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skeeterses
Senior Member
United States
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302 posts - 356 votes 
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Korean, Spanish

 
 Message 17 of 35
10 March 2007 at 6:57am | IP Logged 
On the Hanjas, I recently picked up a few Korean books that use the Hanjas extensively. A few days ago, I went over to Geong-ju and visited one of the temples in the DongHae area. One of the people at the temple gave me 2 books that are used in the Budhist rituals. I have one of the books with me, The Gates of the 108 Confessions (백팔대참회문)? I don't think that there's an English translation available but if you can get a hold of some of those religious texts in Korean, you can definately see the Hanjas used in context instead of merely reading them from a learner's dictionary.
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sebngwa3
Diglot
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United States
Joined 4598 days ago

200 posts - 217 votes 
Speaks: Korean*, English

 
 Message 18 of 35
06 May 2008 at 10:25pm | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
I believe you are seriously underestimating the difficulty of Korean.

The FSL courses grew out of the US army's need to rapidly develop translators for various "exotic" languages for the first time ever around the period of WWII. Based on this experience training some soldiers to speak languages the way they trained others to shoot rifles, they at some point developed a chart of difficulty of languages based on the number of hours it took for American GI's to master them. I came accross that chart many years ago, but stupidly did not copy it and have subsequently been able to find no reference to it. Does anyone out there know of it? At any rate, Korean was listed in the very highest level of difficulty, a notch above both Japanese and Chinese in fact. Primarily for this reason, I set out to learn it by going to live in the country. I spent nine years there, in fact married a Korean lady, and am certainly what I would term "functionally fluent for a foreigner." I have even authored a few books on Korean linguistics (a guide to Korean Verbal Conjugation, available from Dunwoody Press, and A Historical, Literary, and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language (with tapes), available from Hollym Press).

I know many other foreigners who have lived in the country for ages. All of them made some effort at learning the language initially, but only the smallest handful ever made any progress.

While you do not need to know Chinese characters for basic literacy in Korean, you simply MUST know them to make any progress in vocabulary acqusition beyond the beginner's level.

Everyone I have ever met who has learned both Korean and Japanese agrees that their grammars are almost as similar as those of any two Romance languages, but that that of Japanese has been streamlined, while Korean remains comparatively much more complex.

I have made good progress in a number of other "difficult" or exotic languages such as Russian and Arabic. Compared to Korean, both of these languages are much easier, i.e., if you apply yourself well, consistently, and intelligently every day for a number of years, after a single handful you will be rather advanced. However, with Korean you will still be in a fog. I have studied scores of languages, and Korean is unquestionably the most difficult one I have ever encountered.


Dear Professor,

I would like to use this as a source for "hardest language" in wikipedia. right now it is written as if japanese is hardest. But for a source to go to wikipedia, it has to appear on a personal website. Could you or anyone else have this on a website so that I could quote it?
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ChristopherB
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New Zealand
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 Message 19 of 35
08 May 2008 at 3:04am | IP Logged 
You might want to post that in the Lessons in Polyglottery forum. At any rate, Japanese is indeed listed as being the most difficult: http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/learningExpectation s.html

Edited by Fränzi on 08 May 2008 at 3:05am

1 person has voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
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693 posts - 1328 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 20 of 35
26 June 2011 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
I believe you are seriously underestimating the difficulty of Korean.....

....I have made good progress in a number of other "difficult" or exotic languages such as Russian and Arabic. Compared to Korean, both of these languages are much easier, i.e., if you apply yourself well, consistently, and intelligently every day for a number of years, after a single handful you will be rather advanced. However, with Korean you will still be in a fog. I have studied scores of languages, and Korean is unquestionably the most difficult one I have ever encountered.


Wow!! That is somewhat disheartening! Now I'm curious.   

So, to all you Korean scholars and speakers out there, suppose a native, adult English speaker wanted to achieve a solid ILR level 3 in spoken Korean. ( be able to easily enter and participate in non-technical conversations, understand movies and TV broadcasts, etc...) Is this an attainable goal? Is it possible without a lengthy immersion in Korea? I'm wondering if the steepness of the difficulty curve from a level 3 to a level 5 ( which I'm assuming Prof. Arguelles is referring to) dwarfs that from a level 0 to a level 3?

What do you think?
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Po-ru
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3914 days ago

173 posts - 235 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Korean, Spanish, Norwegian, Mandarin, French

 
 Message 21 of 35
26 June 2011 at 6:33pm | IP Logged 
liddytime wrote:
ProfArguelles wrote:
I believe you are seriously underestimating
the difficulty of Korean.....

....I have made good progress in a number of other "difficult" or exotic languages such
as Russian and Arabic. Compared to Korean, both of these languages are much easier,
i.e., if you apply yourself well, consistently, and intelligently every day for a
number of years, after a single handful you will be rather advanced. However, with
Korean you will still be in a fog. I have studied scores of languages, and Korean is
unquestionably the most difficult one I have ever encountered.


Wow!! That is somewhat disheartening! Now I'm curious.   

So, to all you Korean scholars and speakers out there, suppose a native, adult English
speaker wanted to achieve a solid ILR level 3 in spoken Korean. ( be able to easily
enter and participate in non-technical conversations, understand movies and TV
broadcasts, etc...) Is this an attainable goal? Is it possible without a lengthy
immersion in Korea? I'm wondering if the steepness of the difficulty curve from a
level 3 to a level 5 ( which I'm assuming Prof. Arguelles is referring to) dwarfs that
from a level 0 to a level 3?

