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Learning a language is difficult, but finding the right resource can make the process more enjoyable. You can use this Korean language guide to find a way that fits your learning style and language goals. Whether you prefer a more traditional method like books or courses, or want to explore more modern ways to learn like apps and podcasts, this guide can help you find a method that’s right for you.
You may have noticed in the past few years the explosion of Korean culture in mainstream media. From K-pop to movies and TV series, this influx of culture has led to an expanded interest in learning Korean. It’s also one of the most spoken languages in the world with 81.7 million speakers, so learning Korean can be useful for culture, travel, and even job opportunities.
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Table of Contents
How to Learn Korean: Follow These Steps to Become Fluent Fast!
The good news is that you don’t need to take a trip to Seoul to start learning Korean. There are a wide variety of ways you can learn from the comfort of your home. But there’s no perfect method to becoming fluent. The resources below each have their strengths, but can’t cover every skill needed to learn a language. It’s best to use multiple ways to fill in any gaps that one resource might have. For example, you can learn basic grammar and vocabulary with an app, and watch YouTube videos to improve listening and understanding.
1. Use the Best Korean Apps
Language apps are a helpful way to start your Korean learning journey. There are so many out there that you are sure to find one that works for you. Some apps have quick lessons that focus on vocabulary, while others offer complete courses. Three of the best language apps to learn Korean are Rocket Korean, Pimsleur, and Drops. All three are popular with language learners and have thousands of downloads.
Rocket Korean is the best overall app to learn Korean because it has detailed lessons that teach every skill related to language learning, including writing the Korean alphabet and pronunciation. The lessons also teach interesting cultural notes and how culture affects the language. You can try Rocket Korean for free for 7-days or read more about it in this Rocket Korean review.
Pimsleur is an excellent choice if you like to learn on the go. The lessons are audio-based so you can listen to them anywhere. Pimsleur focuses on conversation and pronunciation to get you speaking quickly. You listen to a conversation between native speakers in each lesson and learn how to replicate what they said. Pimsleur offers a 7-day trial so you can try it for free, or you can read more about the app in this Pimsleur review.
Drops is a beautifully-designed app that focuses on vocabulary. There are tons of vocabulary lists that teach common Korean words as well as more specialized vocabulary such as politics, science, and even climate awareness. Each word has a unique animation that helps you remember what it means. You can use Drops for free for 5 minutes every day to test it out. You can also read more about it in this Drops review.
2. Take an Online Korean Course
Taking an online course to learn Korean is useful if you prefer a structured way to learn. Courses follow a set curriculum, and there is continuity in your learning since the course builds upon what you’ve already learned in previous lessons. The three courses listed below, 90 Day Korean, First Step Korean, and Udemy, are high-quality options that will help you learn Korean effectively and thoroughly.
The concept behind 90 Day Korean is that, if you follow the structured course, you will be able to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean at the end of the 90 days. But it doesn’t stop there. You can continue with the different levels, each broken down into 90-day periods with clear learning goals. There is a strong focus on learning Korean using Hangul, a more effective way to learn than by using the romanized version (Korean words written out phonetically using the Latin alphabet). You can try a free lesson and see if 90 Day Korean is a good choice for you.
First Step Korean is a popular course on the Coursera platform. Over 1 million people have taken the course and it has a 4.9/5 star rating! It’s designed to help complete beginners learn the basics of Korean. The course focuses on all necessary language learning skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to read and write the Korean alphabet, as well as use basic expressions. You can access all the course material for free, or pay for a certificate that will appear on your LinkedIn profile. Or read more about it in this Coursera review.
If you are looking for a bigger course selection to choose from, you can look at Udemy. It’s a massive online platform that has courses for every subject imaginable. Currently, there are over 150 Korean courses, many of which are free. There are many topics to choose from, like learning common Korean expressions, the alphabet, and Korean culture. You can explore all of the Korean courses Udemy has to offer, or read more about the platform in this Udemy review.
