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Korean course - worth doing?

[deactivated user]

    Hi all,

    I already speak a little Korean and know Hangul and was really excited to do the Korean course on Duolingo. However, I've seen a lot of negative reactions to this course. Do you think it's worth doing or should I wait until it's out of Beta?


    October 19, 2017



    It's totally worth doing. It is a challenge to learn if you're up for the challenge.


    It depends on your goals and how generous you want to be with your time. DL needs people to take the course and make suggestions for improvment, but there are many free courses on line by which you will learn more and learn faster. The course is frustrating because of an abundance of errors both in English and in Korean, and many of the examples are foolish. In my opinion, the attempts at humor by the developers are childish and detract from the course. I didn't quite finish, as when the opportunity to type in Hangul appeared (about 10 lessons from the end) I decided to go back through to see if earlier lessons had been revised and to compile notes in an effort to help, rather than give in to the temptation to leave DL.

    Since you know Hangul, you can challenge that part, which will save some frustration, as several of us have counseled folks to learn Hangul first at some other site (at least 4 or 5 good courses on Youtube) I am hoping to find a way to communicate directly with rhe team, but until then will use the Korean forums. Following are my observations on the first unit:

    Suggestions for Duolingo Korean Course Alphabet notes.

    으 is really not like the short “u” in “ugh”. It is more like the “u” in put” or the double “o” in “wood”, or the “ou” in “would” or “should”

    어 is often not that similar to the “u” in “gut”. Of course, folks have different pronunciations and dialects, but I think the “o” in “order” or “orbit” is much closer. The key is not to round the lips, and let the sound come from the back of the mouth. I am not familiar with the English pronunciation of “yogurt” so that may be accurate.

    의 is not “we” (pronounced like the English word, which is the intimation after the examples of “bed” just prior.) You later correctly point out that 위 is pronounced “wi” which is basically the same if “we” is an English word rather than a phonetic representation. (and of course, would be even farther off as a phonetic representation)

    Lesson 1: Why not give students the option of typing hangul right from the start, using either an audio clue or the Romanized representation of the sound. (rather than the multiple-choice blocks)

    Lessons 2,3,4. Same comment. If folks are really interested in learning the language, they should want to learn how to type and spell in the language. If the concern is with availability of the appropriate keyboard, it could at least be given as an option.

    Lesson 5 .와 pronunciation is not quite right. It sounds like a non-native seeing the 아 part of the dipthong almost like an English “short a”

    Lesson 6 “외” = “oe” I’ve already pointed out the inconsistency for “의”, as generally the course seems to use romanization in an attempt to depict the pronunciation, but is not the case for either 외” or “의”. “외” actually sounds much closer to the English word “way”

    [deactivated user]

      Thanks for all of the info. Can you recommend other online courses?


      Check out some of the links in this discussion post https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24299910


      There are a lot of mistakes in the course. Even though I am a native speaker, it's still hard.


      Course commentary

      Alphabet 2

      Good notes, except clarification is needed for the sound of 밟. I wasn’t aware that the “ㅂ” is not pronounced in “밟다” if that is indeed the case. But I am sure it is pronounced when the verb is conjugated with an ending, so think that needs clarification-- 밟아요.

      Lesson 1. 도 is poorly pronounced. The 오 is not “round” enough.

      루 is very poorly pronounced. The initial sound is more like ㄷ and the vowel sounds like 으., so that “루” is being pronounced “드”.

      Both 도 and 루 are mispronounced throughout the lessons (on more than one exercise)

      Using not-existent letter combinations to teach the alphabet should be reconsidered

      썌. The “ㅆ” and the “야” can be demonstrated in so many real combination. It is a disservice to the students to plant an impossible image in their minds.

      Many have commented on asking for 노래 to be translated multiple times. 5 really seems excessive, and It doesn’t seem like a very effective way to teach. There should be some elapsed time between subsequent presentations of the word to test recall.

      The pronunciation of the 어 in 너 is not native.

      Alphabet 2 Lesson 2.

      밟 is pronounced 발 by the speaker while bap is offered as the correct answer.

      보 is poorly pronounce (more than once—I suppose the same recording is used for each presentation of the letter combination)

      져 is poorly pronounced (as if the speaker is matching the sound as depicted with romanization, rather than an actual native pronunciation.

      I don’t think 뽸 exists in Korean, so why use it?

      개미 is poorly pronounced, both the vowel sound and the stress on the last syllable, and the same criticism applies as to the prior objection to repeating 노래 5 times. Translating 개미 5 times was extremely non-productive as well as annoying.

