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How to study Korean: 7 tips for learning Korean

Discover why you should learn Korean and uncover 7 top tips for how to study Korean.

A teenage boy writing on a notebook with a laptop on his lap.

The Korean language is in high demand across the globe. Whether you’re keen to learn for fun, for travel, or to increase your employability skills, it’s a great language to pursue. 

Are you eager to start learning Korean? Here, we explore the benefits of learning Korean and discover 7 tips for how to study Korean. 

Why should I learn Korean? 

Perhaps the idea of learning Korean has piqued your interest, but you’re not sure if it’s worth learning. While it’s true that learning a new language can seem daunting, there are many benefits to learning Korean. Let’s explore a few reasons why you should learn Korean. 

Enrich your travel

Korea is a country rich in culture and full of exciting things to see and do. You can, of course, explore the country without any knowledge of the Korean language. Yet, while knowing the language isn’t essential, language skills could really help improve your trip.

With an understanding of the Korean language, you could order food in restaurants, chat with locals, ask for directions, and much more. You could even stay for an extended period to immerse yourself in the culture and improve your language skills. 

If you’re planning a trip to Korea anytime soon, you may find our Fun in Korea: Useful Expressions and Cultural Information for Travellers course useful. 

Increase career opportunities

Knowing a second language is always a great way to boost your career prospects. There is demand for bilingual positions, and just having an extra language on your CV could set you apart from other candidates. Knowing the Korean language, in particular, could give you an edge as it’s less commonly known by non-natives in comparison to languages such as French or Spanish. 

Knowing the Korean language is especially great for tech enthusiasts since South Korea is full of exciting tech roles. Some of the largest Korean companies with headquarters in South Korea include Samsung Electronics, Kia Motors, and Hyundai. 

Learn from Samsung on our platform with our Design the Future with Samsung course collection.

Recent years have seen an increase in demand for Korean language learning. Korean was even featured on our list of 10 in-demand languages to learn. By learning Korean, you’ll be future-proofing your career and opening opportunities for a variety of roles. 

The language is logical

Since the Korean language uses a different alphabet (hangeul), you may expect the language to be very tricky to grasp. Luckily, this is not the case. While other Asian languages can have complicated grammar rules, Korean makes much more sense to native English speakers. 

The alphabet is surprisingly easy to memorise, and unlike other languages, verbs do not need to be conjugated. Additionally, the Korean language is built on phonetics. Words are pronounced how they’re written, making it easy to speak and build sentences. 

It makes for a productive hobby

We’ve all been in a position where we want to take up a new hobby. If you find yourself with some spare time in your schedule and want to do something productive, learning Korean is a great way to spend your time. 

Language learning can be fun and also have a positive impact on mental health. Research has shown that learning can boost confidence and help develop your sense of purpose. So why not start utilising your free time and begin learning Korean?

Appreciate Korean culture

Korea is popular, amongst other things, for its contribution to music and television. If, like many others, you’ve been inspired to learn Korean as a result of this, we have good news for you. Learning the Korean language could let you appreciate and understand these things on a higher level. 

It’s no secret that K-dramas can be extremely engaging, even with subtitles. However, fully understanding the speech in Korean songs and television shows can make these experiences even more enjoyable. 

Can’t wait to get stuck into some Korean culture? Why not join our Intermediate Korean: Exploring the Language and Culture of Korea course? 

How to study Korean

So, we now know how amazing the Korean language is and how it could benefit you. But how do you go about learning the Korean language? Let’s look at how to study Korean: 

How to study Korean by yourself 

While having a study buddy can boost productivity, it’s perfectly plausible to learn the language by yourself. Online courses and resources are your best friend, and you can use available online videos to aid with speech practice. 

If nobody around you is familiar with the Korean language, you can also join an online language learning community. Forums, communities, and language learning apps are a fantastic way to share knowledge and wisdom virtually. 

What is the best way to learn Korean? 

The most effective way to study Korean is to find a method that suits you. Take into account your schedule and the amount of time you can afford to study. It’s important to remain consistent and ensure that your efforts align with your goals. 

We’ll discuss some tips for studying Korean in just a moment – we suggest you utilise these tips to build a study plan that fits your goals.  

How to learn the Korean alphabet

This should be one of the first steps in your Korean learning journey – once you’re familiar with the alphabet, you can start building your vocabulary. Making some flashcards or using a flashcard app is a great way to help memorise hangeul. 

You can combine these flashcards with mnemonics and visual associations. This is particularly useful for English native speakers as hangeul looks very different from the alphabet you may be used to. Attaching a story or an image to each letter in the alphabet can help you recall the letter to memory until you’re comfortable with using hangeul. 

