Level 1: Learning “Hangul” Part 2 – Korean Alphabet Vowels

Let’s just start this by saying the vowels make some people…


I know I was definitely one of them. There are not many…. like… 10. 10 Vowels, but 8 of them are so similar that it takes a little bit to figure it out. But I got it!
Thanks to the 90 Minute Challenge from 90 Day Korean!

Here are the Hangul we will be focusing on today!!

ㅗ ㅓ ㅏ ㅜ ㅛ ㅕ ㅑ ㅠ ㅣ ㅡ

Yeah… right? But there is a way that 90 Day Korean has explain in their 90 minute challenge that has got it to the point that I almost don’t have to think about it as much. (Part of it is because I have been practicing with flashcards and now I don’t have to think as much as I used to.)

Here is the BIG TRICK:

First, they say this phrase. Remember this phrase. It seriously… yeah:
Old iPod, New iPad.

What does that have to do with anything? We are starting there and it seriously makes a different.
Notice the vowel sounds in those words. I will point them out actually. The ones you need to focus on.


Got it? The long “O” in Old. The short “O” in iPod. The “EW” in New. And lastly, but not least, the short “A” in iPad.
(Just a funny little tidbit – the first time when I was learning, I remembered the sound “ew” because of the word “Sacrebleu!” It has more of the has more of the strong sound that I hear from the Hangul App that I have mentioned before that teaches by actual speaking sound.)

Okay. Got it. Long O, short O, eu/ew, and short A.
But how does that help us remember which vowel sounds go with this symbol?? I mean, the directions and –
Oh, they totally provided that.

You can already see where this is going, right?

The direction of where the word is is the VOWEL SOUND that that vowel makes.
Did that make sense? I’ll show you. (Again, Thank you Korean Wiki Project!) First, we are going to focus on the single line ones: ㅗ ㅓ ㅏ ㅜ


This letter is pointing up. So, it has a sound of the letter I emphasized on that little diagram: Long “O” like in “O”ld.

Wait, what?

Yeah. It may take a moment for some to remember it, but for me, this totally worked. If I have to think about it, I know where it points to.

Does it work for all of them? Let’s check.

This letter is pointing left.
So this letter has the vowel sound of the short “O” like in iP”o”d.

How amazing is that? (I am holding off from other “OMG” moment/GIF. But it will come.)

This letter is pointing down, so it has the “EW” sound in N”ew”.
(My mind automatically corrects me to “EU” like Sacrebleu for pronunciation, but you main focus is to recognize them and get the general sound and then we can work on pronunciation later on. It will come with time and the more we use it/speak to others who know better.)

Just remember, it isn’t EW as in gross. It is the “ew” sound in New. If you have to, practice saying “new” a few times, THEN cut out the n eventually. See how differently that sounds? (It does! I swear!)

This letter is pointing right. So, it gets the short “A” sound, like in iP”a”d.

For real.

Another way my brain works to try to recognize it faster, I know that Top is Old, bottom is New. Left is iPod (like older in a timeline) and right is iPad. That way I don’t have to say the WHOLE phrase to figure out which one it is.

You will probably figure out your own system or your brain will adapt quickly and it will click. At least it did for me.

(You are MORE THAN WELCOME to offer me suggestions that you have used to help you remember – because it might help someone else as well!)

Now, y’all may be wondering about those double line vowels that point in directions as well. Guess what? Same system applies, except there is one difference:
the “Y” that is added to the beginning. Like the “Yuh” sound. Watch:

As we recently learned, because it is pointing up, it has the long “O” sound. Now, put that together with the “y” sound in front! Yo.

Now, we aren’t rapping. It’s not that quick yo yo yo. Remember, O from Old. YO.

See? Same concept, just add Y. Let’s go ahead and do it for all of them.

Letting pointing left, which means it has the short “o” sound from iPod. Add the Y. Yoh/Ya.

It seems hard to write the sound. Especially if you are thinking about an O and the sounds it can make. How to practice?
iPod. od. o.
Get that o sound from that word, then add the “yuh” in front.
Yoh. That is how I had to practice and get it down. Do what you need to. And with more practice, it makes sense!

This letter is pointing down. So it uses the “ew”/”eu” sound. Double bar means add that Y sound to the front! Yew/Yeu.

Random fun: using that letter has been used for a crying emoji. ㅠ.ㅠ Yes, I can be random.

And here comes the last of what I call “directional vowels” – because this is the last one that I use with that phrase.

This letter is pointing right. That means it is the short A sound from iPad! Ah. Since it has that double bar there, it means add a “Y” in front! Yah. Yah. (Or Ya, depending on your pronunciation.)

Got it? With that phrase, you now know 8 out of 10 vowels!


But wait, what about the other 2? These are the fun ones that are easy (most people seem to remember these two the most)! Whoo! Let’s get to it!


Easiest way to remember/learn this letter? It stands tall like a Tree! Which means it makes the “EE” sound!


This letter, I love how they explained it in the PDF.
“You cannot have a tree without a brook!”
Yup. Use that “oo” sound in brook!


And there we go!

The Hangul Vowels!


Wait, you didn’t believe me? That that was all I used? For real, that is how I now know my vowels. Awesome, right?

Finding good source material to help with such things is always fantastic. I know I keep mentioning that PDF, but guys, it is worth reading and studying. I will talk a little bit more about that 90 Day Korean website in a few entries – but not for a while.

Soon, I will talk about words and stuff I learned from TTMIK podcasts as well as how to READ Hangul and put all this letter recognition to use!

And, you have reached the end of this entry!
Any other suggestions or recommendations? Know a different trick? Let me know, and I can share! Until then,



Next on TTLK: Level 1: TTMIK “Hello and Thank You!” Podcast #1
Next in Series: Level 1: Learning “Hangul” Part 3 – Korean Alphabet Double and Combo Letters


One thought on “Level 1: Learning “Hangul” Part 2 – Korean Alphabet Vowels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s