. I attended kcon2015la this summer and also picked up a learning method for Hangeul to which I am only occasionally applying myself. At kcon there was a session with Sun Hyun-woo, owner of Talk To Me in Korean and he was delightful. His vendor booth had a “fire sale” at the end of the 3rd day and I picked up a set of his books to use. He also has a website with mp3s and a fb page and youtube videos.Like you, life gives me multiple options on any given day (I still work 2 jobs), meaning I don’t give it the best attention.I am focusing first on correct pronunciation of the ‘alphabet’ (with the multiple characters – so – not so easy since there are 6 or 8 pronunciations of every consonant. lol). FYI I am grandmother (halmoni? 😉 )age and currently live in southern California. I started watching dramas just under 2 years ago and have watched a LOT. I also picked up a love of certain kpop. As you might imagine, my retirement age friends all think I’ve gone off the deep end. LOL. I would love to have someone to share this process with if we could correspond. Cheers -vDrama Dazy (Laurie) P.S. I also enjoy watching Professor Oh on youtube – silly, sweet and informative.


    1. Annyeonghaseyo Halmoni!

      That is so lovely to hear! I am super happy that my post had lovely timing! Let me take a second to say that I am so very-very jealous that you were able to go to K-Con! I wanted to go so badly, I am hopeful that I can go next year. Even occasionally working at it is still a fantastic thing. I haven’t heard of that method, but I will absolutely take a look into it. I don’t think you can have enough tools to help you learn.

      I work full time, have a seven year old boy, am married, and then all sorts of life things too. I absolutely understand not having the time to dedicate learning. That’s exactly what I am doing too, taking my time with trying to learn pronunciation. I think taking my time with each character has helped me to remember them better. Right! Haha there are sometimes so many ways to pronounce something that I get confused.

      I’m just a little bit over in Northern Idaho. It’s been about 2.5 years, maybe 3 for me with watching Asian Dramas. I just can’t get enough of them. I have also started a love addiction with K-Pop and my collection of music has grown a lot in the past few months. My friends and family also look at me like I’ve gone a bit crazy. My husband just sort of shakes his head at my obsession. I would love to have a friend to talk to through this journey of learning Korean and enjoying Asian Dramas! Lovely to meet you Laurie!


      1. Hi DN,

        Yes, it was definitely a thrill to attend kcon2015 – even with all it’s crazy disorganization and disappointing fan meets I still enjoyed being with fans,seeing some of the bloggers I read, seeing the culturally relevant products (lots of beauty booths, silly toys, a few drama-related booths) a few interesting panels – and the concerts were a highlight of my life – a fabulous kpop extravaganza. It was an exhausting 3 days for an old lady and I wouldn’t have missed it. 🙂

        Pronunciation is my challenge too. I decided not to try to go too fast until I feel comfortable with saying the “alphabet” easily, at least while using the one vowel (ah is the easiest for me) I was very excited the other day to see a Korean word that I was able to read by sounding it out. One word. Baby steps. I kinda wish I had a Korean alphabet computer keyboard.

        I agree that romanization is/can be very misleading. One of the books from TTMIK explains mouth positions and airflow and I am trying to use those instructions. I do need to *listen to lessons more but I have been resisting a bit because I don’t know enough to know if the speaker is really spot on. We know 😉 from dramas that there are regional dialects and of course each speaker has a personal inflection. I imagine the difference between learning pronunciation of English from a Brit, a New Yorker, a Kentuckian or a Californian. They are all speaking English – but… lol. In Korean where even the sounds they are making for the characters are different sounds than what we make in English – I would like, in the end, to speak understandable Korean. (Ask me why???? I DON’T KNOW lol) Like kfangurl I would like to watch without subtitles too. It would be so nice to be in krcalove’s situation with Korean friends! While at KCON one of the booths loaded an app on my phone Gaon Hangeul I and it has sound and mouth position illustrations. I use it to practice – and I did notice that sometimes the vowels sound different than I hear elsewhere. I guess that partially explains my hesitance.

        Flashcards are something I’ve never used… would you give me some hints about how to use them?

        I am just watching a movie “Teach Me English Please” and the (I think she’s Australian or maybe NZ) teacher’s use of Korean is a bit disheartening in terms of an English speaker learning Korean well. Eh, I am pressing on anyway. (Side note: the movie is entirely worth it for the scene of Jang Hyuk tap dancing 40 minutes in.)



