Korean is not the first language that I started learning that had a different script. In high school, I went through an eight-month period where I tried teaching myself Japanese. I started off by successfully learning two of the writing systems: hiragana and katakana. Having learned three different writing systems after having learned hangeul, I can say that learning a different alphabet is not as hard as you would think. People would widen their eyes when I told them that I was studying Japanese or Korean.
“Isn’t it so hard? They don’t even use the same alphabet!”
All the people who have said this to me are people who are too intimidated to try learning it themselves. They won’t even attempt it because they think it is all memorization and that it is too hard. After having done it three times, I can say I disagree. At first, there is a little bit of memorization to get familiar with how the characters look, but learning a new alphabet requires more application than memorization. You will get to the point where you aren’t even thinking to read a word anymore, just as you did when you grew up learning how to write your first language. Since this post is about hangeul, here are a couple of my favorite apps to learn the alphabet. I would also suggest looking into an alphabet song on YouTube.
This cute app was recommended by a YouTuber that I watch. I recently found out that PopPopping Korean also makes short videos on Korean conversation that are GREAT for beginners! I would highly recommend watching these videos after you start learning basic phrases. As you can see from the picture, you have three sections to choose from, all of them being equally helpful. Hangeul pronunciation is great for Korean phonetics. You can choose a vowel, consonant, syllable, or really any combination of characters to know how they get pronounced. What I like about this is that they show a picture of the mouth so that you see where your tongue should be when you pronounce the symbol. Rhythm hanguel helps build vocabulary and secrets of hangeul gives you the history of hangeul. The best part is: PopPopping Korean does not cost a thing!
I love love LOVE this app for learning languages, specifically vocabulary. I think it makes a great supplement to any resources you are using. I have used it to learn the 450 most common verbs in French, hangeul, and now Korean vocabulary from the lessons at TTMIK. Each word you learn is a seed that gets planted. You water the words you know and eventually they grow into a flower, which means that you officially learned the word. It uses a spaced repetition system, alerting you after a certain period of time that you need to review (or “water”) the words that you have learned to keep them fresh in your mind. What I also like about this app is that contributors will add cute pictures or phrases, mnemonics, that will help you better remember the word you use.
9gag has a great lesson on learning to read Korean in 15 minutes. This was the first thing I looked at when I started learning hangeul to help me better learn and remember the characters. I would recommend looking at this in addition to using memrise and PopPopping Korean.
Check out this video I made on tips to learn other scripts! These tips will help you reinforce what you learn in addition to what resources you may be using. I hope this makes your learning easier and encourages you to no longer be afraid of learning a new writing system!