To Prof Werner Sasse

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To Prof Werner Sasse Powered By Docstoc
					OSVÁTH, Gábor
College for Foreign Trade, Budapest
Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest

    Korean Language Teaching: On Some Problems of the Introductory Course

1. The aim of my paper is to introduce in a nutshell the present situation of Korean language
teaching in Hungary and then with the help of a comparison of different textbooks published
in Korea and other countries I want to analyse some critical points of the presentation of
Korean sound system and grammar during the introductory teaching process.
 The teaching of Korean – as an integral part of the curriculum – began in Hungary only in
1989. The Department of Oriental Languages at the College for Foreign Trade – where
Chinese, Japanese and Arabic had already been taught before – realised that the rapid
economic development of the Republic of Korea and the establishment of diplomatic relations
between Hungary and the ROK demanded the training of experts who are familiar with the
Korean language and culture and the business attitude of the Korean people.
In 1997 the biggest university in Hungary, namely the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) also
began its Korean studies, but the number of language classes is too low there; the emphasis is
laid on the historical, cultural and religious studies which are taught in Hungarian. The course
there can be considered a part of some kind of preparation towards the development of an
independent Korean Language and Culture Department in the future.
For the students of the Business Administration Faculty of the College for Foreign Trade the
study period is 6 semesters and to obtain the diploma (B.A degree) they have to study
obligatory at least two foreign languages. The Korean – like other Oriental languages – can be
learned as a second foreign language, the first one is learned from the elementary or secondary
school. As far as I know our institution is the only one in Europe where business Korean is
The purpose of our curriculum is to reach only the intermediate level, but the students have to
acquire some business Korean, too. Over the 3 year period of teaching, only 600 classes can
be achieved (4 x 2 classes a week) and this number seems to be too low. The Korean Foreign
Service Institute of the Department of State put the minimum professional proficiency level as

follows: average aptitude will take 1000 to 1200 hours 6 to 7 months of intensive study) while
Chinese, Japanese and Korean take 25 months of intensive study, that is 4375 hours (Kim
Jacob 1987: 46). Professors who consider Korean extremely difficult, do so, mainly because
of the Chinese characters. Nevertheless I think the knowledge of the hangǔl (which is very
easy to learn) makes written communication possible with Koreans. At our college the
knowledge of the Chinese characters is not included in the requirements of the final
examinations, but in the process of teaching Korean we have to find some time to introduce
the basic principles of Chinese characters to students and thus enable them to read daily
newspapers, too, after acquiring the technics of looking up the unknown characters in the
character dictionary even if with some difficulty.
Communicative competence requires the knowledge of some basic information about the
culture which is behind the target language. It is the very reason why we taught Korean history
and geography in Hungarian in the first 3 semesters (2 classes a week).
The purpose of our teaching is to introduce our students not only the Korean language but –
through the Korean language – also the Korean culture and the basic features of the
communication practices and mentality of Korean businessmen. The classes connected with
the language teaching are as follows: Basic Korean, Business Korean (basic terminology
economy), Reading of Business Newspapers, Business Communication (both written and oral

The curriculum (15 weeks per semester)
1st semester:   General course of Korean (6 classes)
                Korean history, geography and culture (2 classes)
                Business Korean (2 classes)
2nd semester:   General course of Korean (6 classes)
                Korean history, geography and culture (2 classes)
                Business Korean (2 classes)
3rd semester:   General course of Korean (4 classes)
                Korean history, geography and culture (2 classes)
                Business Korean (2 classes)
4th semester:   General course of Korean (6 classes)
                Reading of business newspapers (2 classes)
5th semester:   General course of Korean (4 classes)

