The amount of time it takes to learn Korean will vary depending on several factors, including your prior language learning experience, the amount of time you dedicate to studying and practicing Korean, and your level of immersion in the language.
Generally, it takes around 2,200 hours of study for a native English speaker to reach a high level of proficiency in Korean, according to the US Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This means that if you study for an average of 2 hours per day, it would take you around 3-4 years to become proficient in Korean.
However, it’s important to note that everyone’s language learning journey is different, and you may progress at a faster or slower rate depending on your individual circumstances.
How Many Hours Per Day Should I Study Korean?
This will depend primarily on your goals – the level you wish to reach and how much quality study time you have available.
If you want to gain fluency, it will take 2,200 quality learning hours. If you study for two hours per day, that’s 1,100 days or slightly over 3 years.
If you are able to dedicate your time to learning Korean as if were a full time job and study 8 hours per day (by taking a university course, for example) it would take you 275 days.
When deciding how long you should study, you should think about the level you want to reach and how much quality study time is available.
What Do You Mean By Quality Study Time?
Not all studying is created equally!
For example, listening to BTS will certainly help with your vocabulary and grammar, but spending 2,200 hours listening to their songs on repeat will not help you reach fluency in Korean. It will only gain you fluency in song lyrics.
You should think about the best way you learn for the different skills needed to gain proficiency in Korean.
Is Korean Easier If I Already Have Another Language?
Maybe! If you have experience of learning a language with another alphabet, you will be used to the techniques for learning new letters and symbols, so that will make learning hangul easier.
If you already speak an East-Asian language, you will find some similarities between some pieces of vocabulary. For example, in Japanese we say キリン (kirin) for giraffe, which is 기린 (girin) in Korean. Baseball in Japanese in 野球 (yakyuu) in Japanese and 야구 (yagu) in Korean. Easy in Japanese is 簡単 (kantan) and 간단 (gandan) in Korean.
In the same way, both Mandarin and Cantonese have similarities with Korean in pronunciation of words. So, time in Korean is 시간 (shi gan) and 時間 (si gaan) and 时间 (shí jiān) in Cantonese and Mandarin respectively. Student is 학생 (hak saeng) in Korean and 學生 (hok saang) in Cantonese. These similarities are because approximately 60% of Korean words originally come from Chinese.
From English come the Korean loan words 토크쇼 (tokeusyo, talk show), 아이스크림 (aiseukeurim, ice cream) and 메뉴 (menyu, menu). We also have the interesting contractions 리모콘 (rimokon; remote control), 셀카 (selka, selfie – from the words self and camera)
How Can I Improve My Korean Listening Skills?
Improving your Korean listening skills requires consistent practice and exposure to the language. You can do this if you:
Listen to Korean music, podcasts, and news
Expose yourself to the sounds of the Korean language by listening to Korean music, podcasts, and news broadcasts. This will help you become more familiar with the rhythms, tones, and cadences of the language.
Some of the most popular Korean groups at the moment are:
BTS: BTS is a seven-member boy group that debuted in 2013 and has become one of the biggest acts in the world, known for their catchy music, sharp choreography, and positive messages.
BLACKPINK: BLACKPINK is a four-member girl group that debuted in 2016 and has achieved international success with their upbeat music and stylish visuals.
TWICE: TWICE is a nine-member girl group that debuted in 2015 and has become one of the most popular groups in Korea and Japan, known for their catchy music and charming personalities.
EXO: EXO is a nine-member boy group that debuted in 2012 and has a massive fan base in Korea and around the world, known for their dynamic performances and harmonious vocals.
Red Velvet: Red Velvet is a five-member girl group that debuted in 2014 and has become known for their unique blend of pop and R&B music, as well as their colorful and creative music videos.
Watch Korean TV shows and movies
Watching Korean TV shows and movies with subtitles can help you improve your listening skills. As you become more comfortable with the language, try turning off the subtitles to challenge yourself.
- Practice shadowing: Shadowing is a technique where you listen to a recording of a native Korean speaker and repeat what they say as closely as possible. This helps you improve your listening skills and your pronunciation.
- Take a Korean language course: Enrolling in a Korean language course will provide you with structured opportunities to practice listening and speaking with a qualified teacher and other students.
- Practice regularly: Consistency is key when it comes to language learning. Make an effort to listen to Korean every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Koreanclass101 provides comprehensive learning materials that cover various aspects of the language, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The interactive audio and video lessons allow you to practice listening, speaking, and reading skills in a natural and engaging way. The Koreanclass101 app makes learning every day easy, by allowing you to access learning materials on your phone or your tablet, making it convenient to practice anytime, anywhere.
How Can I Improve My Korean Speaking Skills?
Of all the language skills, speaking is the one that learners often find most intimidating and is the one that requires the most confidence to work on.
Practice speaking with native speakers
Speaking with native Korean speakers is one of the best ways to improve your Korean speaking skills. You can find language exchange partners online or in person to practice with. Another option is to take a course like 90 Day Korean which features lessons with audio content by native speakers.
