How to Learn Korean
Learning Korean is Easier than you Think
The Korean language is a difficult one to learn but it's not as hard as you think, especially if you live in Korea and put a little bit of effort into studying Korean everyday. There are plenty of resources out there to help you learn Korean. I list the ones that have been most helpful for me. Try them all, but pick and choose what works for you. Annyeong-Hee Ka-Ship-She-Yo!
Learning to read is the first step to learning Korean
The first thing you need to do to learn Korean is to learn the alphabet. It's not that hard to learn because it works phonetically and it's actually easier than English. There are no exceptions and it's a very scientific language. Study for a few hours and you'll have the basics down.
A simple way to do this would be to use this most excellent site:
Look under "Introductory Korean" and it will walk you through the steps of learning how to read.
I like it because it's free and you don't have to go out and buy some book. Plus, because you'll actually hear the sounds, you won't be learning some wrong transliteration like some textbooks give you. And, they also have some little practice quizzes so you can mark your progress.
The Korean Alphabet
Learning the Korean Alphabet on Youtube
Rosetta Stone Korean
This is the best of the programs that you can buy to help you learn Korean. It's especially helpful in providing quality input if you don't live in Korea, but perhaps are trying to learn in preparation for your trip. It's expensive, but well-worth it to help get you listening and speaking in an effective way.
Addicted? Take a Korean class!
Are you starting to get the hang of things yet? Excited that you can tell the taxi driver how to get to your house, or that you can walk into a new restaurant and order off the menu. Can you ask the bus driver where he's going or figure out what time the train is leaving? Good for you! But maybe you want to do more.
You can check around your city for some Korean lessons or language exchange. Many of the big universities in Seoul have intensive programs if you're really serious about it. Or, why don't you find a Korean friend and do a study session with them.
To learn Korean, you need to be Observant
The next step once you've mastered reading it to just be observant. You're in a new country, so go out and explore what's around you. Have some little adventures in your neighborhood and to further places. Try reading the destinations on the bus to see where you can go. Find the flower shops and learn the word for flower. Find the car shop and learn the word for car. If you are curious about something, look it up in your Korean dictionary, or ask your friend. Hang around with the expats who've been here a while and they'll be able to teach you a few things. Go to a new restaurant, get out your cell-phone dictionary and figure out what you want to order. Listen to the words that your students say over and over again and ask your co-teacher what they are.
What's the best way to learn Korean?
Resources to study Korean
Make some Korean friends to help you in your Korean language study
Language is a social kind of thing. If we're alone, it seems kind of strange that we'd even need language. Its main purpose is to help us communicate with other people. So it makes sense that learning a language is a social kind of thing. Wanting to go traveling and see other places, or dating the locals in a country can be the serious motivation you need to master a second language. If you're serious about really learning Korean, you need to make some Korean friends, and not just the ones who are fluent in English. Join a club or class. Go out to the local mountain and talk to the old ajumas and ajoshis. Strike up a conversation on the subway with a student. Once you do this you'll learn Korean faster than you ever though possible.
Flashcards for Korean vocab
Learning 1000 Words in a language will allow you to understand almost 90% of oral communication. So, it's time to learn some vocab. The best way to do this is to make flashcards that you can shuffle up. You can buy these cards at any local Korean stationary store. If you memorize them in the same order every time, your brain doesn't really have to work as hard. Start with 10 and memorize them. Then add 10 more and memorize them. Now mix your 2 sets together and you have 20. Go from there. Try to add 5 or 10 words a day and you'll be a Korean star in no time flat.
Here is a nice list of 894 beginner Korean words.
or do a Google search. There are lots more lists out there.
Resources for Korean language students
Grammar Study is essential to learn Korean
Once you've started learning some vocabulary, you'll need some grammar to go along with it if you want to be able to actually speak something coherently. There are lots of good books out there. See the list below for my recommendations. But, if you want to do it online, use Sogang University's site. It's most helpful. Start at the novice level and go from there. Don't forget to write down what you're learning and review before you start the new stuff everyday.
Korean classes in Seoul
Youtube to learn Korean online
Once you've started doing some online or book study, and flashcards you might start to get a little bit bored. Well, why don't you try watching some videos? The best ones that I've found that are available for free are from Arirang. They have a series called , "Let's Speak Korean." It's interesting and well-paced so that even a beginner can figure it out. Here's the first lesson:
Keep a Notebook to help you learn Korean
This is an idea that has helped a lot of language learners. Carry around a little notebook and pen with you. As you learn new words and phrases, make sure you write them in your book. You can organize your book into categories such as: vocab, phrases, grammar points, etc. Or you can organize the vocab even further into nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs.
Then, when you have a bit of free time on the bus or at work, review your notebook.
Find a Language Exchange Partner
An excellent way to help you learn Korean is to find a language exchange partner. They should be easy to find. Just have a look around online on places like Craigslist, or some of the dating sites. Or, just ask some of your coworkers if they're interested.
I've found language exchanges work best if you each bring the material that you're studying. Maybe you have a question, or don't know how to pronounce something. You can ask your partner. They can also help you with your homework and check to make sure you got it right. Another way to do this would be to each write on a certain topic and get your partner to correct it for you.
How to Get an English Teaching Job at a South Korean University
Go Places and Do Stuff to Practice your Korean
What motivated me most to learn Korean was traveling around Korea and getting involved in lots of local activities. It's not that easy to get where you need to go in Korea without some basic language skills. Almost all restaurant menus and bus schedules are written in Korean. People at cheap motels that you might want to stay at will probably speak no English. Maps are usually just in Korean.
Now, when I travel around I can ask for directions in Korea, or negotiate a room price, or walk into an unfamiliar restaurant and order off the menu. It makes my life happy and enjoyable!
Listen to some Learning Korean Podcasts
There are a multitude of podcasts to help you learn Korean. Just go to the Itunes store and do a basic search under podcasts and you'll find plenty of choices. Try them out and see which ones are at your level and fit with your personality. Practice on the bus, train, or when walking to your job or school.
Talk to me in Korean
Interested in Teaching at a Korean University?
- My Life! Teaching in a Korean University
If you get a university job in South Korea, you'll have plenty of opportunities to study Korean in your spare-time.