For an in-depth view on learning the Korean alphabet, take a look at our Learn Korean Alphabet: An Introduction to Hangeul course. If you’d like to learn Korean numbers too, Hanyang University covers them in an easily-digestible open step. 

How long does it take to learn Korean?

The answer to this question will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. According to the Foreign Service Institute, it is estimated that English speakers need 2200 hours of study to become fluent in the Korean language. If your goal is not to reach complete fluency but instead to be conversational, you’ll reach your goal in less time.

It’s recommended that you spend an hour a day studying the Korean language to become fluent. However, keep in mind that each individual will have a different learning experience. Depending on your circumstances, it may take you less time or more time. 

Also, if you’re lucky enough to already be bilingual, you may be able to speed up your learning process. Studies have shown that those who already know a second language find it easier to learn an additional language. 

7 tips for learning Korean

By now you’re probably feeling ready to jump right in and start learning Korean. Before you drop everything and race off to learn, let us share with you a few tips to help you along your journey. 

Set clear goals

To ensure that you’re staying motivated and understand your aim for language learning, you should set very clear goals. Setting goals helps you pinpoint your long-term vision and can motivate you to utilise your time efficiently.

Nobody expects you to become fluent in Korean overnight – learning a language takes time. It’s important to give yourself enough time to thoroughly absorb the new information you’re learning. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable so that you can successfully work towards them. 

Find out how to set SMART goals for yourself in our open step from the University of Michigan.

Build your vocabulary 

Since language is a gradual process, you can’t expect to pick up all of the vocabulary immediately. Vocabulary is the basis of all languages and the most important part to consider when thinking about how to study Korean. 

What’s important is that you continually add to your vocabulary bank, expanding your knowledge of Korean words and phrases. As you practise your vocab, you’ll also become more comfortable with Korean speech and hangeul.

According to author Tony Buzan, 100 words comprise 50% of all words used in a conversation in a language. As part of your goal setting, why not add a daily goal for how many new words you’d like to learn? Let’s see if you can reach those core 100 words!

Learn Korean online

The internet is home to a wealth of information, so it only makes sense to utilise that as much as possible. Online learning is ideal if you want to fit your learning around work or school schedules since you can study anywhere and anytime. We’ve put together a list of useful courses to help you learn Korean online:

Immerse yourself in Korean television

To become familiar with the way that the Korean language is used and spoken, you should try to expose yourself to the language as much as possible. A fun way to do so is to watch Korean movies and television shows.

Renowned for being dramatic and packed full of interesting storylines, Korean media can help expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the language. Media can expose you to more colloquial language and actions that generic studying may not always showcase. 

The vocabulary used in television is authentic and can help you understand how the language is used in context. Try to take notes throughout and relate the experience to your learning.

Practice and be consistent

Another important factor to consider is how often you will practice your knowledge. For native English speakers, Korean is incredibly different from what you may be used to. While the language makes logical sense, it’s still going to take some time to grasp the language.

By frequently practising you’ll be able to keep your knowledge fresh and put your studying to good use. As well as practising your vocabulary, you should also practice your speech and writing. You can even try to find friends who are studying or are already fluent to help you practice and expand your knowledge of Korean. 

Learn all about how to study effectively in our Improving your Study Techniques course with the University of Groningen

Create a strong learning environment 

Cultivating an enjoyable learning environment may not seem crucial to learning, but it can have a strong impact. You’ll need to focus to pick up the Korean language, so studying in a space where you can do so at your best is important. 

Make sure that you’re learning spaces are free of disruptions and have everything you need to get going. Having a neat and organised workspace can even boost productivity and help boost productivity and morale. 

One of the great things about online study is that you don’t have to be confined to one set area. Move your study spaces around and change up the scenery while learning. Find out more tips for how to learn online with The Open University.

Utilise common words

Are you ready to get a headstart on building your Korean vocabulary? Here’s a secret – there are many Korean words that you’re already familiar with! The Korean language has plenty of words derived from the English language – these are known as loan words.

For example, the Korean word for chocolate is pronounced as chokollit. You can get started building your Korean word bank by taking time to remember the loan words. You could also utilise Konglish – a style of the English language used by Korean speakers. Konglish words are essentially a combination of both Korean and English words to create one word. 

Final thoughts

The Korean language is beautiful and useful and could open up a wide range of opportunities. We hope that these tips will help you pursue language learning and reach your goals. 

So, if you’re ready to absorb yourself in Korean culture or roam the streets of Seoul, why not sign up for one of our courses outlined above? Our Introduction to Korean course is the perfect place to start. Plus, once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be able to progress onto intermediate Korean. You’ll be fluent in no time! 

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