Saturday, March 6, 2010

Korean or Japanese?


I've been keen on trying to learn another language for a while now. Since Finnish is not happening (still cannot count to 10...) I've been thinking a lot about Japanese or Korean. I think Japanese would be the most natural choice, seeing that the Japanese characters are often the same or at least similar to Chinese (even though the meaning differs). However, I'm a huge fan of Korea and Koreans, so that's what I'm leaning towards. Anyone who's had the experience of learning either language that can give some hints or recommendations? 

When I was in Seoul back in 2008 and spoke to a local he told me that if I could speak Chinese (which I could not do that well at that point -but he didn't know that) Korean wouldn't be too hard to learn, especially not the reading and writing part. Their words and pronunciations, however... Well, it will be a challenge I'm sure. 

Another decision to make -do I study at a school (evening classes) or do I get myself a private Korean tutor? A tutor would be comfortable, then again I'm kind of a fan of the classroom environment, especially in the beginning of learning a new language.  

Finally -do I have time for all this? Definitely not! But that's the beauty of it all. 

10 comments:

조안나 said...

Korean is probably easier than Japanese. There's only one writing system to use, with fewer letters than Japanese. Japanese and Korean have similar grammatical structures, so learning one could be a good base for learning the other in the future. Japanese would probably be more useful, but personally, I'm a fan of Korean myself.

You'll find that the basic grammar is quite simple, the first 6 months of studying is all quite simple grammar that you can use often. Once you get to an intermediate level you might find yourself bogged down with hundreds of tenses that mean more or less the same thing as another thing, with a slightly different nuance. Every language has this, but Korea has to use these things to conjugate their verbs, which makes it difficult. Anyway, basic conversation is easy to achieve in Korean. It's becoming fluent that seems to be most people's problem...

As far as knowing Chinese? It won't help you at all with grammar or pronunciation, but about half the words are based on Chinese characters and so sound similar to the word in Chinese. You'll pick up vocabulary very quickly (just the grammar will take much longer)

Songlynx said...

Hey Jonna,

I've studied (am studying) Korean using the Rosetta Stone series, and I love it! The characters very simple (esp. compared to chinese or japanese script), and each of the 24(?) characters has an equivalent english letter and sound(like b/p/ch, etc). You can easily write most English words using Korean script.

As far as the asian languages go I think it's probably the easiest, and speaking is pretty simple too (helps to be immersed of course)...

There's my 2cents!

Chad said...

I'm in favor of Japanese, since I had lived in Osaka for a bit.

I liked the language - never did learn to read past the Hiragana and Katakana (basic alphabet, not the kanji).

W

TWINGLE said...

Interesting what is your aim in learning languages?
Why not try Hebrew it is the language of a people as ancient or older than the Chinese. Now thats a challange for something different my Mum was born in China and learnt Hebrew yrs after mastering other languages. I was in Finland couldn't master it either somehow even though its unrelated thought is would be easier for a Swede.

wanglu said...

I took one term classes learning Japanese back to high school period. Many people said Chinese is hard to learn compare to Japanese or Korean. I agree with that, languages are beautiful, I met a Canadian guy who has been in China for 2 years and I was amazed by his fluent mandarin!

Jonna Wibelius said...

조안나 -thanks for your useful tips!! I know Japanese would prob b more useful, but then again, if there would be another Asian country where I would want to live -it would b Korea!! So in that sense, Korea is more useful to me.

Songlynx -Thanks! Ill look into the Rosetta Stone series for sure.

Chad -Think I'm leaning towards Korean...

Twingle -I think it would b fun to live in Korea one day.. hence my interest in the language. Also, not that many Swedes that can speak Korean language. Have to make myself unique :)

Wanglu -One would hope that Chinese is the hardest one.. then thinks could only get easier from here.

Nathan Cain - MandarinMnemonics.com said...

Why is Finnish not working for you?

pilgrimchick said...

Wow--that's quite a choice. I think it would depend upon how you would like to use those languages--do you see yourself in Korea or Japan, or interacting with more people from either of those countries?

kanmuri said...

Although the Korean language has borrowed a lot of words from Chinese over the centuries and still sometimes uses the kanji, the writing system and the pronunciation are totally different from Chinese. The grammar is also more complex. It is supposed that Japanese and Korean have the same ancestor, which differs from the Chinese and other Asian languages. So on the grammar side, Japanese and Korean are similar. Knowing kanji sure helps reading Japanese but hangul, the Korean alphabet, is simpler. There are more vowels in Korean than in Japanese, so you need to be more flexible.

Personally, I would recommend Korean. Maaaany people (too many) learn Japanese and I think there are more opportunities with Korean than with Japanese.

If you choose to learn Japanese, just let me know. I can recommend good websites and textbooks.

annie hall said...

I vote for Korean! I've had a Korean friend teach me some Korean, and it's MUCH easier than learning Chinese was(is)! I really like the fact that Korean is phoenetic -- unlike Chinese (usually), you can actually figure out how to pronounce a word just by looking at how it is spelled!