3. Find an Online Korean Tutor
There’s no doubt that talking with native speakers is one of the best ways to improve your Korean conversation skills. But not everyone knows somebody who speaks Korean or has access to a private teacher. Luckily, there are platforms like italki, Preply, and Verbling that can connect you with an online tutor. This is a convenient option because you can take classes at home whenever fits your schedule.
Italki has hundreds of Korean tutors for you to choose from. You can filter them by their price, availability, and even what additional languages they speak. Since tutors set their own prices, there is a range of options so you can find one that fits your budget. There are also past student reviews so you can see what other students thought about the class. Most tutors have discounted trial lessons so you can see if you like them. If you’re interested in italki, you can read more about it in this review.
Preply is similar to italki. You can search for a tutor using different criteria and find one that fits your schedule and budget. Preply tutors make their own curriculum, so it’s important that you read the reviews to see what kind of lesson you will get. Preply lets you take a free trial class before booking with a tutor, and if you aren’t satisfied with your tutor, they’ll automatically book another trial class for you for free. Try out a free trial lesson, or learn more about Preply in this review.
Verbling is another platform where you can search for a Korean tutor. The difference is that Verbling only hires teachers with qualifications and past teaching experience. Verbling is similar in price to the other platforms on this list and there is a range of prices to choose from. Most teachers offer a free trial class so you can see if you like the teacher and platform before buying more classes. You can also read more about it in this Verbling review.
4. Study with High-Quality Korean Books
While most of the other options on this list involve using technology, books keep it simple and have always been an effective way to study. But thanks to sites like Amazon, you can find the best book possible by reading reviews and sometimes previewing the content. The books on this list, Talk To Me In Korean, Read and Speak Korean for Beginners, and Korean Made Simple all have great reviews and have been purchased hundreds of times.
Talk To Me In Korean is specifically designed for independent learners. It teaches the basics of the language and focuses on conversational Korean that you would hear in everyday situations. It also includes practice questions and an answer guide. Now, you can even download a set of MP3 files to hear the pronunciation, example sentences, and dialogues that are in the book. You can read customer reviews here to see if Talk To Me In Korean is a good choice for you.
Read and Speak Korean for Beginners makes learning Korean accessible and entertaining. In addition to important grammar and vocabulary explanations, there are also quizzes, games, puzzles, and flashcards that make learning Korean fun. There are also audios that you can listen to via an app. See what other reviewers thought of Read and Speak Korean.
Korean Made Simple is a guide to Korean culture as well as the language. It focuses on the importance of learning Hangul first in order to make the learning process easier. The book covers important grammar, vocabulary, and conversation topics, and has practice questions woven into the chapters. There are audio files available, but they only cover a limited portion of what’s in the book. See what other reviewers thought about Korean Made Simple.
5. Watch Korean YouTube Videos
Watching YouTube Videos is truly an entertaining way to learn Korean. There are instructional videos that use images and visualizations to teach difficult topics while others focus on Korean lifestyle and culture. Many people suggest using YouTube videos to learn Hangul before beginning with another resource like an app or a book. Finding a quality YouTube channel can be time-consuming, but the channels listed below are both educational and entertaining.
Minji publishes short, high-energy videos in Korean and English. She focuses on a small chunk of the language, such as how certain syllables can change the meaning of words or how to say short phrases. Her subscribers are called Minjions and she has over 200,000 of them! She posts new videos on Thursdays and Sundays, so you can see if Minji can help you.
Billy is from the United States but has lived in Korea and spent many years perfecting his Korean. Since he isn’t a native speaker, he helps explain the topics that might be difficult for English speakers when they learn Korean. He has playlists on his channel that you can watch in order to give structure and are easier to follow than most YouTube channels. He posts new videos every week so there’s always new content.
