Koreans are some of the nicest people in the world. They are talkative and polite, but interestingly, they are also quite proficient in English. You can pick up a lot by learning their language. Learning Korean is not only fun if you enjoy listening to K-pop or are passionate about Korean culture, but it is also helpful when traveling to Korea.
It can be overwhelming to start learning Korean. But it becomes easy when you know “how to learn.” There is no one right way to learn a language, and it is the one thing you should remember. There are many different methods, platforms, and tools for learning Korean, but most aren’t as effective as you think. It has always been about trial and error, immersion, and dedication to get better at a new language. Of course, the Korean language is not an exception. So, if you’re looking for the best ways to learn Korean, this is the ultimate guide that’s sure to tell you everything.
It’s hard to understand where to start when learning Korean for the first time. How do you know what methods will work best for you? To help you with this confusion, we decided to compile a list of the best ways for beginners to learn Korean, including free language programs, apps, and websites that are easy to use. Let’s take a look at what makes each one a great option for learning Korean on the go!
1. Practice the Korean Alphabet
The Korean alphabet, Hangul, is the most important part of learning Korean. The Korean script is known as Hangul or Hangeul. The word “Hangeul” is a combination of two Korean words: “Han” means “great” and “geul” means “script.” It comprises 24 basic letters, which combine to form complex letters. These are divided into 10 vowels (ㅏ ㅑ ㅓ ㅕ ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅠ ㅡㅣ) and 14 consonants (ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ). Once you know all of these vowels and consonants by heart, try writing them out yourself! You can use flashcards to practice writing each letter individually or in order.
It’s preferable to study the Hangul alphabet in English when you’re initially starting out rather than translate it into your native language. This will help you better understand how the words look and sound when they’re written down on paper or displayed on an app’s screen (or whatever medium). This may take some time—but don’t worry! Speaking and writing Korean will be easier than ever after you master Hangul.
Learning to speak Korean can sometimes be confusing since there are 2 different standard varieties of the Korean language—the Seoul dialect in South Korea and the Phyong’yang dialect in North Korea. Now, a lot of the confusion comes from people trying to learn how to speak like a native speaker by practicing one version and mixing that dialect with another version.
2. Focus on Korean Grammar and Build Vocabulary
After you master the Korean alphabet, another way to develop your language skills is to enhance your vocabulary. In order to understand what people are saying, you need to have a good grasp of the structures of the words in their native language. For example, if someone says “I’m hungry,” (배고파 or baegopa in Korean) your mind must be able to automatically connect this phrase with other words like food or hunger in general. Learn new words, memorize the sounds of each word, and then move on to practicing their pronunciation in isolation.
When it comes to building up your vocabulary, you can’t just learn random words—you need them to have meaning for you. You must be able to associate the words with other words immediately.
Following the above pattern, you’ll be able to learn a group of related words all at once. If you are unable to do so, your brain won’t be able to make much sense of what the natives are saying at all! Once you’ve mastered this part of the language, focus on Korean grammar. You can consult a Korean thesaurus or other language textbooks to study and understand grammar rules.
3. Explore Konglish and Loanwords
About 5% of the total Korean words are loanwords. These are called “loanwords” because they come from or have been borrowed from other languages. There are many such words that have become popular in everyday use by Koreans. These are important for easy communication when learning Korean, so make sure you know what these are!
One type of such loanword is one that has been borrowed from English and is created by combining words from both languages. These are called Konglish words. “Konglish” is a combination of Korean and English. Considering that you already know many of the words in English, learning Konglish is a simple way to learn Korean. Additionally, Konglish terms can often be pronounced differently from English words, making it a fun way to speak phrases you’ve been speaking differently before. Mostly, Koreans use Konglish words in informal situations, like on social media.
The following are some examples of Konglish words:
- Health Club: 헬스클럽 helseu-keulleop
- Apartment: 아파트 a-pa-teu
- Self Service: 셀프 sel-peu
- Team: 팀 tim
- Selfie:셀카 selka
- Smart/Hand Phone: 핸드폰 haen-deu-pon
- Pizza: 피자 pi-ja
4. Engage with Natives
The best way to learn a new language is through immersion. Only this way, you’ll be able to hear and understand a language when spoken and practice using new words in daily life. You can do this by talking with native speakers you know, in person or via Skype. You can even just hang out at a cafe with your local pals who want to learn the same language as you do.
Use Korean phrases on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These are great places where people from different cultures come together. So, there’s a lot of chance that one of those platforms might have some people who speak Korean. When they come across your posts, they’ll definitely respond to them. This way, you can broaden the Korean-speaking community around you. You can make Korean friends on Facebook and Twitter and ask them to interact with you often.
When speaking with natives about anything related to Korea, try using their native terms instead of your own words. In this way, they will understand better than if they hear something completely foreign-sounding coming out of your mouth! You can also join an online forum or meetup place where native speakers share their experiences in different languages, including Korean.
