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korean Pronunciation Problems Many years ago, I decided to leave Canada to teach English in korea. Having no luck finding a decent job at home, I set off on my first flight to ?The Land of the Morning Calm? to teach in an English Hagwon (private English academy). I had no experience, no knowledge of korea, and no idea what I was getting myself into. Now years later, I am glad I made that journey. Teaching koreans English over the past several years, I have learned some of the difficulties koreans face in pronouncing and learning English. But, whether it is letter sounds, word stress, or Konglish, koreans have their difficulties, just as I am sure other nationalities do. Here is a crazy tidbit for you. Some mothers in korea have oral surgery done to their kids to detach their tongue from the floor of their mouth to make it longer because they believe this why their child can?t pronounce some sounds. Crazy, eh? One reason for mispronunciation is that the korean language (Hangeul) has only 20 characters (14 consonants/ 6 vowels) to make sounds and that some English sounds do not exist, such as f, v, z, th. So when they try to speak words using these letters, there is almost always a mistake. Festival is pronounced pestival. Violin is pronounced biolin. Zoo is pronounced joo. Math is pronounced mass. Another reason is syllables. koreans words never have more than two consonants in a row, unlike English where there can be three in a row. An example is sprite (spr) which has one syllable. In korean, ????? has five syllables. Also, many korean words end with a vowel sound. If a word ends with a consonant sound, an extra ?eu? or ?i? sound is added. It is difficult for korean learners to kick the habit of adding this extra vowel to English words. Bus becomes bus-eu, dark becomes dark-eu and orange becomes oran-jee. The list goes on. The problems I have communicating with taxi drivers are endless and amusing. If I say I want to go to Wal-mart, they look at me with no clue. Add ?eu?, Wal-mart-eu and away we go. korean language does not emphasize individual word stress, which varies greatly from English and is a major reason why it seems flat when koreans speak to English listeners. It is so hard for me to get adult learners to express any feeling into their talking. kids are easier to teach this too because they aren?t afraid to change the pitch of their voice or look silly in trying. Another major reason is Konglish. Konglish is a term for using English words in a korean context and they are used daily by everyone. The words are either actual English words in korean context (?????/ motorcycle) or are made from a combination of korean and/or English words (????/ Officetel, office + hotel) which are not used in english speaking countries. We can probably thank the American military presence over the past 60 years and the popularity of English TV for this. The problem with Konglish is that koreans have a predetermined meaning and pronunciation attached to these words and it is very difficult to break. Getting koreans to stop saying the Konglish word they use in daily conversation and say it correctly in English is hair pulling difficult. Countless drilling to have them say orange and not oran-jee, only to hear them say it incoreectly 5 minutes later. It is a challenge. You can find a list of Konglish words here: http://koreanwikiproject.com/wiki/index.php?title=Konglish I have learned a lot about teaching while here in korea and a lot about teaching koreans and the difficulties they face.