According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), which is a US government agency that provides language training to diplomats and other government officials, it takes an average English speaker approximately 2200 hours of study to achieve professional working proficiency in Korean. This is considered a high level of proficiency and is necessary for working in a Korean-speaking environment.
However, it’s important to note that you don’t need to reach a professional working proficiency level to be able to communicate effectively in Korean. With consistent practice and dedication, it’s possible to achieve basic conversational proficiency in Korean in as little as 6-12 months.
7 tips to learn Korean as fast as possible
Tip 1 : Learn the Korean alphabet
The Korean alphabet, called Hangul, is one of the most logical and straightforward writing systems in the world. Spend some time learning the alphabet and mastering the pronunciation of each letter. This will help you read and write Korean words and sentences, which is essential for learning the language.
There are lots of mnemonics available for memorising Korean hangul, but among our favourites are:
- The consonant ㄱ (g/k sound) looks like a soccer goalpost, and the ball hitting the post makes the sound “g/k”.
- The consonant ㄴ (n sound) looks like a person’s nose, and when you say “n”, you use your nose.
- The consonant ㅅ (s sound) looks like a snake’s forked tongue, and snakes make a hissing “s” sound.
- The vowel ㅏ (a sound) looks like a person with their arms up in the air shouting “aah!”.
- The vowel ㅓ (eo sound) looks like a person leaning forward and saying “uh”.
- The vowel ㅣ (i sound) looks like a person standing up straight and shouting “ee!”.
Tip 2 : Immerse yourself in Korean
To learn Korean quickly, it’s important to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. This can include watching Korean TV shows and movies, listening to Korean music, reading Korean news articles or books, and speaking with native Korean speakers.
- Watch Korean TV shows, movies, and dramas: There are many Korean TV shows, movies, and dramas that you can watch to immerse yourself in the language. You can watch Korean content with English subtitles or with Korean subtitles to help you understand the language better.
- Listen to Korean music and podcasts: Listening to Korean podcasts and music can help you improve your listening skills and expose you to different accents and speaking styles.
- Join Korean language communities: Joining online Korean language communities like forums, Facebook groups, or Discord servers can help you connect with other Korean language learners and native speakers. You can practice speaking, ask questions, and immerse yourself in the language. These communities are a great way to start learning Korean for free.
Tip 3: Follow an online class
It’s not always easy to attend evening or weekend classes in a language, but thanks to the internet it is easier to find online classes suited to your ability and goals. KoreanClass101 is one such learning platform that provides a variety of resources to help learners of all levels improve their Korean language skills.
It offers structured lessons that cover grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, with audio and video resources to help learners practice their listening and speaking skills, as well as provides interactive learning tools, such as flashcards, quizzes, and lesson transcripts, that allow learners to practice and reinforce what they have learned in the lessons.
Tip 4: Gamify your learning
Gamification is the use of game-like elements and techniques in non-game contexts, such as education, to engage learners and make the learning process more enjoyable and effective. Here are some ways gamification can be good for learning Korean fast:
- Motivation: Gamification can help motivate learners to engage with the learning material and stay focused on their learning goals. By incorporating elements such as challenges, rewards, and leaderboards, learners can feel a sense of accomplishment and progress as they learn Korean.
- Active learning: Gamification encourages active learning, where learners are actively engaged with the learning material through interactive activities and tasks. This can help learners better understand and retain the information, leading to faster and more effective learning.
- Personalization: Gamification can also be used to personalize the learning experience for each individual learner. By tailoring the learning material to the learner’s needs and interests, learners can have a more meaningful and relevant learning experience, leading to faster and more effective learning.
- Practice and feedback: Gamification can also provide learners with opportunities to practice their Korean language skills and receive feedback on their progress. Through interactive games, quizzes, and other activities, learners can practice their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in a fun and engaging way, while receiving immediate feedback on their performance.
Overall, gamification can be a powerful tool for learning Korean fast, as it can help learners stay motivated, engaged, and actively involved in the learning process, while providing personalized learning experiences, opportunities for practice and feedback, and a fun and engaging learning environment.
Tip 5 : Read Manhwa
Manhwa are Korean graphic novels told online. Think Japanese manga, but as a webtoon. They have exploded in popularity in the last few years and are widely available to read online in Korean. Some of the most popular at the moment are:
- “The Hellbound” : Written and illustrated by Yeon Sang-ho, this story is set in a world where supernatural beings appear to be real, and people are judged for their sins after they die. The main character, Jin Kyung-ho, is a detective who investigates cases related to these supernatural occurrences. The central premise of the story is that when someone commits a mortal sin, they are condemned to hell and receive a sentence for their actions. However, the story takes a twist when people in the real world start receiving “Hellbound” notices, indicating that they are about to be judged for their sins and taken to hell in a matter of days. The story explores themes of religion, morality, and the consequences of our actions, as the characters struggle with their own sins and try to navigate the supernatural world around them. The manhwa is known for its dark and intense visuals, as well as its exploration of thought-provoking themes that challenge readers to consider their own beliefs and values.
