Struggling with Korean.

It is difficult to leave languages which you enjoy, where you are able to enjoy interesting content, and then have to start up again with a language where you struggle, where you have to go back to learner content.

I am working with Who is She and Eating Out at LingQ. There are still parts that I don’t understand even after saving all the words I don’t know, and listening to the episodes quite a few times, and reading them on iLingQ on my iPad. I will continue, however, because I know things will eventually click in.

What I enjoy more is reading online Korean newspapers. Even though I have to look up most of the words, the content is of interest. This is the same as what I did with Czech. I started reading online newspapers before I was comfortable with Who is She and other beginner material. The newspaper articles give you a sense of the country, what is happening, what matters in the language. On the other hand, the learner material seems stale.

I am helped in reading the Korean newspapers by my knowledge of Chinese. I make a point of finding the Chinese character in my Naver dictionary, and putting it into the Hint. Unfortunately Naver is not consistent in where it provides the character, so I have to look for it each time. Nor does Naver always provide a clear translation of the meaning. Not an ideal dictionary in my view, but the best available I guess.

14 comments on “Struggling with Korean.

I find I’m the same way. Once my knowledge of kanji and kanji readings reached the point where I could reasonably start tackling NHKニューズ, I dug in. It’s a great way to practice my kanji comprehension, and to discover what matters to Japanese people.Really like your approach to language learning. It’s been very influential on me. Keep it up!

This is precisely why I advise people to use actual ‘real’ material (that is, material generated for consumption by native speakers, not for language learners) from the popular media that they’re actually interested in (newspapers in your case) or entertained by (like TV shows, children’s books or cartoons if you’re a beginner, etc.). They interesting and, unlike formal learning material, NOT boring.Boring kills more fledgling would-be language learners than anything else, bar none.Stick with stuff that amuses, interests, and entertains you, Steve, don’t force yourself "grunt through" boring material unless it’s absolutely necessary and there’s no other better way.I wish you the best and look forward to hearing about your progress.Cheers,Andrew


hello steve! i have a question for you , in your opinion is it different in terms of quality and results reading a novel aloud ( assuming that i already know the pronuciation of the langauge i am reading in )from reading it mentally along with the audio book ?

Steve Kaufmann

The aspects of "culture" that interest the person who prepares the learning material, may not interest the learner, in fact often don’t. The only way is for the learner to be able to choose things of interest, and for a system to enable him or her to learn from this interesting content they have chosen. In essence that is what LingQ tries to do.


You make a good point Steve. I am not sure why more learning materials don’t put more emphasis on the actual content being at least interesting or educational in some way, so that the learner can study both language and culture at once.

The tricky thing about Korean is that there are dozens, possibly hundreds of different verb endings for any given word, each with its own subtle nuance that changes the meaning slightly. Especially when you factor in several levels of honorifics that take into account both who you’re talking to, and who you’re talking about… Things get complicated.When speaking, this isn’t a problem — you can simply use the most basic form every time and people will understand you. But when reading, in the beginning it’s hard to recognize that you’re seeing a different form of a word you already know, and even when you’re intermediate-advanced, it’s sometimes difficult to understand why they used one suffix instead of another and how exactly that changes the meaning of the sentence. There have been occasions where I’ve known every word in a sentence, yet still been completely unable to understand the meaning of the sentence due to its complicated grammar. Korean grammar and sentence structure is so completely different from the romance languages.That said, as with any language, after enough input it just starts to feel natural. Having just discovered LingQ and going through the library, I’m surprised when I realize just how much I understand after four years of living in the country. However, I’m still a ways away from being able to read the newspaper (which is notoriously difficult to the point where my Korean friends have told me a lot of Koreans can’t read it 😉 )Good luck with your Korean studies. Or for a taste of culture that you may not have come across in your content yet, 화이팅!

Steve Kaufmann

Hi Anno, I went to but could not see any articles that I could import into LingQ, just a few sentences with glossaries, which is not my preferred way to learn. On the other hand the video lessons on your blog are great. Are you allowed to share those at LingQ?

Steve Kaufmann

I had a look but can’t see how this would be useful to me. I like texts with audio, texts that I can import into LingQ and on interesting subjects, that is interesting to me. This does not seem to have it. Thanks though.

James Devereux

Hi Steve, Do you know about the site you want to understand about Korea and read very interesting articles that the locals have been reading from the internet, it’s an excellent site. Everything is translated into English but you can see the original Korean by hovering over it, or following the source links.They also have sister sites for Japan and China which you are likely to also find of great interest.All the best,James

Steven Wilson

Hey.@ Anon and Steve Kaufmann. We are planning on doing an audio recording of our articles soon and sharing them on LingQ. : )and if you hover your mouse over the sentences, you can see the English translation of them.Merry Christmas~-Steven

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