Learning a new language, like Korean can sound like an impossible task. Many people think that to learn a language, you have to move to the country of origin, or spend hours upon hours stuck behind books, studying and memorizing new words, and grammar rules. But traveling is expensive, and being stuck behind a book just studying, can be quite boring.
Below is a list of 20 amazing tips to help you learn, and master Korean in no time! Pick and choose between these and see which works best for you.
20 Steps to Master Korean
1. Learn Hangul (Korean Alphabet)
Imagine learning, reading, writing, or even speaking in English without having learned the alphabet in advance, it wouldn’t make sense, would it? The same goes for learning Korean. Many people only focus on Romanized Korean, which is useful if you only want to learn a few basic words. However, if you want to be able to speak, read, write and converse with people in Korean, then learning the Korean alphabet will help you learn the language faster.
Below is a table with some basic words, in English, Hangul, and Romanized Korean. We’ve also added the pronunciation of each of these words, below the table.
- Good Morning | 좋은아침이에요 | joeun-achimieyo
- Goodbye | 안녕히 계세요 | an-nyeoung-hi-gye-se-yo
- Please | 주세요 | ju-se-yo
- Thank You | 사합니다 | ga-sa-ham-ni-da
- You’re Welcome | 천만에요 | cheon-man-e-yo
2. Find a Korean tutor
Finding a tutor is one of the best ways to learn. Having someone who is fluent in Korean, or even a native speaker teach you the language, will hold great benefits for you. Not only will your vocabulary expand, but you’ll learn the correct pronunciation of words too. If you’re not looking for a tutor to teach you in person, there are various platforms where you can find online tutors.
If you don’t want to pay for a tutor, or you can’t afford it, don’t stress! There are many language learning apps out there to help you learn Korean. Language learning apps make language learning more fun, and will make learning Korean feel effortless. Maybe if you feel like scheduling a tutoring session, or installing an app to help you, isn’t your style, then try an online Korean course. Online courses break the study material up into smaller sections for students to deal with daily.
Whichever one of the above methods you choose to use, or maybe you use all of them, your Korean language learning journey is sure to be a smooth one, if you stick to these methods.
3. Focus on the Grammar
Grammar is the foundation of any language, it is what enables us to form and speak sentences. It even allows us to identify and name word groups in a given sentence. Grammar rules are different in Korean when compared to English, and that might sound scary, but there are also a few things that make Korean grammar easier to learn.
Given that many words and phrases have both a formal and informal tense, the grammar rules can seem quite daunting, but if you are dedicated and you focus on and study these rules, you will be able to speak Korean fluently and confidently in no time!
4. Know Your Learning Style
It’s natural to ask the people around you how they study, it helps you gain some insight and it can also help you adjust your study method, or even try a new one. There are various different ways to learn the same thing, and this includes learning Korean. However, it is important to know that everyone learns differently, I can read through my work several times and remember it, but my sister has to make extensive notes.
That is why it is important to figure out how you learn and stick to it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know exactly how to learn each section of the Korean language. This will also smooth out your language learning journey significantly.
5. Read Korean Short Stories
Reading is a fun activity that helps you relax, and now you can even use it to learn Korean. By reading in Korean you will expand your vocabulary, learn more grammar rules, and even learn more Hangul! If that doesn’t convince you to pick up a Korean book and start reading, I don’t know what will.
Korean short stories are a great way to get used to reading in Korean. As you read through these stories, you’ll likely come across words you don’t know. Look up the meaning of these words, as well as when, where, and how they are used in different instances to expand your vocabulary and learn Korean grammar all at the same time. Reading also allows you to express your thoughts more clearly, which will make conversing with native speakers easier.
There are many resources to find Korean short stories like Story Korean, which offer stories to beginner and intermediate learners. They have many traditional Korean short stories like The Goose that Laid Golden Eggs, The Good Brothers, and The Blue Bead. They also offer English translations and hints to help you understand Korean grammar and vocabulary better.
6. Break Vocabulary Down
There are so many words to learn, that you don’t know where to start! Try breaking down the words you need to learn into smaller parts. This way you will learn many new words all at the same time. By breaking up words into smaller parts, and learning each part’s meaning, you’ll be able to spot words with similar parts, and you’ll also be able to guess what the word could mean.
Here’s an example of how to break up the word for a toothpick in Korean:
이 = i | tooth
쑤시 = ssusi | to poke or pick
개 = gae | tool
이쑤시개 | issusigae | Toothpick
7. Use Flashcards
Flashcards are an amazing way to learn and memorize many concepts and words. Whether you do it by writing out the flashcards by hand or creating your own on a flashcard app, this is sure to give you the practice you need. Flashcards can help you learn words, grammar, and even Hangul characters!
