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6 Reasons why Learning Korean Language is Difficult [Infographic] 

 June 26, 2017

By  TOPIK GUIDE Team

Korean is considered one of the difficult languages to learn for English speakers. US Foreign Service Institute puts Korean in Category V of language difficulty ranking which means it is ‘an exceptionally difficult language to learn for English speakers’.  Though I am personally very skeptical about such ranking, as I think whether a language is difficult or easy will depend on a lot of factors including the learner and learning situations than just the language itself, I agree that it’s among comparatively difficult languages. Following are the 6 major reasons that make Korean a difficult language to learn:

WORD ORDER

Especially for speakers of English and some European languages, the word order of Korean language can be really difficult to grasp. Verbs coming at the end with conjugations, particles instead of prepositions etc. can be tricky to understand.

PRONUNCIATION

Korean language has a lot of complicated pronunciation rules. Though one gets used to them with time but irregular pronunciation changes can be really annoying at the beginning level.

VERB ENDING FORMS

Korean has many verb ending forms depending upon the context. ㅂ니다/습니다 endings for formal situations, 아/어요 for informal speaking, (ㄴ/는)다 for writing and so on. They make learning Korean more difficult.

CONNECTORS

Korean language has a lot of connectors and sometimes the sentences can get really lengthy with so many connectors. Your poor brain will be busy figuring out the connectors in the first half of the sentence while your Korean friend would already have spoken 5 more sentences.

HONORIFICS

Even if you master Korean grammar and vocabulary you can frequently get youself in embarrassing situations if you don’t get your head around Korean honorific system. It’s an integral part of Korean culture and it’s easy to offend people with wrong use of honorifics.

COLLOQUIAL LANGUAGE

You memorise all those sentences in your textbook really well and when you land in Korea everybody seems to be speaking a different language. ‘이것이 무엇입니까?’ becomes ‘이거 뭐예요?’. Instead of ‘실례합니다’ and ‘김철수 씨!’ people are calling each other like ‘저기요!’ and ‘야!’.

6 Reasons Why Learning Korean Language is difficult

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TOPIK GUIDE Team


We are a team of passionate researchers from Seoul National University specializing in Korean language and linguistics. We are committed to helping international students prepare for the TOPIK test. You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube

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