                 Business Korean ( 2 classes)
                 Written business communication (2 classes)
6th semester:    General course of Korean (4 classes)
                 Business Korean (2 classes)
                 Oral business communication (2 classes)
2. A good textbook is one of the most important conditions of effective language teaching. In
   1996 the „Koreai nyelv alapfokon I-II’. (Basic Korean for Hungarian Learners I-II.) was
   published at our institute. Earlier we used textbooks made in Korea (Chong 1986, Park
   1984). The arrangement of material in those textbooks is more suitable for those whose
   native language is English. Because of some similarities between Korean and Hungarian
   we realized if we arrange the material in a different way we can progress much more
   rapidly in teaching, especially in the first phase.
  The main similarities between Korean and Hungarian are as follows:
 The vowel harmony (it is more characteristic of Hungarian).
 The agglutinative character (case endings and postpositions instead of prepositions in
 The order of endings: stem of noun + suffix + plurar marker +case ending (차기들을 ‟rúg-
 The word order. The basic word order is SOV in Hungarian, too; the order of the attribute
   and the noun following it (also in the possessive relationship: 학생의 펜 ‟a diák tolla‟), the
   order of the date, home address, family name + given name, personal name + profession or
   title (김 씨 ‟Kim úr‟, 김 교수님 „Kim professzor úr‟), etc.
 The verb to be can express possession: 나에게는 자가용이 있다 „Nekem van autóm‟
 The lack of grammatical gender (Hungarian pronoun ő = English he and she)
 The tendency to avoid the personal pronoun (어디 가십니까? ‟Hova megy?‟)
 The use of singular after numerals
 In the sentence the adverbial part can become an attribute (similar to the Korean 친구와의
   싸움 „baráttal való veszekedés‟
Nevertheless there is a lot of very significant differences between the two languages which are
big obstacles during the teaching process, namely the very different sound system of this two
languages (for example the standard Hungarian has not any diphtongs), the developed
honorific system of Korean , the sentence endings of Korean (and consequently the very strict

word order), the obligatory use of classificators in Korean, the expression of modality in
Korean, the difference in the structure of complex sentences, especially the lack of
subordinate conjuctions in Korean, the lack of infinitive in Korean, etc.
The main principles of the textbook are as follows:
        the book must give the students the feeling that after the first lesson they can
          already communicate in Korean a little. This feeling must become stronger and
          stronger after every lesson;
        the book must serve the goal that during the teaching process the teacher must speak
          Korean as much as possible. To accomplish this goal instructions must be given in
          Korean in the book where it is possible;
        each new word and expression must be repeated many times in the text and
        the texts must be constructed in a very logical and interesting way so that the
          students could retell the contents of the story and later adapt it to their personal life
          and individual circumstances.

2.1. Some lessons drawn from the preparation and teaching the Basic Korean textbook

2.1.1. There are different opinions on the sound value and status of the vowel phonemes /ö/
and /ü/ (monophtongs or diphtongs?) in Korean books on phonology and accordingly in
different textbooks made in Korea and elsewhere. According to the most frequent definitions
these two phonemes are „ ...monophtongs (...) however many Korean people habitually
pronounce them as wi and we (Park 1984: 24); or „...they are diphtongs, but among
conservative speakers in the central district we notice ö . It would be proper that there exist
ü to form a pair with ö in the system of vowels in persons who have the labial mentioned
just now. However it is not easy to find one who has the vowel ü ” (Kim Wan-jin 1983:
158–159). “I suggest enlisting these two phonemes to the group of diphtongs because the
process of rediphongization has already finished in the speech of absolute majority of Korean
speakers and it was declared standard pronunciation” (Lee 1989). My personal observation is
that the same process happened in Pyongyang speech, too. Both South and North Korean
students learning Hungarian /ü/ and /ö/ pronounced them as diphtongs and it was very difficult
to change their pronunciation habits.

The main features of the treatment of the above mentioned vowels in the textbooks are as
          no distinction is made between monophtongs and diphtongs at all;
          both sounds are mentioned as monophtongs (Hangugo 1972);
          both sounds are mentioned as diphtongs (Lee 1989);
          both sounds are mentioned as diphtongs with the notice that many people
           pronounce them as diphtongs; the influence of dialects is often mentioned (P‟yǒnsu
           charyo 1988);
       the /ö/ is a diphtong, and the /ü/ also, but the latter must be pronounced as a
           monophtong in some words: „In modern spoken Korean /ü/ is sometimes enunciated
           as a single vowel, e.g. 뒤 tü, 쥐 chü and in other cases as a diphtong, e.g.귀 kwi,
           위 wi” (Chang 1982: 332);

       the /ö/ is mentioned as a monophtong but the /ü/ as a diphtong: „as Köln”, „as
           wield” (Jones 1982: 8).
          the /ö/ is a monophtong and the /ü/ also, but in slow speech or when it is stressed
           the (ü) can be pronounced as a diphtong (Chosǒnmal 1971: 262).

