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10 Useful Tips For Learning Korean


10 Useful Tips For Learning Korean

Artur Tron

There are ten ways to quickly learn Korean that may surprise you. To begin with, it would be nice to know that Korea is in 11th place in terms of economics in the world. In addition, more than 77 million people speak Korean , and Korea ranks 21th in the list of languages by the number of speakers. If you may want to learn a language for work, just for fun, for watching dramas in the original, or for understanding songs and singing along to your favorite Korean artists. There are several approaches that will advance you to be fluent in the language. And so, I would like to present to you 10 tips.

1. Learn Hangul
At the very beginning of learning any foreign language, you need to thoroughly master the alphabet. This will be a great start on your way to language acquisition. In fact, the Korean alphabet is not as complicated as it might seem at first glance compared to the other Asian languages. Unlike other languages that evolved from pictograms, Hangul was invented by King Sejong in 1443. It was created with the aim of being as simple as possible for the people. Prior to the adoption of Hangul, Koreans used Chinese characters. Hangul alphabet consists of 24 letters (14 consonants and 10 vowels). The shape of the consonants is based on the form that the mouth takes at the time of pronunciation. Vowels simply consist of vertical and horizontal lines. To say that you can learn Hangul in just two hours is no exaggeration. Another plus is that Hangul is a completely phonetic language. That is, it almost always sounds like it is written (with the exception of a few pronunciation rules, but they can be learned very quickly). For example, more than 60% of words in English contain letters that simply cannot be read (knee, wrist, daughter, island, etc.). Hangul in this regard is much simpler and easier to master. Depending on the status of the interlocutor, you need to choose a speech style. If you are a beginner, then you should start with an officially polite style.

2. Build your vocabulary
Having once mastered Hangul, you can begin to form your vocabulary. Better to start with numbers (both Korean and Chinese numerals are used in Korea), days of the week, and simple conversational phrases. Then add words that are related to your reason for learning a language. If you decide to learn Korean for the upcoming trip, pay more attention to the words related to the direction of movement and transport. Do you like Korean food? Then work on food-related words. And be sure to write the words in a notebook as you learn new ones. This will help you practice writing and capture words in your memory. The effect of memorization will be much better if you imagine a picture or a funny story.

3. Loanwords and Konglish-words are your friend

Korean has many words of loanwords and Korean-style English words which are called “Konglish” (Korean + English). Such words make up a significant part of everyday vocabulary. Borrowed words are words that sound and mean the same as English words. They are easy to remember, because they sound like English, though with a Korean accent.

For example:

컵 (keop) = cup

카페 (ka-pe) = cafe
초콜릿 (cho-kol-lit) = chocolate

카메라 (ka-me-ra) = camera

택시 (taek-si) = taxi
인터넷 (in-teo-net) = internet

Other konglish words sound like English words, but have a different meaning. Koreans often shorten some English word to make a new konglish word:

에어컨 (air-con) = air conditioner

노트 (note) = notebook

Search basic konglish words online and you will be surprised at how many Korean words you already know.

4. Surround yourself with Korean
Try to do it every day - this is the best way to keep information in your head. You can also change the language on your phone or write reminder notes for scheduled daily activities in Korean. Surrounding yourself with Korean does not mean exhausting yourself by studying every day hourly. On the contrary, you can reasonably spend your free time. To practice Korean, you can use the time while you get to work or lunch break – get benefit from this. Test yourself with the help of training cards or download some interesting educational games on your phone. If you often drive and use hands-free, then listening to audiobooks and podcasts which is right for you. Free time is always there if you really want to quickly learn the Korean language.

5. Define your type of learning
One of the simple, but extremely important methods for quickly learning a language is to determine your individual type of learning. There are three main types: (a) visual (visual memory works well); (b) auditory ( information is better absorbed and stored by ear); (c) kinetic (memorization using movements). While some students apply all three types, you can use your own basic one, which will help maximize the effectiveness of training. Having understood the methods that are suitable for your type of training, you will be happy to discover that learning and memorizing new words is much faster.

