“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 we discussed in the last 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 manifold. Here I am listing 5 most important 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 are reading something and frequently getting unknown words in the text, your chances of giving up reading are very high. If you know more vocabulary, you will feel like reading more; you will listen to Korean content more often 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? I remember, once a friend of mine had to leave the essay question in TOPIK II unattempted just because he couldn’t understand just one word in the question. He understood all the other 25-30 words in that essay question be without that one word (which was the topic of the essay) nothing made any sense. Here, his Korean language skill was not the problem; in fact he spoke fluent Korean. Problem was his weak Korean vocabulary. Only if the had known that single word may be he could have written a very good essay and passed level 4 or 5.
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 test.
2. 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 you will also be able to successfully express what you want to say to others. The selection of wrong words 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 분’ from the article ‘What is more important in learning Korean: Grammar or Vocabulary‘? As Mark Twain said – “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
3. Effective Communication: Language is not just for survival, It shapes 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 enhances their impact. Having a good vocabulary does not mean 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 choose a word with precision to use in a specific situation. Having a good vocabulary does not make your sentences long and difficult, it actually makes them easy to comprehend.
4. 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 new windows in our brain.
5. 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 (bunmal)’ instead of ‘가루(garu)’, referring to the powdered form of spices in 라면 (Ramyeon) and the native Korean person I was talking to was super impressed that I knew even such ‘difficult’ words. Though I had learned that word just from my habit of checking ingredients on food packets. He overestimated my Korean language level just because I used an advanced level word instead of the beginner level one.
So, whether you are learning Korean just a hobby or to study in Korea or to make a career in it, you should work on improving your Korean vocabulary. Very soon you will realize that your enhanced vocabulary is helping you improve your overall Korean language skills.