2.1.2. According to the majority of textbooks the verb stem + -da form (kada, oda, etc.) is
mentioned only as the dictionary form of verbs (Park 1990). Some textbooks state that these
forms are infinitives (Kong 1989: 117, Shim 1995: 40). I think this view is not appropriate
because the kada form cannot play the role of English to go syntactically. Lukoff uses the
terminology „citation form of verbs” (Lukoff 82: 5). Students often raise the question: why
this form was appointed dictionary form and what is the original function of this grammatical
form? However they cannot find the answer to this question in the textbooks. Only one
textbook makes some allusion to the original function: „We may call it dictionary form
because it is used almost exclusively for dictionary entry” (Chang-Kim 1989: 107). According
to different descriptive grammar books the function of this form is very limited; they are used
only in chronological tables: 대자가 왕위에 오르다 t’aejaga wangwi-e orǔda (Ho ǔng 1995:
528). Nevertheless this form occurs in the titles of books, too: 땅끝으로 가다 Ttangkkǔt’ǔro
kada, 땅끝에서 오다 Ttangkkǔt’esǒ oda (Kim Won-il 1985). Im Ho-bing states that contrary to
other opinions this form can express tenses: 어머님이 어제 서울로 올라오시다. ǒmǒnimi ǒje
Sǒullo ollaošida. 정희가 내일 김포 공항을 떠나다. Jǒnghǔiga naeil Kimp’o konghangǔl

ttǒnada (Im 1998: 7–58). According to him the most important limitation of the so called
absolute clauses with verb is that they cannot function in discourse, the (b) cannot be an
answer to the question unlike the (c).
(a) Speaker: 아버님이 어디에 가시느냐. Abǒnimi odie kašinǔnya?
(b) Listener: *아버님이 시장에 가시다. *Abǒnimi šijange kašida.
(c) Listener: 아버님이 시장에 가십니다. Abǒnimi šijange kašimnida.
2.1.3. In the Korean discourse (and of course in the conversation of foreigners with Korean
people, too) the formal-polite -mnida/-sǔmnida and the informal-polite haeyo style are
considered the most important sentence endings. The question can be raised: which style must
be introduced first and why. I think it is more preferable to teach the formal -mnida/-sǔmnida
first and then the informal-polite haeyo style, because the latter is much more difficult for
foreigners. I teach the haeyo style parallelly with the past tense because of the common rules
of vowel harmony in both grammatical forms. For my greatest surprise I have noticed that –
contrary to the first edition – in the revised edition of Speaking Korean the introduction of the
haeyo style precedes the formal-polite style (Park: 1990). There is a gender difference in the
use of two endings: “Generally speaking, men use the formal speech style more often than the
informal speech style. On the other hand, women use the informal speech style more
frequently.” (Park1984: 58).
2.1.4. There is a big difference in Korean between spoken and written languages, so it is
preferable to put two texts parallelly in one lesson (one is in the written language style and the
other is in dialogue form which represents the spoken language). Abbreviated forms (준말 chunmal, 생략어 saengnyagǒ) play a very important role
mainly in spoken Korean, but they can appear in the written language, too. It would be very
important to systematize the abbreviated forms theoretically and then make a dictionary of
chunmal for student's use. One of the characteristic features of the spoken language is the lack of the
classificator, mostly in the case of low numbers (두 다리 tu tari „two legs‟) but we cannot find
detailed explanation of this phenomenon in different textbooks. The teaching of the number +
classificator (gen.) + noun form is also disputable because it is considered incorrect by many
Korean linguists („Western or Japanese influence”) others, consider it more formal; it is used
first of all in written style (No 1996: 48).
2.1.5. The great number of synonyms causes big difficulties in the teaching process ('life':
목숨 moksum, 삶 salm, 생명 saengmyǒng, 생활 saenghwal, 생애 saengae, 생전 saengchǒn,

etc.). The most important reason for this phenomenon is the Sino-Korean vocabulary. In
business Korean: 가격 kagyok, 물가 mulga, 값 kaps, 대가 taega, etc. 'price'. The textbooks
need more lexical explanation in this respect. The vocabulary of business Korean also has big
difficulties. The Korean equivalent of the Hungarian verb nõ illustrates this phenomenon
fairly well:

