How many words do you think a Korean learner need to memorize?

student7

Senior Member
Japanese
How many words do you think a Korean learner should memorize?

Some people say that learners should memorize at least 10,000 words whatever language they learn.

However, I think that only memorizing 10,000 words is a boring task.

I read Korean Web pages, which are interesting for me. When I come across unknown words, I put them on flash cards.

However, I cannot decide whether or not I should keep on doing this until I create 10,000
flash cards...

How many words do you think a Korean learner should memorize?

Should a learner put vocabulary building first?

Or should a learner put language use first and vocabulary building second?

Please tell me about your philosophy about this.
 
  • Warp3

    Member
    US
    US English
    If learners should memorize "at least" 10,000 words, then why would you stop at 10,000 (since that's the stated minimum, not the final goal)?

    Eventually you should have enough words firmly embedded in your head that you shouldn't feel the need for flashcards anymore (just like you don't in your own native language), but that cutoff point is in no way dependent on how many flashcards you have. You may have half that or you may have triple that before you feel comfortable in the language. In addition, many language learners don't use flash cards at all.

    Also...my comments above assume that you are aiming for a near-native vocabulary in Korean. If you aren't then it's impossible to even know what ballpark that number should be without knowing your end goal.

    If your goal is to be able to read Korean web pages effortlessly, then I'd say keep actively memorizing vocabulary (with or without flashcards) until you run across new words at a similar frequency to what occurs in your own native language (which, while very small, is still not zero). At that point, you can learn new words the same way you do those in your native language (mostly from context, with the occasional look-up required).
     

    henry1956

    New Member
    English
    As a follow up from Warp3 comments, I agree that all will depend on your final goal, but in any case, as you seems wanting to learn Korean, I think that, in any case, vocabulary should be put in a second place after, and dependently, of grammar, morphemes combination or language usage, even if what you want is to read Web pages. It is true that there is some language teaching Schools that put vocabulary training first, even before teaching sentence structure. There have been many cases when a foreign language student is forced to learn by heart an endless group of words. At the end of 6 months he or she rejoices at knowing hundreds of words. Indeed they know them, but they don’t know how to use them. Eventually when they find themselves in a real native-language context, they get a real shock when somebody does not understand what they mean using those words they think they have learned. Only after months of hearing native speakers express themselves, read a lot and take care of the meaning of the word used, you come to understand that those words that you used to “swallow” might have different meanings depending on the context or might not be used in a given one. So in the case of Korean or other language, my suggestion is: do not take care on the amount, but on the meaning of the words. Go to meaning first and then remember the usage of that vocabulary or word in that cultural or extra linguistic context. This will take you to learn other words for another or similar context. 말수가 많은 사람 does not necessarily mean that a person knows “many words”.
     

    hana20

    Member
    Filipino,English
    I thought no korean language learner will dare to think of memorizing 10,000 vocab aside from me and use flash cards.I'm on my thousand vocab and counting. Aside from constantly memorizing vocab I also study grammar.My brother thinks I'm crazy having the goal of being proficient by only self studying but I won't give up.Remote memorization seems tiring and less fun but I know i will bear the fruit of my hardwork. I didn't attend school for 6 months just to begin my journey in learning korean.I'm going back to school soon and I will still give ample time for korean study.
    Here's the written goal i made recently:
    my goal everyday except sundays
    1.memorize 50 vocab
    2.study 10 grammar rules
    3.listen to korean radio for 2 hours
    4.write a 1 page essay
    5.read one article

    Goodluck on your study!우리가 할 수 있어!
     

    jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Maybe it's already too late to answer your question but just to put in my two cents,

    If you want to have very basic conversation skills as a traveler,
    about 100 words, mainly numbers and commonly used nouns like names of food, is good enough.

    If you want to live in Korea and have basic understanding of things,
    about 300 words is required as those core 300 words make up almost 80% of our conversations.

    If you want to understand the rest of them, meaning virtually 100% from conversations, TV, etc, 10,000 words sounds good.

    I am saying this from my experience of not only learning 2 different foreign languages (English and Indonesian) as a Korean
    but living in America and Indonesia.

    As henry1956 said, knowing how to use them is also important but that's another story we can discuss later.

    I see that you are Japanese. Then you are already far ahead of people from many other countries
    for we have so many words in common like English and some European language.

    Good luck, student7!
     

    promoteglobal

    New Member
    English
    Maybe it's already too late to answer your question but just to put in my two cents,

    If you want to have very basic conversation skills as a traveler,
    about 100 words, mainly numbers and commonly used nouns like names of food, is good enough.

    If you want to live in Korea and have basic understanding of things,
    about 300 words is required as those core 300 words make up almost 80% of our conversations.

    If you want to understand the rest of them, meaning virtually 100% from conversations, TV, etc, 10,000 words sounds good.

    I am saying this from my experience of not only learning 2 different foreign languages (English and Indonesian) as a Korean
    but living in America and Indonesia.

    As henry1956 said, knowing how to use them is also important but that's another story we can discuss later.

    I see that you are Japanese. Then you are already far ahead of people from many other countries
    for we have so many words in common like English and some European language.

    Good luck, student7!
    Do you have a link to what these 300 words are? 10,000 word? Do you know where I can find a list of most common words listed from 1-10,000 with 1 being most used and 10,000 being least used. Do you have any idea in what direction I should go to go on a seach for something like that? What words I should search on google?
     

    jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Do you have a link to what these 300 words are? 10,000 word? Do you know where I can find a list of most common words listed from 1-10,000 with 1 being most used and 10,000 being least used. Do you have any idea in what direction I should go to go on a seach for something like that? What words I should search on google?
    The numbers I mentioned are rough ones from my experience with learning English.
    I'm not a professional Korean teacher so I don't know where you can go to find useful lists.
    But this is what I found from the Internet complied by National Institute of Korean Language.
    So it must be a good one.
    ("A" words in the list are the most basic ones and they are about 1,000)
     
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