You can find all kinds of videos on the Your Korean Saem channel (formerly called All Things Korean). There are videos about Korean grammar, pronunciation, and culture. Saem's explanations are clear and insightful. Her videos are a great way to pick up some useful tips about learning Korean.
6. Listen to Korean Podcasts
Podcasts are a relatively new way to practice a language. They’re easy and convenient because you can listen to them anytime and anywhere. They’re a great way to practice listening and understanding, something that other resources leave out. KoreanClass101, Let’s Learn Korean, and Learn Korean the Easy Way all have interesting podcasts that have native Korean speakers so you can hear the correct pronunciation and how Koreans really speak.
KoreanClass101 has thousands of podcast-style lessons available. The lesson topics range from typical language topics like vocabulary and grammar, but also include lessons on Korean cultural topics like holidays and traditions. Additionally, three are tons of extra resources like a grammar bank, videos, and vocabulary lists. You can sign up for a free KoreanClass101 account and receive new lessons every week, or read more about it in this KoreanClass101 review.
Let’s Learn Korean podcasts are simple and get to the point. Each lesson focuses on a place that you might encounter on a trip to Korea such as the airport, taxis, and visitor centers. You can learn specific vocabulary to use at each place and listen to dialogues between native speakers. It’s not flashy, but it’s an excellent free resource, especially if you’re planning to travel to Korea.
Learn Korean the Easy Way is a series of podcast lessons available on Spotify. They follow a set course, so you can learn Korean in a logical way if you follow the order. Some of the lessons are quite long, so make sure you set aside enough time to listen before jumping in. Check out some of the lessons on Spotify.
How to Learn Korean Fast: Tips and Tricks
There’s no magic secret to learning Korean quickly. It takes focus, dedication, and many, many hours of practice. But there are some things you can do to steadily improve. The most important is to be consistent. It’s much more beneficial to study on a regular basis than to have long cram sessions every now and then. Most apps and courses encourage you to set a learning routine and stick with it.
Another way to keep motivated is to find the resource that’s right for you. Everybody has a different learning style so what works for one person might not be as beneficial for somebody else. And since now there are so many tools available, it’s important to do your research to make sure you’re using something that’s truly worth your time and effort.
How to Learn Korean: Final Thoughts
I hope this list can help guide you to finding the best way for you to learn Korean. Whether you’re just starting out or have a more advanced level, finding the right learning resource will help you stay motivated in your studies. Start with this list, but then read reviews, and check out the free trials if available to ensure that you’re getting something that fits your learning style and language goals.
Want to learn more? Check out our Korean resource page.
How to Learn Korean: FAQ
The US Department of State classifies Korean as a very difficult language for English speakers to learn and estimates that it will take 2200 hours to reach a proficient level. This is because of significant linguistic differences between the Korean and English languages.
To see how long it will take you to learn Korean, check out this fluency calculator.
The best way to learn Korean quickly is to dedicate many hours to studying and practicing. You’ll also need a variety of different resources to practice all language skills and have a well-rounded approach to Korean.
To learn Korean at home, you can use a language app, take an online course, or even take online lessons with a native Korean tutor. There are many options available so you’re sure to find one that you enjoy.
Korean is a difficult language to learn for English speakers. It has significant linguistic differences. For example, the languages use different alphabets and different sentence structures. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to learn Korean. It only means that you might need to dedicate more time to studying than a language that’s more closely related to English, such as Spanish or Italian.
The best way to learn Korean fluently is to use a variety of resources. No one resource can successfully help you learn all important language skills, so it’s important to try to fill in the gaps. For example, you could use a language app or book to learn basic grammar and vocabulary, but once you reach a more advanced level, you might need to continue your studies with a Korean teacher and take classes online.
There are many ways to learn Korean for free. Language apps like KoreanClass101 and Clozemaster offer a lot of content for free, and Duolingo offers its entire Korean course for free, but you have to watch ads. YouTube channels are always free. You can also check with your library to see if they have any Korean books you can check out or if they have a free subscription to Mango Languages.