Korean: 안녕하세요


Distribution: Countries include but not limited to: North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

Introduction: The Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altaic language family. The syntax is similar to Japanese, and Korean uses some Chinese characters. Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea; however, the separation of the two countries has resulted in minor differences in spelling and vocabulary choice. 

Cultural and Rhetorical Influences

  • Strong cultural pressure causes Koreans to speak in an unhurried manner.

    • Koreans are reluctant to use gestures of any kind when giving presentations.

    • Anything more expressive is regarded as unacceptable.

  • Smiles may be ambiguious, representing a variety of different emotions.

  • Students have little experience constructing essays, because the teachers focus on grammar.

  • Learners are extremely reluctant to speak to avoid judgement, affecting their tutoring involvement.

  • Eye contact is regarded as rude.

  • Korean students value the considered pause as it gives them more time to process information.

  • Openness is viewed as being effusive and verbose.

  • Authoritativeness may be interpreted as anger or the sign of an aggressive personality.


  • The Korean language includes many dialects:

    • Differences of pronunciation, making it difficult for some Korean speakers to learn English.

    • Standard Korean language speakers have a slight advantage learning English.

  • Korean letters are phonetic symbols, not ideograms.

  • Characters cannot be capitalized; therefore, Korean students may trouble with capitalization.

  • Punctuation marks present difficulty, since spaces between words are used in substitution.

    • A noun suffix is used instead of possessive apostrophes.

  • Sentences are structured through subject-object-verb order.

  • No auxiliary verbs exist.

  • There is no perfect aspect in Korean.


Lee, Jung-Ae. "Korean Speakers." Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Ed. Swan, Michael and Bernard Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 325-342. Print.