Why Can't My Kids Learn English
I was watching my class today, and have been wondering lately, after getting back from Thailand, "Why is it that Koreans speak such poor English?" My theory lies three fold.
- Lack of Idioms - When a Korean wants to say, "It's easy" they say "It's easy" not "It's a piece of cake". Idioms are a major part to conversational English and all the children try to learn them but I think they have trouble grasping the idea of an idiom because their language has so few.
- Lack of emotional adjectives - There are very fews words for excitability or anger in Hangul. In English I can think of 50 different words to say if I were angry or happy or pissed or just slightly pissed or in love etc.... They have maybe 3 words each for these categories. Emotion is probably the major adjective maker, and English prides itself on not only having many adjectives but also incorporating other languages adjectives as well. Hangul does not do this and hence they have trouble expressing themselves in multiple hues of emotion. They learn very few emotional words. For example someone is sad both when another dies or when one is sick or when one has a bad day at work.
- Alphabet - Hangul is a beautiful and scientific alphabet. It is regaurded by some (including chomsky) as being the most efficient alphabet. Hangul is all rules and the rules are never broken. Children by the age of 3 can read Hangul and it took me maybe 2 weeks to learn it. All the sounds are pronounced the same all of the time and this differs greatly from the Roman alphabet we use. For example, the "ea" sound has 4 sounds(break, heard, bread, read), the letter "I" can have 3 (ski, sit, site). I know that there are rules for most cases of these sounds but the rules are often broken. Take the letter "g" for instance "Gum" sounds like the real letter g should sound "guh- um" but then show a kid giraffe and try to explain why it's a "j" sound. It has to be frustrating to Koreans who want to learn our crazy ass language. I think the world should speak hangul sometimes.