- “Tower of God” : Written and illustrated by SIU (real name Lee Jong-hwi), Tower of God follows a boy named Bam, who has lived his whole life trapped beneath a mysterious tower, alone except for his friend Rachel. When Rachel enters the tower, Bam follows her in pursuit, and the story begins. The tower is an enormous structure with an unknown number of floors, each filled with deadly challenges and guarded by powerful beings. As Bam and Rachel climb the tower, they encounter other people who are also attempting to reach the top for their own reasons. Bam quickly makes friends and enemies among the other climbers, and discovers that there are many layers to the tower’s mysteries. The story is known for its intricate world-building, with a vast cast of characters and complex power systems that develop over time. The central theme of the story is the idea of climbing to the top of the tower to achieve one’s deepest desires, with each floor presenting new challenges and opportunities. Along the way, the characters must confront their own flaws and weaknesses, and the story explores themes of trust, betrayal, and the meaning of friendship.
- “Seasons of Blossom” (also known as “Flower of Evil”) is a manhwa written and illustrated by Lee Hyeon-sook. The story follows a young woman named Baek Hee-sung, who is married to a man named Do Hyun-soo. They have a daughter together and seem like an ordinary family, but there is a dark secret that Hee-sung is hiding. Hee-sung’s husband Hyun-soo is actually a serial killer who has been on the run for years. Hee-sung knows about his crimes but has chosen to keep his identity a secret and live with him under an assumed name. As the story unfolds, Hee-sung must confront her own complicity in her husband’s crimes, and the delicate balance of their lives is threatened by the arrival of a detective who is investigating the murders. The story is known for its intense psychological drama and exploration of complex characters. It raises questions about the nature of love, loyalty, and identity, and explores the dark side of human nature. The artwork is also praised for its striking visuals and use of symbolism.
Tip 6: Use language-learning apps
There are many language-learning apps available that can help you learn Korean quickly and efficiently. The Pimsleur app, for example, is designed to help learners develop their speaking and listening skills in Korean through a structured and interactive approach. Or a very well structured app such as 90 Day Korean can guide you from zero to mastery with superb efficiency Here are some ways that the app can help you learn Korean fast:
- Emphasis on speaking: The Pimsleur app puts a heavy emphasis on speaking and encourages learners to speak as much as possible from the very beginning. This helps learners build their confidence and fluency in speaking Korean.
- Repetition and reinforcement: The app uses a repetition and reinforcement method to help learners remember key vocabulary, phrases, and grammatical structures. This involves hearing a word or phrase, repeating it, and then hearing it again in a different context later on in the lesson.
- Natural conversation: The app presents lessons in the form of natural conversations between two or more speakers. This helps learners develop their listening skills and learn how to understand Korean as it is spoken in real-life situations.
- Gradual difficulty level: The app gradually increases the difficulty level of the lessons as learners progress. This ensures that learners are challenged enough to keep learning, but not so overwhelmed that they become discouraged.
- Mobile and flexible: The app is mobile and can be accessed from anywhere, which means that learners can study Korean at their own pace and at their convenience.
Tip 7: Practice speaking regularly
One of the best ways to learn Korean quickly is to practice speaking the language regularly. Even if you only know a few basic phrases, try to use them as much as possible in daily conversation. This will help you build confidence and improve your fluency over time.
There are many online platforms where you can practice speaking Korean with other language learners or native speakers. Here are some options to consider:
- italki: italki is a language learning platform that connects learners with language tutors and conversation partners. You can find Korean tutors who can help you with speaking practice, or you can find Korean language exchange partners to practice with.
- HelloTalk: HelloTalk is a language exchange app that allows you to connect with native Korean speakers who are learning your native language. You can chat with them through the app’s messaging system or do voice calls to practice speaking.
- Tandem: Tandem is another language exchange app that connects language learners with native speakers. You can use the app to chat, voice call, or video call with Korean speakers to practice your speaking skills.
- Discord servers: There are many Discord servers dedicated to language learning and practicing speaking skills. You can search for Korean language learning Discord servers and join a community of learners and native speakers to practice speaking.
- Language exchange websites: Websites like ConversationExchange.com or MyLanguageExchange.com allow you to connect with language exchange partners from all over the world. You can search for Korean language exchange partners and practice speaking with them through Skype or other video chat apps.
Remember, the key to improving your speaking skills in Korean is to practice regularly and consistently. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and keep practicing until you feel more confident in your abilities.
In conclusion, there are many effective and efficient ways to learn Korean. Whether you prefer a traditional classroom setting or a more self-directed approach, there are plenty of resources available to help you master the language. By combining different learning methods, such as textbooks, language exchange programs, online resources, and immersion experiences, you can accelerate your progress and become fluent in Korean in no time.
Here’s a short list of other articles we have right at All Language Resources to help you pick your language learning journey companion:
- 14 Best Korean Courses: We’ve Tested Them
- The 20+ Best Apps to Learn Korean
- Improve Your Korean With 16 Fabulous Podcasts
- Best Way to Learn Korean
It’s important to remember that learning a new language requires patience, consistency, and dedication, but with the right mindset and tools, anyone can achieve their language learning goals. So, start exploring different options, find what works best for you, and enjoy the journey of learning Korean!