For learning words, simply put the word in English on the front, with the word in Korean, written in Hangul, on the back. For learning Hangul characters, you can simply put the character on the front, and what sound it makes on the back of the flashcard. To really push your learning to the next level by using flashcards, try asking a friend or family member to quiz you and see how well you do.
8. Buy a Korean Textbook
If you don’t feel like hiring a tutor, using language learning apps or enrolling in an online Korean course, then you should look to buy a Korean textbook to help you learn. As with textbooks in school or university, these Korean textbooks contain a lot of information that is designed to help you learn the language efficiently. Textbooks can also contain practice questions, which you can do to test your skills and identify the areas that still need some work.
Go check out your local bookstores, or shop online to find the textbook that will suit your needs. When choosing a Korean textbook to use, keep an eye on the reviews of the book as well as the release date on it, you don’t want to learn dated Korean phrases that hardly get used anymore.
9. Use the Right Dictionaries
A dictionary is a handy tool to have, in any language. Dictionaries are filled to the brim with words for you to learn, and some even tell you the different tenses of the words and how to use them all! However, it is important to make sure you use the right dictionary, some will have slight differences in word meanings if it’s an older book, and it won’t have all the words in used now. Simple things like that can make or break your language learning journey. So if you go in search of a Korean dictionary, make sure it has everything in it that you’ll need.
10. Immerse Yourself in Korean Culture
Immersing yourself in Korean culture is a great way to get comfortable with the language, and it will certainly help you learn new words. You can immerse yourself in Korean culture, and the language in various different ways. You can try labeling common household objects and appliances, by sticking a sticky note to each object, this will regularly expose you to Korean and will help you learn new words for almost everything you own. Some other fun ways to immerse yourself are by, playing video games in Korean, writing out your to-do list in Korean, or you could try cooking with recipes written in Korean. Of course, if you want to spend more money on your immersion, you could always travel to Korea, to experience the language and culture in the most authentic way possible.
11. Set Clear Goals
Goals are what drive us to keep pushing on when we don’t really want to. When starting your Korean language learning journey, everything is still new and exciting, and you’re highly motivated. As time passes and your lessons start getting more intense, you start to lose the motivation you had. Without clear goals set for yourself, it’s easy to just quit when it gets tough.
But that’s why when you set goals, make sure you start off small and make your goals bigger as you progress. This way you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when achieving your small goals, and this will motivate you to keep working harder, towards the bigger, more difficult goals you set up for yourself.
12. Watch Korean Dramas and Turn on Subtitles
You have no doubt heard about the popular K-drama, Squid Game. K-dramas have unique and interesting storylines, that instantly draw in any viewer, but these shows aren’t just for entertainment anymore. I’ve watched Squid Game, and a few other K-dramas, and I picked up quite a lot of Korean words and phrases while watching these (with English subtitles on).
What makes K-dramas such a useful tool to help you learn Korean, is the fact that the characters and storylines are so unique that it captures your attention from the get-go. By binge-watching these shows, you will be expanding your vocabulary and learning grammar without even realizing it. It’s definitely one of the most fun ways to learn Korean.
13. Practice Everyday
“Practice makes perfect” these words have been said by teachers, parents, and even friends around us. We’ve all heard these words over and over, so many times that you’ve, no doubt, started saying it to yourself and people around you too. Well, the reason it’s such a popular saying is, because it’s true!
As you practice something over and over again, you start to realize that it gets easier, and eventually, it’s so easy you can do it in your sleep. This is because you start to see your mistakes, and your brain works to find a solution to the problem it’s faced with. So as you practice Korean grammar or whichever section of the language you struggle with, your brain will eventually find the easiest solution to your problem, and that’s when you’ve finally mastered the section you’ve been having trouble with. Practicing Korean every day will also help you memorize words, and phrases faster.
14. Try to Join Language Exchange Communities
A language exchange community is a platform on which you can find a language partner who speaks Korean, and who is interested in learning English. Thus, you two will literally be exchanging languages. There are several websites you can use to find a language partner, once you’ve found a partner you can meet online, or even face-to-face (if possible).
The way this works is, that when you and your partner meet up you agree to a 50:50 usage split of your languages, so for the first half of your meeting you both speak English, and for the second half, you both speak Korean. This will help you learn conversational Korean, in a relaxed setting, and if you struggle feel free to ask your partner for help. By regularly meeting up, and speaking Korean to someone you get along with, you’ll get the hang of grammar and pronunciation in no time!
15. Switch Your Phone Language to Korean
We all spend many hours a day on our phones, either for work or entertainment. But now your phone can also be used to help you interact with the Korean language. You can almost instinctively find any app on your phone, because you use it so often, and because it’s in a language you’re used to. By changing your phone’s language setting to Korean, you’ll have no choice but to learn, if you want to find your favorite apps, send texts and make phone calls. This way you’ll learn many new Korean words, in all those hours you spend on your phone.