      2. That’s sad that Kcon2015 was so haphazard and the fan meets weren’t up to par. At least hanging out with the other fans and bloggers helped to make up for it. I bet the booths and cultural things were amazing. I’ve watched some clips of the concert too, I can see why that was the highlight! I’m sure I would feel the same way too! Perhaps next year I’ll be able to go too!

        The pronunciation is a pain lol. I think taking time and learning it slowly is best. I have found that I am able to more easily recall the sounds and pronunciations. Listening to the MP3s and the flashcards have really helped me to get better at the pronunciations, but I’m certain I’m not close enough on most of them. Oh yeah that would be great, a Korean keyboard. I’ve really stopped looking at the Romanization, it just makes me ever more confused. The more I hear about this TTMIK I like it. The book I have talks about mouth positions too, but I feel like I’d like more education on that piece.

        Right I try to match how I say it to the dramas and variety TV that I watch, but sometimes they pronounce things so differently that I get more confused. Haha understandable Korean! That is a fantastic way to say it. I’d really like that too. I’d like to be able to hold a conversation with a natural speaker and for them to understand what I’m talking about. Having a working knowledge of the language can only help understand dramas more, or so I’d think.

        I think I might look for Korean pen-pals or skype pals! Since I have no one here to speak it with I need to make my own way and find my own friends. Even with only being two chapters into my book I have found that I understand many more phrases which is awesome and exciting. I just am handwriting out the single letters, characters, and words on index cards. But apparently there are a few digital flashcards that you can find apps for. If I find out more information on those I’ll let you know.

        I’ve added “Teach Me English Please” to my watch list! Thank you for the recommendation!
        ❤ Jaime the Drama Noona


  4. Congratulations on learning an new language! It’s so great that you’re taking on this challenge, I’ve wanted to pick up another language for a long time but it’s something that keeps getting pushed into the future. I really admire you for taking the steps that you have. Fighting!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like kfangurl, my goal has mostly been to learn enough to be able to watch dramas without subs, LOL! These days I watch a lot unsubbed and then have a 2nd pass with subs or just read re-caps to cover the spots I didn’t get. Other than that I have been learning Korean for several years now, mostly all by me lonesome. I have taken a few courses too, which were quite helpful with the basics, like reading and writing hangul, pronounciation etc. Due to ‘real’ studies I had a long hiatus on learning Korean as I didn’t have time or energy for anything extra curricular then. So, now I’ve been slowly trying to get back on track, which is proving pretty darned hard.

    I’ve lately been using on-line ‘flashcards’ at Memrise. Those are pretty nifty as I can use them either on my computer or tablet. Memrise has surprisingly many different vocabularies, also for several Korean study books, mine included.^^

    Oh, one thing I noticed though – romanization only messes up things, so I stopped using that as an aid very early on. It’s a lot more helpful to use the audio files for words and sentences. I used to listen to the mp3s to different chapters of the 1st study book of the series over and over and over again. It took me forever to get through each chapter but it paid in the long run. I still do that to some extent. 🙂

    Good luck with the studies!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is my ultimate goal too! But I am really enjoying reading too, I can sound things out not that I know what the words are yet haha. I’m super jealous of the fact that you can watch dramas without subs! Hopefully someday I’ll be able to do the same! That is impressive that you’ve done it all on your own! Awesome job chingu! There aren’t any courses in my area, yet, but I’m hopeful the college will be expanding their language seminar program. Oh yeah learning Korean while also going to school wow yeah I would have taken a break as well.

      There are times that I have a few days or a week go by between when I use the flashcards and the first few moments are always tough. I can’t imagine getting back in after a hiatus, good luck chingu! Hwaighting! Ooooh I am going to check out Memrise too, they sound great! I enjoy my little handwritten ones, but having digital ones as well would be fantastic.

      Ok so it isn’t just me that is utterly confused by the Romanization! I just get so lost when I try to use it. I’ve given up on that and have been using the mp3s from the site to help me pronounce the characters. I need to download the mp3s to my phone and listen to them more often that might help quite a bit. I am taking forever too haha but I’m not letting that stress me out. I think that going slow is actually helping me to retain it more.

      Thank you! Good luck to you too! Fighting!

      Liked by 2 people

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