One thing that may continue to puzzle both beginners and intermediate learners alike when studying Korean is the widespread use of double consonants like ㅃ, ㅉ, ㄸ, ㄲ, and ㅆ in the Korean language. To the untrained ear they sound almost similar to ㅍ / ㅂ, ㅊ / ㅈ, ㅌ / ㄷ, ㅋ / ㄱ, and ㅅ even though they sound distinctly different from these sounds to a native speaker. If the proper pronunciation is not trained from the beginning bad pronunciation habits may easily form. So how to check if you’re doing it right?
Ideally, you should sit across from a native speaker and have them tell you if you just said 카, 까, or 가. The bad news is that most Korean learners do not have a native speaker by their side at all times. The good news is that they almost always have a smartphone.
I use my iPhone’s built-in notes app for checking my pronunciation, not only of the double consonants but Korean words in general. Here’s how I do it:
- Make sure your phone’s keyboard is set to 한글
- Open the notes app
- Tap the microphone button
- Say e.g. 토 또 도, and see if the app transcribes your words correctly. Practice until you can get it right 3 times in a row.
Bonus: If you are unsure about how to read out a sentence as well, try the same thing. For the app to transcribe your words correctly you must pronounce the words correctly with the proper intonation.