5. Enroll in an Online Course or Language Program
If you’re looking for a convenient and regular way to learn Korean, online language learning programs are the perfect option for you. Online courses and programs can also be an excellent choice if you have time constraints or work outside of your hometown. Online programs allow you to complete your learning from any location at any time of day or night.
Most of the online courses available for Korean are affordable and offer a variety of learning styles that will help you succeed in your goal. These courses allow you flexibility in your schedules and lives outside of working or school hours. You don’t even need a laptop every time you want to listen to a lecture. Almost all of these courses allow students access via mobile devices!
Another advantage of enrolling in an online course is that it allows for real-world interaction with other learners—a key factor when trying new things like language acquisition! The ability to communicate with others who share similar interests as well as challenges makes it much easier than studying alone. Some of the most affordable Korean language courses and programs are offered by:
6. Watch K-dramas of Different Genres
Another way to learn Korean is to watch K-dramas with English subtitles. K-dramas come in an extremely versatile range of genres, from rom-com and thrillers to fantasy and science fiction. So, you can easily find some interesting dramas to watch. K-dramas are popular all over the world and are a great way to familiarize yourself with Korean culture. Watching these can be fun and educational at the same time, especially if you’re interested in learning the Korean language itself.
You can also watch dramas without subtitles, which is a great option if you don’t have time or energy to learn new words at every turn. The audio and visuals will be perfect enough for your needs, and it won’t hurt your brain as much either! This way, you can introduce yourself to Korean words bit by bit. There may be some words that seem too difficult to interpret for you right now. But still, if they seem interesting enough on the screen, like “이런”, try using Google Translate to translate them into English while watching the show.
7. Listen to K-pop
Another great way to learn Korean is by listening to Korean pop music. In today’s younger generation, K-pop music is becoming increasingly popular. Korean idols and pop stars are famous for their unique voices. They are well-liked not only in South Korea but also everywhere else in the world. You’ve probably also heard Korean songs being played on TV shows, radio stations, and even in some movies.
So, if you too are a BTS fan, love some other K-pop band, or are simply passionate about Korean music, you must turn your love for music into a way of learning the Korean language. The next time you listen to K-pop, don’t forget to read the lyrics along with listening to the songs. Once you’ve learned to pronounce words this way, the next step will be to understand the meanings of these lyrics in your own language.
8. Use Flashcards Everyday
Flashcards are a great way to learn Korean. They are effective, easy to use, and will help you memorize new words. You can use flashcards to practice Korean in two ways:
- Vocabulary: Flashcards can be used to practice Korean vocabulary. You can test yourself with these on a regular basis.
- Pronunciation: Flashcards can also be used for learning how to pronounce Korean words correctly by writing down each word in both Hangul (Korean script) and Roman letters. So, when you come across that specific word again, later on, all the different pronunciations won’t confuse you!
Alternatively, you can use flashcard apps to practice Korean. These apps will save you from draining more of your energy on making flashcards every day rather than spending it on memorizing words. Some of the best flashcard apps available out there are:
9. Speak Simple Phrases in Korean Daily
Learning Korean is a long process. It’s not just about learning the words and grammar, but also about making sure you’re practicing your new language skills every day. This can be hard if you have a day job that requires focus and concentration, or if your family comes first in the evening hours when you should be focusing on the language. up
In such cases, the best way to learn Korean is by speaking simple phrases of daily life situations in Korean. These little phrases won’t cause too much trouble for your brain or mouth muscles! This sounds easy enough for someone who knows basic English words like “thank you,” “hello,” or maybe even some greetings, right? Yes! Exactly like that, you can use Korean phrases for daily greetings.
The next step is to try to keep these words in use until they feel comfortable enough with your speech patterns. Slowly, you’ll be able to speak more and more Korean words. And eventually, you’ll become confident in your Korean speaking skills.
10. Read Korean Story Books
Reading Korean storybooks is another great way to improve your vocabulary and grammar. While you can read any book you want, we recommend you begin with children’s story books. You’ll be able to learn basic Korean words from the children’s storybooks and interpret them easily with the help of colorful pictures.
Some of our favorite Korean children’s books are:
- Sleep Tight, Little Wolf (잘 자, 꼬마 늑대야) by Ulrich Renz
- Mom is Angry (엄마가 화났다) by Choi Suk Hee
- Cloud Bread (구름빵) by Baek Heena
- Watermelon Pool (수박 수영장) by Hello Moon
The resources and methods mentioned above are actually the most effective ones for learning Korean. All of these strategies and tools for learning Korean have been tried and evaluated by us personally. We found that the majority of them perform really effectively. If you’re just starting out with Korean, we highly recommend getting started with K-pop and K-dramas. Some popular apps for learning Korean, like Duolingo and Memrise, also work pretty well. The last thing we’ll mention is that learning Korean is not something you can do in a single day, but if you are motivated and determined enough to learn it, there are no limits to what you can achieve.