Korean in Mongolia

According to an article I came across today, increasing numbers of Mongolians are enrolling in Korean language classes in the hope that they will get jobs in Korea and save enough money to buy a house when they return to Mongolia. This is the so-called ‘Korean dream’. Such classes are available at all levels of education from primary schools to universities.

Already a quite a large number of Mongolians – around 33,000 – live and work in South Korea, and it seems many of the compatriots would like to follow in their footsteps. Many Mongolians also go to study in Korea, attracted in part by the relatively low study costs.

I wonder if the Mongolian find it easier to learn Korean, a language which has a similar structure to Mongolian, than other languages such as English, Russian or Chinese. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that Japanese people find Turkish easier to learn than English because of its similar structure.

5 thoughts on “Korean in Mongolia

  1. If a Japanese person finds Turkish easier, then a Mongolian should find Korean easier, since Korean is more likely than Japanese to be Altaic (at least from what I’ve read) and is probably closer to Mongolian than Japanese is to Turkish in any case.

    This reminds me of immigrants seeking the “American dream”. It seems as though more Mongolians pursuing the “Korean dream” are learning Korean than people pursuing the “American Dream” are English.

  2. Japanese was the most commonly studied foreign language after German in my University in Istanbul, Turkey. (The university was in English).
    Turks pick up Japanese grammar easily.

  3. @BG: Possibly, but more people are learning English than pursuing the “American Dream”… 🙂

    And while structural similarity may well have a positive effect on language learning, surely actual structural complexity far outweighs this. Presumably speakers of tone languages have greater facility learning other tone languages than speakers of non-tonal ones. But while speakers of Chinese may do a fair job learning !Xóõ (or even Yi, to take a related language), they would probably do an even better job learning Tok Pisin.

  4. I think that in general, by picking up languages that have certain structural characteristics (such as tone, case, and fixed word orders), it makes learning another language with similar characteristics much easier. While I had an extremely difficult time at first dealing with the SOV word order of Amharic (I kept leaving off the verb at the end of the sentence!) once I had it fairly well, dealing with it in Kurdish and Hindi was much simpler.


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