                                           자라다       charada
                             grow          성장하다 sǒngchang-hada (South)
                                           장성하다 changsǒng-hada (North)
Hungarian verb nõ
                                           늘다        nǔlda
                                           증가하다 chǔngga-hada

One of the probable reasons for the formation of this great number of synonyms is the strong
tendency of Korean to differentiate between concrete and abstract phenomena:

                           Abstract                             Concrete

                        자본 chabon                  자본금 cha(bon)gǔm „capital‟
                         대본 tebon                  대(본)금 tae(bon)gǔm „loan‟
                         금리 kǔmri                  이자 (r)ija „‟interest‟
                         주문 chumun                 주문서 chumunsǒ „order‟ (written
                         계약 kyeyak                 계약서 kyeyksǒ „contract‟ (written

2.1.6. To find the topic of a sentence is not an easy task in European languages, because these
languages – contrary to the Korean or Japanese – have not any explicit topic marker. For the
European students the existence of the topic marker (and the nominative case ending which is
also absent from most European languages) is a very uncommon phenomenon and makes even
the first lessons very difficult logically. The difficulties grow when the students realise that
under certain circumstances both endings can be omitted in colloquial speech.
The different textbooks select a large range of methods for differentiation and explanation of
the topic marker -nǔn/-ǔn and the nominative ending (or nominative case marker -ga/-i). As
for -nun/un the terminology „topic marker” (see Lukoff 1982: 9); became generally accepted,
but we can also find the name „contrast particle” in other textbooks (see Park-Pak 1975: 75;
Park 1984: 77; Hong 1991: 74). One textbook from Pyǒngyang uses a periphrastic form as
follows: „auxiliary ending which expresses the relation of indication. 나는 간다. Nanǔn
kanda. The auxiliary ending -nun expresses that no one other than I go. 하늘은 푸르다.
Hanǔrǔn p’urǔda. The auxiliary ending -ǔn expresses that nothing other than sky is blue”
(Chosǒnmal 1989: 245–246).
One of the shortcomings of the textbooks checked is that many of them implicitly identify the
topic marker with the nominative ending: ”-i/-ga are subject markers, as are ǔn/-nǔn. The
latter are used to contrast, compare or emphasise the subject.” (Chang 1982: 17). Nevertheless
the author adds that „-ǔn/-nǔn may be attached to objects and other parts of speech” but didn‟t
mention instances for students. One of the advantages of the above mentioned textbook that it
is the only one in which the nominative ending and the topic marker are introduced
simultaneously. This method seems to me the best because having only the conservative
teaching order (first the nominative ending and then the topic marker) it is almost impossible
to make coherent texts (both monologue and discourse forms). Many textbooks introduce the
different aspects of topic particle gradually, e.g. with the following order (Lukoff 1982): 1.
The topic of a sentence (p. 9), 2. The topic of a sentence implying the object (52 p.), 3. The
implication of contrast (pp. 74–76). My proposal concerning the methodological order of the
introduction of the nominative ending and topic marker is as follows:
1. Introducing the nominative ending and the topic marker simultaneously. It is almost
  impossible to produce a coherent text which without both the topic particle and the
  nominative ending.
2. Gradual unfolding of different aspects of the topic marker.

3. Detailed summary of the different aspects of the topic marker as a supplement to the
   textbook (together with other relevant phonological, grammatical or lexical information,
   e.g. phonological rules, irregular verbs, etc.).

2.1.7. My last critical observation is that the different textbooks neglect the introduction of the
verb goverment for the substitution of the conjunction „that” which is a characteristic feature
of European languages. In order to improve the efficiency of Korean syntax teaching I
compiled a Hungarian-Korean verb governement dictionary for student‟s use. (Osváth 1993).
The different ways of transformation of the following type play a central role in the dictionary:
사고를 숨기다. Sagorǔl sumgida > 사고가 났단 것을 숨기다. Sagoga nattanǔngosǔl sumgida.

(„to hide (the fact) of the accident‟ > „to hide that an accident happened‟).
The Korean Verb Dictionary (한국어 동사 구문 사전 Hangugǒ tongsa kumun sajǒn) which
was published by prof. Hong Chae-song and his team in 1996 can be very helpful both
theoretically and practically for new textbooks.


