Sino-Korean words represent over half of Korean vocabulary, but since most modern Korean is written phonetically in hangul, the semantic connections between related words are not readily transparent to most learners without hanja instruction. This pilot study investigates the benefits of a hanja education that focuses exclusively on the sound-to-meaning relationship of individual hanja-based syllables, for example, teaching students that the syllable 수/swu is the phonetic pronunciation of the hanja for water. It provides evidence that teaching the meaning of hanja morphemes can help students retain new vocabulary over a short period of time and raises the possibility that hanja syllable education could act as a substitute for more comprehensive forms of hanja education.

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