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Unique tips to learn Hangul!

Hey, guys! I was just answering a question about hangul, and as someone who started out with hangul instead of romanization (fine for the average non-speaker, not fine for language learners!) and greatly recommend learning it, I answer a lot of fellow learners' questions elsewhere online (since it's the one area you can actually really quickly master even as a beginner).

I'm going to give a few examples of the mnemonics I used to help myself memorize the alphabet. I don't have one for every letter (I had to brute force memorize quite a few and those were definitely much harder to remember at first!) so feel free to post your own! I found a few of these from artist Ryan Estrada's info graphic "Learn to Read Korean in Fifteen Minutes." (Link: http://www.ryanestrada.com/learntoreadkoreanin15minutes/)

Random tips before we begin: This may sound frustrating, but sometimes a letter may make 2 sounds depending on where it's found in a word. For example, at the beginning of a word, it will sound stronger than at the end (the ending letter will be softer and a little less loud). Also, the letter ㅅcan sound like Sh when combined with a vowel like ㅣ, for example. The asterisks after letters represent this!

Let's go!


||ㅂ= a b/p sound = imagine a bucket! The tallest lines are the sides, the middle line can either be the water inside, or a handle-- your choice.|| ㅈ= j = Looks like you're spreading both your arms and legs out in a jumping jack.|| ㄷ= d/t = a door! Imagine a little doorknob.|| ㄱ = g/k = imagine a little water gun|| ㅅ = s/t (at end of word) = it looks like a mountain (산/san). || ㄴ = N = a very sharp nose!|| ㅇ= no sound/ng = this letter is kind of a wild card! Before a vowel, it's silent. At the end of a word, it makes an "ng" sound. I drew a flashcard and stylized this letter as a magnifying glass (to represent the hidden sound and also the ng in magnifying).|| ㄹ = between r and l = a rattlesnake. Don't worry about pronunciation now if you can't get it! Just learn less toward a hard R and make it a bit softer until you can practice well (ignore if you have an accent that makes your R's softer anyway!)|| ㅎ = H = a hat! Imagine the circle to be a head, and the lines on top to be a traditional Korean hat.|| ㅋ = harder than the ㄱ sound, more of a K sound = I drew a really dumb one for this one, but I just added a weird face on top and an extra line on the bottom to look like a foot, then drew a ball and made it look like it was kicking something. (You gotta just try sometimes, okay? XD)|| ㅌ = T = Honestly, the mnemonic I used to use was really confusing and made me mess up. What I'll suggest to you though, is this letter looks like a test tube, sort of. Just imagine the bottom a little longer and the sides filled in. || ㅊ = ch = Make this guy a person, chilling out. || ㅍ= p/b = from Ryan Estrada, imagine a Part 2 symbol! ||

ㅛ = yo = kind of looks like a grumpy little face that might bark out "yo!" to get your attention (I tried). || ㅕ= yeo = See ㅓ below and just add a "y" sound to it because of the extra line. || ㅑ= ya = See ㅏ below and just add a "y" sound. || ㅐ= romanized as ae= kind of looks like a TIE fighter from Starwars to me, so imagine two pilots in a cockpit of one. One makes a mistake flying and the other makes this sound in chastisement: "[h]eyyyyyy." || ㅔ = eh (I think this is romanized as e on duolingo though) = suggestions. || ㅗ = o = "yo" without the extra line that represents the y sound. || ㅓ= eo = a guy holding a tiny dagger grunting ("eo!") as he practices. || ㅏ= a = kind of looks like the shapes your lips and your tongue make when you're saying the word, just vertical instead of horizontal (most vowels actually are meant to look like this but it's not as easy to remember as this one!) || ㅣ= ee = draw leaves on top. Boom. A tree. || ㅠ = yoo/yu = lots of Koreans, when online, use this letter all by itself to look like eyes while crying. Just say this out loud a few times in a crying voice and boom, you got it. || ㅜ = oo = the infamous letter that I thiiiink inspired the Kpop group Twice's song, TT. It looks like it's crying too like it's sibling ㅠ. || ㅡ = eu = this one is a hard one to pronounce! We don't have a sound like this at all in English. But the memorization is really easy-- it looks like the way your lips will while saying it. Ryan Estrada says it looks like a "brOOk" but the pronunciation is a bit different--good while first learning though!

Did I miss any? Do you have any ideas yourself? Any questions? Feel free to ask!

January 4, 2018

1 Comment


This was beyond helpful. It did not go unnoticed. I was looking for a cheat code like this and you delivered. Thank you for that. I appreciate it a lot. Please note your way of looking at Hangul has helped me remember the characters. I appreciate you. 감사합니다

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