16. Pick a Korean Podcast
A podcast is a series of spoken word, audio episodes which all focus on a specific topic. There’s a wide variety of podcast topics out there, but you’ll most likely want to focus on the ones that will help you learn Korean. By listening to someone speak the language, and explain certain parts of the language, you’ll be practicing pronunciation, listening and grammar all at the same time, and you might even pick up a few new words.
There are various apps you can use to find Korean podcasts on like, Spotify, Audible, and Podbean. You can also search YouTube for some channels dedicated to podcasts like Korean Full Course, which offers a range of podcasts on many topics of the Korean language, from learning Hangul to counting in Korean.
17. Watch Korean News
Watching the news in Korean will help you learn grammar, proper pronunciation and will teach you a whole bunch of new words. It will also help you gain some insight into the country itself, the culture, and the people of the country. If you are learning Korean to someday move there for work, it’s very important to get to know the country you plan to move to, and what better way to do this than to watch the news of that country?
18. Learn to Sing Some Korean Songs
There are many Korean songs out there for you to listen to. Listening to music in the language you are learning is a very effective way to learn the language’s grammar and pronunciation. By listening to different songs, from different artists you will be exposed to a range of new words and phrases to learn! Music also expresses ideas differently than a daily conversation does, so this way you’ll be learning different ways to express your thoughts and feelings. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a group you really like, and become a fan for life.
19. Start From Learning Daily Conversations
When we were learning our first language as children, we are taught small words, and then sentences. So in essence we are taught to speak first before we moved on to grammar, and writing skills. This can also be applied to Korean, or any other language you aim to learn. No matter how well you can read words, memorize certain phrases and grammar rules when it comes to speaking Korean, or understand native speakers, your theoretical knowledge of the Korean language can only do so much.
That’s why it is important to find a language buddy or someone you can have conversations with in Korean. When you have a conversation with someone, you don’t have time to check your notes and reply, you are forced to rely on the skills you’ve acquired, to listen to, understand what is being said, and formulate an appropriate response.
20. Review What You’ve Learned Everyday!
Reviewing the work you have learned is very important as it helps us retain the information. So make time in your language learning schedule for reviewing sessions too. If you don’t review your work, your memory of what you’ve learned will begin to fade, and it’ll feel like you have to learn it all over again. But by reviewing what you’ve learned each week, you will be moving the information you’ve learned from short-term memory storage to long-term memory storage. And the more times you review your work the easier it’ll become for you to memorize and recall it.
1. Is Korean really hard to Learn?
Korean is ranked as one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, but it is not impossible. If you take the right approach to learn Korean, it’ll be way easier than you’d expected. Make sure to practice every single day and work hard towards the goals you have set for yourself.
2. How long does it take to learn Korean?
The time it takes you to learn Korean, will depend on how much time you spend learning the language daily. If you spend 6 or more hours a day learning Korean, you will be able to reach fluency within a year. However, nobody has 6 hours a day to learn a language. If you spend 20 minutes a day learning Korean, it’ll take almost 20 years to reach fluency.
3. Are K-Pop songs helpful to learn Korean?
If you’re a genuine fan of a certain K-pop group like Stray Kids or BTS, you’ve definitely picked up some Korean words, without even realizing it. So yes, K-pop songs are helpful if you want to learn Korean. These songs will teach you new words, phrases, and expressions.
Here’s a link to some cool K-pop songs:
4. Do I really need to find a Korean tutor to help me?
Learning a language on your own is quite difficult. You might be thinking that you’re pronouncing certain words perfectly when in reality you could be just a little off. And if you’re learning a language on your own, you only rely on your own dedication to motivate yourself to stick to your learning schedule. By hiring a Korean tutor you can learn the correct pronunciation of all words, and phrases, from a native speaker. Tutors can also force you to stick to a schedule, to complete certain tasks by a certain time, and will also give you feedback on your performance. So all in all, hiring a Korean tutor is definitely worth it.
5. How much does a Korean tutor cost?
A Korean tutor can cost anywhere from $25 – $55 per hour. Some tutors offer a trial lesson, to see if you enjoy the way the lessons are presented, and these can cost $6 – $10. But ultimately the price will probably also depend on the tutor, as well as the length of the course you are enrolling in.
Kkeut | 끝 | The End
Learning Korean will give you a better understanding of the country and its culture, it will open up many new opportunities for you, and will definitely help you fit in if you plan on traveling or even moving to Korea.
This article was filled with wonderful tips on the best ways to learn Korean. It can seem quite daunting if you haven’t started learning Korean yet. But take it slow, read through the article slowly, and take notes of these tips. If you want to learn any other languages, and you’re wondering what’s the best way to learn a language, or you want to read similar articles, check out AmazingTalker.