6. Work with Korean teachers
Structural study using private lessons with an experienced tutor will provide you with an additional impetus, which is simply necessary for a short way in learning. The tutor will not only help you deal with the difficulties and tricks in grammar but also make you be responsible for achieving goals. A good Korean teacher will focus on your learning style and apply an individual lesson plan. One-on-one classes with a professional teacher will allow you to learn a language much faster, regardless of what goal you pursue (work or personal interest).

7. Find companions / Korean friends
Spending more time in talking is without a doubt the best way to improve your language skills. Find Korean language groups nearby on sites like Meetup. If there are no Korean communities near you, you can also try to find a companion on forums and groups on Facebook, for example. Commit to meet with your language partner weekly, and of course, set the rule to communicate only in Korean. Instead of just chatting every week, prepare topics for conversation in advance, thereby getting a more detailed conversation. Another communication option is to use KakaoTalk, the most widely used communication application in Korea. There is a chance that your Korean friend will be your language friend and he will certainly install this application on your phone. Practicing communication with a native speaker of Korean, you will learn slang, idioms and improve your pronunciation.

8. Engage in groups
As you learn the language, you may encounter many interesting and funny moments, but over time, your motivation may decline. Try to find new ways to remain interested in learning and refresh ordinary activities, for example, start practicing in groups with people who are similarly minded to you. Group classes of the Korean language, in contrast to self-study, are more dynamic. You can interact with other students, and the teacher can immediately answer all your questions. This is another great way to enhance your speaking skills while improving grammar and pronunciation.

9. Watch K-dramas and listen to K-pop
Add more Korean to your daily life: watch dramas, films, TV shows, thereby increasing your vocabulary. Include subtitles, if possible, and write and learn all unfamiliar words. After some time, you will be surprised at the ability of your brain to compare words and phrases with their meaning, even if you did not have time to thoroughly learn them. Another good habit in learning a language is listening to Korean songs or radio. After listening to the song once, you are unlikely to understand something. Try to find keywords and collect from them a common meaning. Then you can sing along while listening - this is a good option to improve the pronunciation.

10. Full immersion in Korean social life
If you have time and money, the best way to learn the language is to be completely immersed in Korean culture. Organize a trip to Korea and you will be forced to talk and read at every step. Of course, many Koreans will be able to speak English with you, but try to communicate only in Korean. As a last resort, explain that you are learning the language.

All these tips are very useful in order to quickly learn the Korean language, but without specific goals, you will feel overwhelmed by taking this whole stream of new information. To create a learning strategy, set reasonable goals. It will include useful steps that will motivate you to achieve new goals. Instead of vague goals, for example, “I want to quickly learn Korean”, set the detailed ones: “By the end of this month, I want to learn how to order in a Korean restaurant in Korean” or “At the end of this week, I want to write a whole paragraph in Hangeul”. Think about your reasons for learning Korean. Set specific, tangible, achievable, and realistic goals that are tied to specific deadlines and always remain focused. Finally, if you go this far, obviously you are very serious about learning Korean. Do not despair when you make mistakes and do not be afraid to leave your comfort zone in order to practice speaking skills more. Native speakers will be pleased to help you and they will appreciate your efforts. Learning a language will take a lot of time and requires effort. But worthwhile business is never easy. Therefore, always remember what inspired you to learn the language and celebrate every time you reach a certain goal. This will turn out to be incredibly pleasant when, looking back, you will understand how much you already know (read, write and speak Korean). Now that you know the best tips for learning a language quickly, you can start. While some sources say that you can learn Korean in 2,000 hours, all of these tips will surely speed up the process. You can do it. 파이팅.


[2] https://www.ethnologue.com/guides/ethnologue200

[4] https://www.korean.go.kr/front_eng/roman/roman_01.do
[5] https://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?cid=46662&docId=2458624&categoryId=46662 (in Korean)

[6] http://www.nl.go.kr/ask/infoguide/view.jsp?recKey=5563739 (in Korean)
[7] Choi, J.B. and Maliangkay, R. eds., 2014. K-Pop: the international rise of the Korean music industry. London: Routledge
[8] https://www.listchallenges.com/top-100-k-dramas
[9] Chung, Ah-young, K-Drama: A New TV Genre with Global Appeal. Korean Culture and Information Service. 2011. eBook. p.67

[10] http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.jsp