What do you think?


liddytime, I have been studying Korean for about a year now, on and off. Sometimes I
would study for 5 hours a day, then due to school and work, I dropped down to studying
it occasionally. I had studied Japanese prior to my study of Korean and it was my
understanding that the languages were very similar and that acquisition of Korean would
be much easier. However, not so. From the earliest stages, you see Korean's syntax,
phonetics, and lexicon are very complex. For an English speaker, I also feel that
Korean is much harder to grasp for the ear than Japanese is. The pronunciation is
challenging and every verb can be conjugated in about 500 different ways, which carry
different meanings, levels of politeness, and connotations.

I am quite proud to say that I am at an Intermediate level of Korean and am looking
forward to advancing more. But it didn't come the way that Japanese did, and Japanese
was the third language I ever attempted to learn. Korean, my L4 so to say, was by far
the most challenging, even though I was confident in my study methods and materials,
and put in a lot of time and effort to it.

I have heard that DLI(the Defense Language Institute of America) was considering moving
Korean from a Level 4 to a Level 5 language, the only language of that category because
of its difficulty.

That all being said, Korean is a great language to learn. I think it sounds great,
there's a lot of slang, a lot of creativeness within the language, and since it's very
uncommon for Westerners to know anything more than a few basic phrases, going to a
Korean restaurant and being able to order food fluidly will get you much praise from
Koreans all over the shop, never mind if you are capable of conversing with them about
their lives.

For those interested in studying Korean it comes down to time and dedication, just as
any language. However, for English speakers Korean takes much more time and effort
than any other language I have encountered and I am sure most other learners would
agree.
6 persons have voted this message useful



Leurre
Bilingual Pentaglot
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United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: French*, English*, Korean, Haitian Creole, SpanishC2
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 Message 22 of 35
26 June 2011 at 7:39pm | IP Logged 
Liddytime,

I've been studying Korean on and off for four years (maybe two full years, one of which
was in Korea), pretty seriously, and I have tested at ILR level 3 in spoken Korean a
few months ago.
It's certainly possible and only gets easier as one goes along. I would say that it was
no so much the time spent in Korea but the presence of a real Korean friend with whom I
spoke Korean almost all the time that helped me improve.
I think the goal of getting to that level is certainly possible; I've met a guy who got
to a very solid 2 without ever having been to Korea.

As for the ILR levels, let me tell you, most native speakers you get off the street
will test in around 3, or 4 if they're super into their language and professional
fields. After a while, the ILR scale doesn't measure fluidity in language, but rather
'professional' and 'high vocabulary, expression' standards. Try searching for a video
of a guy testing a 5 ILR in English, and let me know if you think you could do the same
off the top of your head, because I sure couldn't. That's sort of why I'm not a huge
fan of the scaling system. It doesn't take fluidity much into account; you could speak
just like any high school student in your target language and never pass a 2 on that
scale, easily.
My current Korean program makes me take too many of these ILR oral proficiency
examinations for me to have an unbiased view, but there are my gripes with that.
4 persons have voted this message useful



liddytime
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United States
mainlymagyar.wordpre
Joined 4663 days ago

693 posts - 1328 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician
Studies: Hungarian, Vietnamese, Modern Hebrew, Norwegian, Persian, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 23 of 35
26 June 2011 at 11:23pm | IP Logged 
@Po-ru and @Leurre. That is refreshing reassurance!

To be honest, so far ( after less than a month of serious study no less) it doesn't seem so much "difficult" as it is
"complex". Its complexity is what makes it interesting to me. I know there is some debate about its origins, but
its grammar (so far) really reminds me of Turkish. Turkish with honorifics and without vowel harmony!

I am in process of moving to Oregon to a city with a sizable Korean population. There are several Korean
restaurants and a Korean club that meets weekly to learn Korean. I hope to use these to further my competency.

I'm curious. Which courses did you find the most useful? Right now I'm using Pimsleur ( mainly to get a grasp on
pronunciation) and the FSI course (up to Unit 4). I don't know whether to try Integrated Korean since it seems to
go to an advanced level.

Thanks for your input!   Chenmal-Khamshamnida!
1 person has voted this message useful



Po-ru
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3914 days ago

173 posts - 235 votes 
Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: Korean, Spanish, Norwegian, Mandarin, French

 
 Message 24 of 35
27 June 2011 at 6:20am | IP Logged 
liddytime wrote:
@Po-ru and @Leurre. That is refreshing reassurance!

To be honest, so far ( after less than a month of serious study no less) it doesn't
seem so much "difficult" as it is
"complex". Its complexity is what makes it interesting to me. I know there is some
debate about its origins, but
its grammar (so far) really reminds me of Turkish. Turkish with honorifics and without
vowel harmony!

I am in process of moving to Oregon to a city with a sizable Korean population. There
are several Korean
restaurants and a Korean club that meets weekly to learn Korean. I hope to use these
to further my competency.

I'm curious. Which courses did you find the most useful? Right now I'm using Pimsleur
( mainly to get a grasp on
pronunciation) and the FSI course (up to Unit 4). I don't know whether to try
Integrated Korean since it seems to
go to an advanced level.

Thanks for your input!   Chenmal-Khamshamnida!


Korean grammar is very similar to Turkish and Japanese. Honestly, in terms of Korean
material, I was quite disappointed. Pimsleur is good for a few things. I actually
completed both levels. FSI course, I am still on the fence about. I got to about
lesson 10 and found it a bit dry and not progressive enough, but I am starting to get
back into it now.

Honestly I like Dr.Arguelle's book, a Book called Korean for Foreigners by GANADA, and
College Korean. Other than those I am still looking for good courses.

Definitely don't get discouraged and set back by what seems a lack of progress. This
can be said for any language, but after studying several languages myself, I can
honestly say Korean has been the biggest challenge.   


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