Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Korean project : Reading problems

En français
I was wondering why after 8 months of studying Korean my reading is still so poor, when I see myself understand better written Japanese and Chinese after only few weeks of learning kanjis.
And then it strucks me, that was so obvious, I had the answer in front of me since the beginning and I couldn't see it.
And the answer is VOCABULARY. Of course I knew that I lack of vocabulary, the problem was how to really deal with that.
The answer, learn Korean vocabulary as I'm learning the kanjis, that is building up a complete set of words that I'm going to learn by heart.
If the answer wasn't so obvious is probably because in the original method it is said that we should learn sentences and not words, so that we also learn how to use those words, so I was focusing on sentences.
But Korean is a phonetic language, so you can read phonetically first and then know the meaning of the words, in contrary to languages written with Chinese characters.
So that's an idea. I'm not saying that it is the best idea ever and that it's gonna work 100 % but I'm going to give it a try.
The words that I'm going to include in my basic set of vocabulary come from here.
That is a list of 1750 French words a 4 year old kid is supposed to know. It's probably not the same for Korean kids but it's diversified so that mustn't be a problem for a kick start.
Anyway, I'm so desperate to improve my Korean that I would do any thing.

A second idea is to use my new knowledge of kanjis to learn Korean vocabulary from hanjas. Hanja is the name given to the Chinese characters used for Korean. That for I can use Neo Hanja, the first one give 1525 words written in hangul and one hanja, the second give 240 compounds. But I think I first need to finish heisig 1 because they are written in completely arbitrary order, or more exactly given in the order of the proficiency test from level 5 to 3.
Level 5 is giving the writing of characters used for study purposes. and level 3 allows one to read newspapers and general subject material. A list of the hanja by level can be find here.

Anyway, I really need to read more to become good at reading.


  1. It seems you've misread that chart. Level 3 is what a high-school graduate is expected to know, which isn't much. Level 5 is basically for elementary- or middle-school students.

  2. I don't really understand what you are saying : according to the web site I link here, Level 5 gives :
    읽기 500자, 쓰기 300자, 학습용 한자 쓰기를 시작하는 급수
    which is the level you need to begin your study.
    Level 3 gives : 읽기 1,817자, 쓰기 1,000자, 신문 또는 일반 교양어를 읽을 수 있는 수준
    level you need to read news paper and have a Japanese well educated level.
    Do you know something different ?

  3. By the way, 1817 Chinese characters seems to me to be a pretty decent amount of knowledge as we are not talking about the Chinese language here but Korean.

  4. So after further researches I come to the conclusion that we are talking about the same thing just formulating it differently.
    I think I will also be very happy to reach level 3, I mean to know the prononciation of so many characters in Korean. But I need to know what they mean first anyway, without thinking in which level they are.