“As vocabulary is reduced , so are the number of feelings you can express, the number of events you can describe, the number of the things you can identify! Not only understanding is limited, but also experience. Man grows by language. Whenever he limits language he retrogresses!” ― Sheri S. Tepper, A Plague of Angels
As I said in the previous article, the common assumption that Grammar is more important than Vocabulary is nothing but a myth. Vocabulary is of crucial importance to any foreign language learner. And when it comes to a language like Korean which has a very rich vocabulary to express subtle meanings and emotions, the importance of a strong vocabulary increases much more. Here I am listing a few reasons why you should work for a stronger Korean Vocabulary:-
- Better Comprehension: Language is learned through comprehension. When you get a language input either by reading or listening, you learn various aspects of the language even without noticing that you are learning. But in order to learn the language you will need to understand what you are reading or listening. Only then it can be useful and meaningful to you and help you with the acquisition of the language. Without a strong vocabulary you can neither read nor listen much. If you start reading something and you are frequently getting unknown words in the text, it is more likely that you will give up reading soon. If you know more vocabulary, you will read more; you will listen more and ultimately you will learn more. How many times has it happened with you that you could not answer a question because you didn’t know just one crucial word in the question? A friend of mine had to leave the essay question in Intermediate TOPIK because he understood the whole question but not the main crucial word, i’e. the topic of the essay. His Korean was very good and only if he had known that single word he could have written a good essay on it. If you have a stronger vocabulary, you can guess the meaning of many words and grammar patterns just from the context and it will definitely help you get a good score in TOPIK.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” –Mark Twain
- Successful Communication: Vocabulary plays an important role in all 4 fields of communication- Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. Good vocabulary will improve your skills in all these 4 areas. You will not only be able to understand what others have written or said but also successfully convey what you want to say to others. The selection of wrong word can cause misunderstanding and affect your personal image as well as social relationships. There are many words that have a subtle shade of difference in meaning and these differences are closely connected to different emotions and feelings. remember my story of using the word ‘늙은’ from the article ‘What is more important in learning Korean: Grammar or Vocabulary‘?
- Effective Communication: Language is not just for survival, It makes your overall personality. All of us know that great speakers and authors have a much wider range of words than the normal people. These words help them craft their sentences in a very effective way. The use of good words make the sentences more precise and effective. Having a good vocabulary does not mean that you have to know too many words and use the difficult ones when you write or speak. It’s all about knowing the words in their totality (meaning and context) and chose a word with precision to use in a specific situation. Knowing good vocabulary does not make your sentences long and difficult, it actually makes them simple.
- Better Thinking: Have you ever noticed that your vocabulary affects how deep you think about something? If you have a beginner level vocabulary then your thoughts while writing or speaking about something won’t go beyond a certain limit. But when you have to describe the same thing in your mother tongue, your thoughts will go to new heights. It is because our brain knows our boundaries. A good stock of vocabulary opens our mind.
- Impress others, Improve relationships: Stronger vocabulary leads to good communication and all of us know that Good communication skills lead to better social image and better relationships. I remember once I used the word ‘분말’ instead of ‘가루’, referring to the powder that goes into Ramyeon and the teacher I was talking to was so impressed with it. Korean Language has two kinds of vocabulary- Pure Korean and Sino-Korean (that are made of hanja). They are used in different situations. I will cover that in a separate post.
In conclusion, You need to take some time from your Korean grammar study to build up your vocabulary. Very soon you will realize that it’s improving your overall Korean language skill. That’s all for now. See you in the next article..