      Alphabet 2 Lesson 3. 톤 is pronounced poorly. It is being pronounced like the English word “ton.”

      Why is the 외 in 최 represented differently than the 외 presented earlier. Now we are offered a representation of the spelling rather than the pronunciation. The course needs to be consistent. The real solution to this situation, which would be far more conducive to learning the language, is to never force the student to type using romanization. Dictate the sound (with a romanization written depiction if you must) for the first 2 or 3 units, and have the students produce the appropriate hangul spelling, or representation of the sound. Romanization should only be used for a very limited time of familiarization with the Korean alphabet.

      츄,툐 do not exist in the language

      캬 does exist, but I could find only one example in the whole dictionary, so it seems an ill-advised choice.

      With “퍠” you ask “What sound does this make”. But the answer, “pyae”, is a presentation of the Romanized spelling, not the sound. Again, I commend to you the “real solution” suggested above.

      Again, presenting a word (Tokyo) 5 times for translation is not helpful.

      Alphabet 2 Lesson 4

      끠 does not exist, and if it did, “kkui” would not be a good representation of the pronunciation, so it is a terrible example. You have corresponded “u” with 우, so how does it make sense to also correspond “u” with 으?

      또 is poorly pronounced.

      썌 does not exist, and there are likely not more than 4 words using 쌔, so this is also a poor example.

      You are teaching “spelling” rather than “what does this sound like” and using the flawed basis of non-existent letter combinations.

      똬 I believe 똬리 is the only word in the dictionary using this combination.

      Neither 쎼 nor 쎄 exist.

      Seeds of dissent are sprouting over the 5th repetition of 씨.

      Alphabet 2 Lessons 5 & 6

      None of the following “letters” / dipthongs exist: 뽸, 쪄 (poorly pronounced if it did exist), 쭤, 쬐


      Continuing suggestions for course improvement, I would like to add the following comments to a post by ireirreir https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24940239

      Alphabet 3. Transferring back and forth on the keyboard between Hangul and English is tedious. It would be nice if the questions were set up so that only one change was needed per exercise, or, better yet, double the number of exercises to provide separate ones for translation to each language. No other suggestions on “loan words” except that a few more examples would be nice.

      Basic Notes An expansion of the notes would be welcome, especially more examples. It also seems that glossaries or vocabulary tables would be helpful.

      The first sentence regarding 이다 should be moved down to where the “copula” is introduced and then more examples given immediately after presentation. It is frustrating for the learner to have something presented with no immediate followup. Explanation and examples should follow immediately after presentation.

      When bringing up the particles, it would seem natural to list a few and explain the sentence functions.

      Rather than the heading “THE” , “ARTICLES” would be more appropriate. A better explanation might be “context is necessary to determine whether, “a”, “the”, or no article at all is appropriate to the English translation.”

      “AND” This is a very unclear explanation. What does “one common piece” mean? Are you saying that “and” is a word common to both languages? If so, it is not clear. An alternative might be, “There are many ways in Korean to express the conjunction that translates to “and” in English. It would also be helpful to show the examples in pairs –넘자와 여자

      For “Topic and Subject” the explanation is very misleading. A subject marker can be used even when there is no “action” Rather than making what sounds like an absolute statement concerning the topic marker, consider inserting “can” The topic marker can be used for emphasis, contrast, or limitation.

      “저 (meaning "I") becomes 제 before the subject particle 가.” This statement has no relation to topic particles, so doesn’t belong here.

      The sentences used as an attempt to clarify the usage of the topic and subject particles do not accomplish that purpose. It would be better to refer the students to a better source or to cover the subject in more detail. The translations offered are certainly not the only possible interpretations of the example sentences contrasting the topic and subject particles. It might even be a good idea to state that the topic is frequently the subject, meaning there may be no subject marker in a sentence, or that sometimes either marker could be used, and that it usually takes time for Korean learners to fully understand the use of the topic markers.

      의 also needs a better explanation. It seems like it would be appropriate to bring up “possessive” here, and the fact that it often has the function of an English apostrophe.


      Try the Korean Lingodeer course

      [deactivated user]

        This looks great-- thanks!


        If you speak and read Korean a bit already, this course which is now in the beta version might not enough to enhance your current skill. I have no idea about your fluency, but it seems to me that various examples and more feasible translations would be needed for intermediate level or higher. However, it's a good practice for sure anyway, isn't it.


        its only worth doing ifyou already have a masters degree in korean grammar


        ahahaha that's how i feel right now too T_T


        https://www.duolingo.com/comment/25293954 for a post that will make the course more worthwhile

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