 (excerpt from the textbook Basic Korean I. written by G. Osvath translation from

           The use of the Korean topic particle and the nominative case marker

1.1.These two parties play a very important role in the formation of a text, i.e. for the
expression of the logical relationship between the sentences: the word with -ga/-i expresses
the new information for both the speaker and listener, while -nǔn/-ǔn expresses the old
information. The first sentence of the text can express the new information and this new
information is considered an already known, old information in the following sentences.

   학생이 옵니다. 그 학생은 한국사람입니다. 그는 헝가리에서 공부하고 있습니다.

1.2. In spite of above considerations it is possible to begin the text with the particle
     - nǔn/-ǔn which is attached to the subject. In this case we think of this word that it is
    already an old information. As the frequency, in the majority of cases, the subject takes
    the particle -nǔn/-ǔn and not -ga/-i.

    저는 학생입니다. 대학에서 공부합니다.

2.1. The particle -nǔn/-ǔn can express also a contrast between two utterances. It can have two
    logical levels:

     When we enunciate the first sentence, we don't think of the second one, the contrast to
     it. The logical momentum of the contrast follows only after some time for consideration.

    배가 아픕니다... 머리는 안 아픕니다.
    개를 좋아합니다... 고양이는 안 좋아합니다.

     In the moment of enunciating the first sentence we already think of the following one and
     the two sentences are contrasted automatically in the mind.
     In this case if we have two subjects in the sentence both of them can take the particle -nǔn
    -ǔn.The contrast of the two subjects (or objects, adverbial parts) doesn‟t mean that the
    words with particle -nǔn/-ǔn emphasized: the main (logical) emphasis is laid on the

    (저는) 배는 아픕니다. 머리는 안 아픕니다. → (저는) 배는 아프고 머리는 안 아픕니다.

    If the question without any question word takes the particles -to (‟also‟) or -man (‟only‟)
    the momentum of contrast is implicated. It is the reason why it is obligatory to use the
    -nǔn/-ǔn in the answer to it.

     김치도 있습니까?
     아닙니다. 김치는 없습니다.

     The case of the emphasized subject. That kind of the contrast is possible, too, when it is
     expressed with the help of the particle -ga/-i. In this case it is the subject which bears the
     logical emphasis, not the predicate. In the next dialogue two persons are speaking of
     Anne and Mary and their conversation is proceeding in the following way (the
     emphasized words are in bold type):

    안나는 기자입니까? Is Anne a journalist?
    아닙니다. 마리아가 기자입니다. No. It is Mary who is a journalist.

     Every question word is emphasized, consequently the question word of the subject, too.
     It means that the answer to it will be also emphasized and we have to use the particle -

    누가 옵니까?
    친구가 옵니다.

    무엇이 없습니까?
    맥주가 없습니다.

       The interrogative and undefinite pronouns (who, somebody etc.) can be morfologically
       identical in Korean. In this case we have to use the nominative case particle -ga/-i.

       누가 왔습니다.
       무엇이 떨어졌습니다.

     The denied word logically is always emphasized, so we have to use the particle -ga/-i.

       이것은 책이 아닙니다.
       그는 의사가 아닙니다.

       Nevertheless if we contrast the above sentence to an another one, a different solution is
       possible, too.

       그는 의사는 아니지만 치료는 잘 합니다.

     There are idioms, in which the subject can take only the subject marker with the particle
     -ga/-i. This subject can be also logically emphasized, but in such a case we have to
     pronounce it with stronger emphasis, too.

       비가 옵니다.→ 비가 옵니다.
       눈이 옵니다.→ 눈이 옵니다.

       If the simple sentence contains two subjects, their differentiation can be realised with the
       help of these two kinds of particles: the subject of the word which expresses the whole
       usually takes the particle -nǔn/-ǔn, while the subject which expresses the part of the whole
       takes the particle -ga/-i.
       We can compare the role of the particle -nǔn/-ǔn - especially in the following cases - with
       the function of the two dots:

       그 학생은 키가 큽니다. That student: tall.
       미국 사람은 코가 큽니다. The Americans: the nose is big
       한국은 날씨가 좋습니다. Korea: the weather is good.

       In a sentence with two subjects, when the subject expressing the whole becomes
       emphasized, both subjects take the particle -ga/-i.