Use language learning apps
Many language learning apps, such as HelloTalk and Tandem, offer opportunities to practice speaking with native speakers through voice chat or video chat.
Repeat after native speakers
Shadowing isn’t just helpful for listening. Repeat what you hear from Korean media, such as TV shows, movies, or podcasts. This can help you practice your pronunciation and speaking skills.
Record yourself speaking
This is probably the most intimidating tip on this list, but hear us out! Record yourself speaking Korean and listen to your recordings to identify areas where you need improvement.
This can also help you track your progress over time. This is also helpful if you don’t have another Korean speaker to talk to, because it means you can still get some pointers on your pronunciation.
Make use of Korean learning apps
The Pimsleur app is a popular language learning app that focuses on audio-based lessons designed to improve speaking and listening skills. Here are some ways in which the Pimsleur app can be helpful for learning Korean:
Emphasis on speaking and listening: The Pimsleur app’s audio-based lessons focus on speaking and listening skills, which are essential for communicating effectively in Korean.
Native speaker recordings: The app features native speaker recordings, which help learners develop an ear for the natural rhythm and intonation of the Korean language.
Gradual introduction of new vocabulary: The app gradually introduces new vocabulary and grammar concepts, allowing learners to build on their existing knowledge and develop their skills over time.
Repetition-based learning: The Pimsleur method is based on repetition, which helps learners internalize new vocabulary and grammar structures.
Personalized learning: The app uses adaptive technology to personalize the learning experience based on the learner’s progress and performance.
Mobile accessibility: The Pimsleur app is available on mobile devices, allowing learners to practice Korean anytime and anywhere.
How Can I Improve My Korean Reading Skills?
Read Korean materials regularly:
The obvious one! Start by reading simple Korean materials such as children’s books, news articles, or blog posts. As you become more comfortable, move on to more complex materials such as novels and academic texts.
Use bilingual texts
There are lots of books available which are printed with Korean on one side and English on the other. This will help you associate words with meanings. With books for older readers and adults, it might be helpful to get a copy in Korean and an English translation for co-reading. While translations can’t ever be 1:1 transference of words, you will understand how the sentences work.
Practice reading aloud
Practice reading Korean texts aloud to improve your pronunciation and fluency.
Use a dictionary
When you encounter unfamiliar words, use a dictionary to look up their meanings and practice using them in context.
Join a Korean language book club
Joining a book club focused on reading Korean literature can provide a structured opportunity to practice reading and discuss the material with other learners. Discord would be a perfect way to connect with other Korean language bookworms around the world.
How Can I Improve My Korean Writing Skills?
Hangul is the South Korean word for the Korean alphabet, and is one of the most systematically logical and most rewarding, parts of learning the language. Any language that uses a different alphabet to ones you’re used to reading poses a challenge, but it’s this challenge that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and can help stave off certain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Hangul is generally considered one of the easiest alphabets to learn, as it has a logical structure and is highly phonetic. With consistent practice, you could learn to read and write Hangul in a matter of days or weeks. So don’t rely on writing roman transliterations of words to learn the Korean alphabet!
Start by practicing basic writing skills
Once you’ve learned the alphabet, practice writing simple sentences and gradually work your way up to more complex sentences and paragraphs.
Write in Korean regularly
Write in Korean as often as you can, even if it’s just a few sentences a day. This will help you develop your writing skills over time.
Ask a Korean speaker to read your writing and provide feedback. This can help you identify areas where you need improvement and help you learn from your mistakes.
How Can I Improve My Korean Grammar Skills?
Learn the grammar rules
Start by studying the basic grammar rules of the Korean language. Use language learning resources such as textbooks, workbooks, and online courses, to help you learn and practice grammar rules.
Immerse yourself in the language
One of the contradictions in learning grammar is that you need to know the rules and how grammar is used naturally. Immersing yourself in Korean is one of the best ways to pick up grammar naturally and contextually.
Practice grammar exercises
There are many grammar exercises available online that can help you practice and reinforce grammar rules.
Read in Korean
Reading Korean materials such as books, newspapers, and magazines can help you learn and reinforce grammar rules in context. (You’re also improving your reading skills here, so this is a two-for-one tip!)
Write in Korean
Writing in Korean regularly can help you practice using grammar rules in context. Trust us, it IS fun to write in Hangul, all radicals logically put together to form a sound!
Korean is a fascinating language to learn and culture to explore. If you are visiting Korea for fun, just pick up Pimsleur and give yourself 30 minutes a day for one month. The payoff for such a small investment is immense. If you are serious about mastering Korean, you can become fluent in anybody’s definition in 2,200 hours which can be as little as a year if you are able to make studying your full-time job, or up to three years if you study for as little as an hour per day. Whichever method you choose, Korean is a language that is achievable to learn with a little bit of effort.
We have lots of ideas for your perfect language learning journey. Want to know how to learn Korean fast? And when you are ready to pick your Korean learning method(s), Best Way To Learn Korean and other Korean related pages from the top Language menu will help you narrow down your choices.