Original blog post: https://ling-app.com/km/is-khmer-hard-to-learn/
Is Khmer hard to learn? Let me answer that by asking you the question, “How determined are you in learning?” The reason why I have asked you that question is that learning a language should come from your intrinsic motivation, which is rooted in your love and passion for learning your target language.
Learning a new language like Khmer can be frustrating and daunting, especially if you are not familiar with the writing system, Khmer alphabet, pronunciation, grammar structure, vocabulary, and more. It’s easy to give up if you experience any struggle, but if you have an inner motivation with you, every day you spend learning is worth it. But, because you’re here for a reason, let me walk you first through the basics of the Khmer language.
What Is The Khmer Language?
With approximately 16 million speakers, the Khmer language, also called the Cambodian language, is one of the widely spoken Austroasiatic languages. It is the official language spoken in Cambodia, which is a country in Southeast Asia. Khmer is a Mon-Khmer language so that it can technically be called the “cousin language” of Vietnamese. But, during the Angkorian period, Khmer was influenced by Indian languages like Pali and Sanskrit. So, if you have a background in any of the languages mentioned, you can definitely answer the question, “is Khmer hard to learn?”
Learning Khmer: Is It Hard?
Now that you have learned a little bit of the Khmer language, let us now answer your question, “Is Khmer hard to learn?”. In a blog post written in ESL Stories, Khmer is the second easiest Asian language you can learn. But, what makes a language easy to learn?
A blog titled “5 Best Languages To Learn In 2021” stated some factors that will affect your language learning. This includes your native language, Exposure to your target foreign language, grasp of grammatical structures, pronunciation, strength as a learned, and motivation. All these factors will help you learn languages easily.
In this part of the blog, we will answer the question “Is Khmer hard to learn?” by exploring its alphabet and writing system, phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and even levels of respect. Here are some facts about the Khmer language that may help you answer your questions.
1. It Has An Interesting Alphabet And Writing System
When we were young, the first thing that our parents wants us to learn is the letters in the alphabet. First, we must identify each character and the sounds it makes. Soon, we will learn to write these alphabets through tracing.
Having 33 consonants, 23 vowels, and 12 independent vowels, Khmer is not a piece of cake for a beginner but, if you spend time learning it slowly, just like we did when we were young, you will surely get there. Khmer alphabets may be visually similar to Thai because of having the same roots, so it is essential to learn the alphabet first. Remember that alphabet is the foundation to be able to read and write. So, spending time, even if it takes you months or weeks to learn, will make it easier for you to learn Khmer.
Another factor why it’s easy to learn is that Khmer has an interesting writing system. Khmer script has different characteristics, which have been described in the blog post, Khmer Alphabet And Tips To Write In Khmer. It also has two forms, the oblique and round.
When you have a strong grasp of reading and writing Khmer alphabets, it is already a strong headstart. In the blog post mentioned above, you can see the Khmer alphabet. Then, you may practice on your own. It may seem hard at first but, try starting from the vowel and work your way up to the other alphabets. With this, nothing is impossible.
2. It’s Not A Tonal Language.
Speaking Khmer like a native speaker is probably one of the greatest desires of every Khmer language learner. Khmer can easily learn Khmer because it is not a tonal language like Vietnamese, Lao, Cantonese, or Mandarin Chinese. This means that your tones will not affect the meaning of the spoken words and phrases. Therefore, if you want to learn how to speak Khmer, it will be easy for you because you don’t necessarily have to learn different intonations and tones.
Another factor that will make it easy for you to learn Khmer is the emergence of different language learning apps like Ling App, which has audio recordings from a native speaker. This way, you’ll be able to hear the sound of each letter and how each word is being pronounced.
3. It Follows, S-V-O Grammar Structure
To be able to construct a sentence is an example of progress in learning languages. Talking about grammar structure, Khmer follows the basic word order SVO (subject-verb-object) just like in English, Spanish, French, and other European languages. But, you also have to know that Cambodians often used prepositions rather than post prepositions which means that subjects are often dropped.
Having the same word order as English will make it easy for you to learn Khmer. Other grammatical rules could be learned through lessons and useful resources such as Ling App. You can also learn through taking a course or hiring a private teacher. But, if you don’t have time to enroll in a school, the first option is perfect for you.
4. There Are Different Levels Of Respect In The Khmer Language
If you are familiar with other Asian languages like Korean and Japanese, they have levels of respect when talking to other people, which depends on social hierarchy and age. You should know that Khmer also has this. In the blog post, Khmer Alphabet And Tips To Write In Khmer, the Sampeah in Cambodian culture is discussed.
There are certain ways and words you use to talk to your friends, family, and even the monks. English doesn’t have these levels but does this make the Khmer language hard to learn? Definitely not. Because, while you learn the Khmer language, you will also learn about their culture. This will help you understand the appropriate words and grammar structure to use. So, don’t worry because, with the right tool and resources, you’ll master those levels.
Learning Khmer: What Are The Typical Mistakes?
As a foreigner, most of the mistakes are committed in the spoken language. Many things will be difficult for foreigners because there are sounds that are not used in the English language. So, if you want to learn in Khmer, make sure to be serious when you figure out the pronunciation of the words.
Learning Khmer: How Long Does It Take?
According to US Foreign Service Institute research, it takes 48 days to learn easy languages and 72 hours for hard languages. According to this research, learning for 10 hours a day is the average period to achieve essential fluency. But, you should know that learning a language is different among people. There are fast learners, and there are those who need time. When you are not a native speaker and spend time learning through books, the internet, or other resources, it may take a couple of weeks or even months.
On the other hand, if you are in Cambodia, you can learn Khmer quickly because you’re already exposed to the language, which is really important. Being able to hear it from the locals will definitely improve your spoken language faster than those who are not. Your writing skills will also improve because you’re also exposed to signages and print resources.
So, to sum up, the span of learning Khmer will depend on your cognitive level and exposure to the language. This may also answer your question, “Is Khmer hard to learn?”
Tips To Learn Khmer Easily
After learning these fun facts about the Khmer language, can you already answer the question, “Is Khmer hard to learn?” Unfortunately, there is no exact way to address this question because most of the factors will depend on the language learners. How exposed are you to the Khmer language? How much time are you willing to give up? How motivated are you?
Learning a new language, not just Khmer, could be hard at first but remember that nothing is impossible when you put your heart into it. Make a move and start learning Khmer if you really love to. For example, if you are in Cambodia, try not to use English in some situations. Try greeting people using basic Khmer greetings. Try using the Khmer language when ordering food in a local Cambodian restaurant. Try answering basic questions using Yes/ No/ Ok in Khmer.
Try doing these things, and I am pretty sure you’ll get the answer to your question, “Is Khmer hard to learn?.”
Learning Khmer Easily With Ling App
You have constantly been looking for the answer to your question, “Is Khmer hard to learn?” but the answer lies within you. In the first place, if you really want to learn a new language, would you ask yourself that question? Or, would you rather step out and level up your language learning game plan? If you choose the second option, Ling App will be your best language learning partner.
In language learning, every day is an opportunity to improve. With Ling App, you’ll have access to various topics that are well-categorized according to your needs and level of complexity. What’s amazing about this app is that you can easily download this to your phone or access it on the internet. Just search the website, and you can start your free lessons right away. Learning Khmer may not seem easy at first, but everything will be easy with motivation and Ling App.