       친구가 머리가 좋습니다.

       In the complex sentences these two kinds of particles play a very importtant role in the
       differentiaton ot the main and subordinate clauses: as a rule the subject of the main

     clause take the particle -nǔn/-ǔn and the subject of the subordinate clause takes the
     nominativ marker -ga/-i :

     저는 날씨가 좋으면 산책하겠습니다.
     동생은 어머니가 방을 청소하시는 동안 가게에 갔다가 왔습니다.
     우리 어머니는 동생이 어디 있는지 모르십니다.

     The -nǔn/-ǔn can be attached not only to the subject (contrary to the subject case particle
     but also to every other case particles, that is to say, to every other part of speech.
     Attention: only the nominative and accusative particles disappear during this process.

     (나는) 개는 안 좋아합니다.
     집에서는 공부를 안 합니다.
     비행기로는 안 갑니다.
     나에게는 라디오가 없습니다.


                            I. Books on Phonology and Grammar

„Chosǒnmal-kyubǒmchip” haesǒl (1971). Pyǒngyang,
CHO GYU-BIN (1991): Kogyomunpǒp chasupsǒ. Seoul.
HO ǓNG (1995): 20 segi urimal-ǔi hyǒngt’aeron. Seoul.
HONG CHAE-SONG (1999): Hangugǒ tongsa kumun sajǒn. Seoul.
HONG YUNSOOK (1991): A Sociolinguistic Study of Seoul Korean. Seoul
IM HONG-BIN (1991): Kugǒ munpǒp-ǔi simch’ung (1) Seoul
KIM WAN-JIN (1983): Phonological Structure of the Korean Language. In: (ed. by the Korean
         National Commission for UNESCO) The Korean Language. Seoul. 157–170 .
KIM WAN-JIN (1972): Le systéme phonologique de la langue coréenne. In: Revue de Corée,
         Vol. IV. No. 4. Seoul. 3–15.
LEE, H. B.(1989): Korean Gramma., New York.
LEE DONG JAE (1996): The State of Art in and Desiderata for Korean Language Education. In:
         Korea Journa. Vol. 36. 53–72 p.
LI HYON-BOK (1989): Hangugǒ-ǔi p'yojun-parǔm. Seoul.

NO DAE-GYU (1996): Hangugǒ-ǔi ipmal-gwa kǔlmal. Seoul.

                        II. Textbooks and other teaching material

CHANG NAMGUI–KIM YONG-CHOL (1991): Functional Korean. Seoul.
CHANG, SUK-IN (1982): Modern Conversational Korean (I.). Seoul.
CHONG CHAE-HO (1986): Hangugǒ 1–4. (Koryo University). Seoul.
Chosonǒ (ed. by the Kim Il Sung University., Pyǒngyang, 1982.
Hanggugǒ 1 (ed. by the Seoul University). Seoul, 1979
Hangugǒ (ed. by the Seoul University). Seoul, 1992.
Hangugǒ-tokpon (ed. by the Yonsei University). Seoul, 1979.
Hangugǒ-tokpon (ed. by the Yonsei University). Seoul, 1993.
HONG YON-SUK (1991): Myǒngdo’s Korean (1). Seoul. In Russian.
JONES, B. J.: Let's Learn Korean, Seoul, 1982.
KIM CHANG-UI (1987): Pictorial Sino-Korean Characters. Seoul.
KONG IK-HYON (1989): Let's Learn Korean. Pyǒngyang.
Kugǒmunpǒp (chunghakkyo che 1 hangnyǒn). Pyǒngyang, 1972.
LI OGG–KIM SUK-DEK–HONG CHAI-SONG (1985): Initiation a la langue coréenne. Seoul.
LUKOFF, FRED (1982): An Introductory Course in Korean. Yonsei University Press: Seoul.
OSVÁTH GÁBOR (1993): Magyar-koreai igei vonzatszótár (Hungarian-Korean Verb
        Dictionary). Budapest.
OSVÁTH, GÁBOR (1995-1996): Koreai nyelv alapfokon I–II. (Basic Korean for Hungarian
        Learners I–II.), College for Foreign Trade. Budapest..
PARK CHANG-HAI–PAK KI-DAWK (1975): Korean 1. (ed. by the Yonsei University). Seoul..
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