How to get started learning Korean!

Learn the Alphabet

The first step in your Korean studies should be learning the writing system. Romanization isn’t very accurate so not only will you mispronounce words, you won’t be able to understand them when spoken either.

Do not worry though! Hangul is considered one of the easiest alphabets to learn. It was designed to be easy and those funky symbols you see are actually representing the mouth shape for that character!

You can learn Hangul by watching youtube videos and many apps! I used and liked an app called “write it korean”. This will teach you stroke order and pronunciation.

I also recommend slowing down youtube videos and reading along to the lyrics. 

When handwriting hangul, fine tip utensils (<1.0mm) works best! And your handwriting will straighten itself out eventually so don’t stress about it.

Pick a Resource

At the end, I will give you several recommendations that either I used, or have seen others have success with. Keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. So don’t waste your time searching for “the best” resource. 

The best thing you can do to get started on your journey is to just pick something and start on chapter one! This source may not get you far, but it will get you started.

If you don’t like the source or you don’t seem to be learning much, move on to a different source! I also recommend having one main source for guidance on what to learn next and supplementing by googling the grammar point and reading different explanations online. Everyone explains things differently, so the more ways you see something explained, the more sense it will eventually make. Once you finally think you understand, create AT LEAST 3 (I personally do 6) example sentences and ask a native to correct them. If you used it correctly, move on to another grammar point! If you didn’t, read some more articles or ask the natives for example sentences.

Use Language Exchange Apps

Remember that these people are strangers! Be careful about sharing any personal information  and use internet safety!

Some popular ones are Hellotalk and Hilokal

Natives will be able to answer your questions and correct your sentences. They will expose you to new grammar points and vocabulary.

As a beginner, you want to pick partners with a high level in your native language. These users prefer to speak in their target language (your native language) so they are easy to converse with.

 As an intermediate, you want people with a low level so that you are forced to use your target language. 

Most partners don’t last long, but you only need someone to answer your questions for the day. So don’t stress if you struggle to make a “friend”. You don’t need one:)

My experience

 I started with “Rosetta Stone” and felt like I was getting nowhere. So I tried a few websites which didn’t hold my focus or weren’t well structured (I don’t remember them) before buying my first book “Learn Korean from Zero”! This is how I learned that textbooks worked better for me than websites. I have a poor attention span and websites are either super lengthy or lacking in examples and don’t have exercises to practice what you have learned. 

Textbooks tend to be short (sometimes too short,so I do supplement with websites) but I did better just working chapter by chapter. 

I also learn way more through example sentences than through lecture. 80% or so of my Korean was learned purely through example sentences. (I quit using Korean from Zero on the chapter about telling time) I asked a native to translate sentences using known vocabulary and that is how I unknowingly learned tons of grammar. I would ask “How do I say “learning korean is fun”?” and then I would think of similar sentences using the different irregular verbs (even if the sentence made no sense) and ask them to translate. This is how I learned how the irregular verbs are used in this kind of sentence. 

Learning best through examples is why howtostudykorean.com is my most favorite resource. They use a TON of example sentences (I have only read a few articles. I mostly just skip to the examples and skip their lecture completely).

Once I ran out of questions to ask, I started using “Korean Grammar in Use”. I would just open the book to a random page and study that. These explanations aren’t always the most in-depth, so I would google the grammar point that I was learning and read explanations as well as all of the example sentences from howtostudykorean.

After I learned 90% of the Grammar, I started studying by just searching stuff on naver. I would translate the articles and kpop songs,and this is how I increased my vocabulary. I also created lists over content I wanted to learn (notice how most of my lists are themed? like “magic vocab” “space vocab” etc.

It isn’t necessary to actively memorize vocabulary as long as you use the language everyday. Eventually you will use or see the word so many times that you finally remember it and dont have to look it up anymore when you see or want to use it.

Reading articles on naver, speaking to natives/other korean students, and listening to korean music/watching dramas is how you can immerse yourself in the language when nobody in your life uses it. 

And that is how I learned 🙂

The point of sharing my experience is to show you that you can’t know what works best for you until you find it. Experiment with different youtubers, apps, books, and websites until you finally feel like you are making progress 🙂

Most importantly, remember that this is HARD! Language learning requires hard work and dedication. So don’t stress if you learn slowly. Speed isn’t the point. As long as you stay consistent, you will make progress:)

SOURCES

INSTAGRAM!

@jeffkimieee @inakimieee @spixykorean @koreanjream @dailydoseof.korean @korean_eldo @hello_korean 

Once you follow them, more people teaching about korean will pop up on your feed

YOUTUBE!

go billy korean

Quick korean and culture series

Talk to me in korean (ttmik for short)

Korean unnie

Korean class 101

90 day korean

Catch the wave (this is a ttmik series focusing on similar words)

WEBSITES!

howtostudykorean.com 

Koreanclass101.com

90daykorean.com

Talktomeinkorean.com

TEXTBOOKS!

Learn Korean from Zero

Talk to me in korean (even if you don’t use their full source, you should checkout “news in korean” and “survival korean”)

Korean Grammar in Use

Elementary Korean

Korean 보이는 voca (Great for vocab expansion! Book is mostly in Korean with little English)

Korean Reader for Chinese Characters (teaches common hanja.)

Korean Reading with Culture (문화가 있는 한국어 읽기) (these books are purely in Korean so it is great to practice what you have learned and increase your vocabulary!) 

I DO NOT RECOMMEND “SEOUL UNIVERSITY” OR “SEJONG KOREAN” while I love these for review, I couldn’t imagine learning the info with these books alone. The explanations are greatly lacking because it is meant for use in school.

Apps!

“Drops” and “memrise” are vocab apps

“Teuida” is an app to practice listening and speaking with video dialogues

“Italki” is an online tutoring service

“Hinative” is an app where you can post a question and anyone can answer

“Hilokal” is an app where you can join a “board”. This board is basically a group voice chat. You can either participate or just listen. They also have teachers on there. So this is basically a free alternative to tutoring. It is more like an open online class, so the content won’t be catered towards you.

That’s all I have for now! Hope it helps to get you started:)

Published by Hannah & Shelbi

We are just 2 students who wish to share the love and joy of learning language through lesson posts and translations! We are doing this for fun, based on our experience and questions we ask native speakers. We are not fluent! Just passionate  ~ Hannah, Shelbi, and Jordan

2 thoughts on “How to get started learning Korean!

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