Literacy experience in Korean: Implications for learning to read in a second language
Korean is written primarily through the use of Hangul, the Korean alphabetic script. There is also some very limited use of Hancha, Chinese characters, in combination with the Hangul (Taylor & Olson, 1995), although these are used only in South Korea and are not used at all in North Korea. Even in South Korea, the use of Hancha is very limited. Typically the characters appear only in texts targeted towards educated adults, such as newspapers and scholarly books (Cho et al., 2000), and in these texts the Hancha are used only where they serve to differentiate the meanings of identically pronounced and spelled Hangul words. Consequently, South Korean students are not required to learn Hancha. Hangul is the only script taught in elementary schools, and instruction in Hancha is offered only on an elective basis at the middle and high school levels. Therefore, this chapter focuses on examination of Hangul in identifying the metalinguistic competencies that are directly related to literacy learning in Korean.