This article will explain how you can turn your English-only keyboard into a dual English-Korean keyboard in a reversible manner so that you can type Korean characters on a computer.
Before We Begin
• If you only want to read Korean (documents or Websites), you don’t need to do anything. The Windows and Mac operating systems have basic Korean fonts activated by default, which will display Korean texts.
• This article is for those who wish to input Korean characters occasionally, while keeping the primary language of the computer as English. Converting your computer’s entire user interface into Korean involves a different procedure, which will not be covered by this article.
The Windows and Mac operating systems offer a Korean keyboard option, which you can implement in a few simple steps. With this feature activated, you can switch back and forth between English and Korean as you type, even at mid-sentence. Implementing this option changes little in your computer’s user interface (the only difference you will notice is a tiny icon showing up in your taskbar), and you can deactivate the feature at any time.
In the Korean mode, your keyboard will work as shown above. All the consonants are entered by the left hand; all the vowels (except the one colored red in the figure) are entered by the right hand. The shift keys are used only for five compound consonants (shift + Q, W, E, R and T keys) and two compound vowels (shift + O and P keys).
If your operating system is Windows 10, stay on this page -- the implementation steps are shown below. For other operating systems, make a selection in the box to move to the appropriate page.
1) Click the Windows Start button (located in the lower left corner of your desktop), and click the gear icon (the Settings button).
2) Select “Time & Language”.
3) In the left panel, select “Language”.
Note: The current illustration is made with the May 2019 release of Windows 10 (version 1903, build 18362). If your Windows 10 is an earlier release, the interface may differ slightly. For example, the left panel may have “Region & Language” rather than a separate “Language” entry.
4) Click the + sign next to “Add a preferred language”. Adding Korean as a “preferred” language by following the steps below will not make Korean preferred over the existing default language (English). Unless you make the extra efforts of manually moving the newly added language to a position higher than English (which this article will not show), Korean will be placed at a position less “preferred” than English, and the Korean keyboard will only perform auxiliary functions.
5) In the search box, type “Korean”, and hit the Enter key of your keyboard. The Korean language option will appear below the search box. Click “Next”.
6) There are 3 features that most of the readers of this article would never need. Uncheck the options indicated in the picture (Install Language Pack; Text-to-speech; Handwriting).
7) Make sure that the top 4 features are unchecked. You are going to install only the bottom 2 features (Basic typing and Optical character recognition), which are by default preselected and grayed out, apparently obligatory installation requirements under this option. Click “Install”. Installation takes about a minute. During this installation step, it appears that some additional Korean fonts are also downloaded. (When you purchase a computer, the Windows operating system already comes with an adequate number of basic Korean fonts. In this step, it appears that more Korean fonts are downloaded to give you a longer list of available Korean fonts.)
8) The implementation is now complete. You will notice a tiny new icon (“ENG”) appearing in your taskbar, next to the clock. That icon is a toggle switch you will use to move back and forth between the English-Only mode and the Korean-Enabled mode of your keyboard. How to use this switch is explained in the following section.
How to Alternate Between the English and Korean Keyboards
Open an application that will give you a space to type something onto. For example, open Notepad, MS Word, Excel or a browser window showing an actual input field such as a Google search window. (If the space where your cursor is placed on has no input space available, the language icon will not behave as illustrated here.)
As long as the language icon next to the clock is displayed as “ENG”, your keyboard is locked in the English-Only mode and typing Korean is not possible. If you click the language icon, it will let you choose between two options: "ENG" and (Korean).
Select the second entry (Korean Microsoft IME; IME stands for "input method editor"). The third line is a preference bar, which most readers of this article need not be concerned with.
In the image shown below, the language icon now changes to , and you will see yet another status indicator (“A”). Can you type Korean now? Not yet. The icon indicates that the keyboard has been freed from the English-Only mode and your keyboard is now in the Korean-English dual mode. But the “A” indicator shows that the keyboard language at the moment happens to be English (symbolized by “A”, the first letter of the English alphabet). In other words, the Korean keyboard is not engaged.
Whenever you are ready to type Korean, click the “A” symbol, which will then change to a Korean letter "가" . While the symbol is shown as "가", the keyboard is in the Korean mode and you can type Korean.
You can hit the symbol again at any time to change it back to “A” to type English.
If you prefer, you can also alternate between "A" and "가" by hitting the ALT key. (A keyboard has two ATL keys, but only the ALT key on the right side will work for this purpose.)
To lock the keyboard stably in the English-Only mode, move out of the dual mode by clicking and choosing the top line ("ENG").
When writing Korean on paper, you need to arrange the consonants and vowels into square-shaped clusters (each square being a syllable). But on a computer keyboard, you can simply type them in linear sequence. The computer will automatically assemble them into syllabic clusters.
Let's type the Korean word for "summer", which looks like this:
This 2-syllable word contains 5 phonetic elements:
Before typing, make sure your language mode is in the mode and you have converted the "A" symbol to the "가" symbol.
Now, type the 5 necessary elements one at a time. You will see that the computer uses the first 2 elements to form the first cluster and the rest 3 to make the second.
For another example, let's type the Korean word for "fruit", which looks like this:
Like "summer", this word has 2 syllables and 5 phonetic elements:
Type the 5 elements. You will see that, this time, the computer uses the first 3 elements to construct the first syllable, and the rest 2 to make the second. But you don't need to concern yourself with the rules behind it. It is done automatically by the computer. If you wish to learn more about how the Korean consonants and vowels are put together into syllabic clusters, you may find our "Korean Alphabet Made Easy" article helpful.
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