Friday, June 13, 2014

Korean nursery rhymes for adult Korean language learning

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A book review of Tuttle’s Korean Nursery Rhymes: Wild Geese, Land of Goblins and Other Favorite Songs and Rhymes
                In an effort to get my Korean language skills going again, I’ve been keeping my eye out for easy reads which often includes children’s books. Children’s books are not just for parents and their children; they are also great for language learners. I’m a huge fan of using music in my ESL courses and I wrote my Master’s thesis on student and teacher perceptions of using music in adult ESL. So Tuttle’s Korean Nursery Rhymes: Wild Geese, Land of Goblins and Other favorite Songs and Rhymes by Danielle Wright was an easy pick for me when I wanted to find a book with beginner Korean songs. The nursery song book does a fantastic job presenting some of Korea’s traditional and modern nursery rhymes in a way that makes language learning simple for any age.
                Each rhyme has bright and beautifully designed images along with Korean Hangul, Hangul written in English, as well as English words. Seeing the nursery rhyme presented in 3 different ways is great for slow learners like me, who are learning how to form sentences, and can only pick out a few words in a sentence. I can practice reading my Hangul first, to see if I know any of the words and then I can rely on the English translation. I can also improve my pronunciation by listening to the accompanying CD in both Korean and English. The Korean singer, Ah Young Jeong, has a sweet voice that is characteristic of any young child happily singing a nursery rhyme which helps these songs easily get stuck into your head.
                One of my favorite songs in the book is called “Little Fox” or “yeo-uya.” The song is about a little fox and someone asks him “Little fox, little fox, what do you do?” He replies many different thinks such as “I’m Sleeping” (Jam-janda) or “I’m eating rice” (Bab meoknunda) and the narrator replies “sleepy head!” (jamkkureogi!) and “with what on the side?” (museun banchan?). This song in particular is great for learning how to use Korean verbs and adjectives in a short and simple sentence.            
                Another song that is useful for learning facial features and directions is called “Here, There.” A light pink backdrop with flowers surrounds a mother holding her baby as the baby playfully inquires about facial features. “Where are my eyes?” (Nun en edoi issna, yogi) “Where are Mommy’s eyes? There!” (Eomma nun eun eodi essna, yeogi). A song like this will help you to remember vocabulary like eyes and nose as well as the different pronunciation of “Yogi” and “Yeogi” which are very similar. Getting down the slight differences in vowel sounds is difficult and listening to a song like this one will definitely help you make the round mouth you need for “Yo” sound and the parted lips you need for the “Yeo” sound.
                Sit back and relax to the tranquil melodies as you easily master the Korean language alone or with your little one. Singing along to the rhymes will make you feel accomplished and will absolutely aid in your vocabulary retention. Tuttle Publishing has many more bi-lingual Korean Children’s books like this one. Another similar book is titled My First Book of Korean Words: An ABC Rhyming Book that is also useful for Korean language learners of any age. Check out more of their books at

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  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at


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