Happy Hangul Day! Learn Korean!

© Cheese Curds and Kimchi

Today is a national holiday in Korea, celebrating Hangul, the language that brought literacy to the masses. (Go HERE to read a previous post about the history of Hangul.)

Here's a few highlights about Hangul:
  • Koreans refer to their language as Hangugeo.
  • Hangul was developed by King Sejong in 1446 and is the only written alphabet known to be developed by a single person. Korea is also the only known country to have a holiday to celebrate the creation of it's writing system.
  • Hangul characters can be written left to right, or top to bottom.
  • The written letters of the alphabet are based off of the mouth and tongue positions used to create the sounds of the letters.
{Image from Visit Korea website}
Cool huh? So today is the perfect time to share our efforts to learn to read/speak Korean in our house. As you know, this is a major part of Operation Adoption Process Survival as we wait for Little Brother.

On Saturday mornings we attend language and culture classes at a large Korean church about 35-minutes from our home. Most of the children who attend these classes are second generation Korean Americans. This year the school opened up a class for adoptive families too!

There are three families in our class and the teacher is no dummy...she has parents attend the class with the kids (as opposed to the traditional Korean families who don't attend with their children) to try and keep those restless three-year-olds wrangled. At this stage, it's important to teach the grown ups so that we can reinforce what the kids learned during the week.

My overachieving nature wants Little Man to pay attention during the entire class, but I realize this is just a ridiculous expectation. I remind myself often that the goal is for Little Man to get used to hearing Korean language and for us to learn what we can to help Little Brother's transition when he arrives. It often seems that Little Man isn't paying attention at all and then he'll shock us when he pipes up and says something in Korean. Really amazing and wonderful!

© Cheese Curds and Kimchi
We have made books with letters of the Korean alphabet and words that start with each letter. I also write in the phonetic pronunciations of the words so we can learn to say them.

The books are especially great during the week and we like to read them before bedtime. Teacher also records words and common phrases for us weekly, and we play the recordings at home or in the car. Little Man really likes that and I hear him repeating the words sometimes. She also has other fun class activities like tossing bean bags while counting in Korean, or Little Man's favorite...asking for and learning to receive kwaja (cookies).

We also learn a lot of cultural things in our class such as how to bow, history and traditions.

We try to use as much of our new language at home so that we can reinforce what we learned and it becomes a regular part of our speech. He regularly says please and thank you (unprompted), hello, and even insisted on counting in Korean. Fun.

Side note: When we were packing up Little Brother's care package we included a phone that could record a message. When I asked Little Man what we should say to Little Brother, he shouted out "Anyonghasseo!" which means "Hello". And so that's exactly what we did. Melt my heart!!

On the adult front, the local university finally offered Korean 1 classes again. Yippee!

First thing I learned is my brain is NOT as supple as it used to be. Holy smokes! Learning the words has been fairly easy, but learning the written language has been darned tough for my aged and sleep deprived brain to absorb.

The class is once a week, for 2/12 hours. There's a good chuck of homework so it's been a bit of a challenge, but oh, so worth it. Lots of fun! If you are interested in learning to speak Korean, I strongly recommend taking classes if at all possible. I have plenty of learning resources, but there are so many subtle pronunciations and sounds that are difficult to decipher which makes learning online or self-teaching incredibly hard (if not impossible). These subtle difference in pronunciations would make the difference between saying it's raining ('pee' with a soft 'p' sound) or blooding ('pee' with a hard 'P' sound).

Yikes. Massive room for error there. I predict many giggles from native speakers as I try to communicate.

Ready to get Hangul in your house?? 

HERE is a link to another great site for learning Korean and to get a good overview of the language.

CLICK HERE for a compilation of great resources for learning Korean that we have blogged about.

And you can meander on over to the left-side rail of this blog under the 'Korea-related links' to find more useful learning sites.


  1. I didn't realize you had this resource near you! Woohoo!! So, so happy that you are able to take advantage of this. And YES!! having a teacher to answer questions and to hear you speak makes a HUGE difference. And love, love LM saying hello to his brother in Korean. Totally awesome.

    Thanks for all the links too :)

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