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22 Online Korean Courses Ranked From Best To Worst In 2020

Korea is rich with heritage, delicious food, and stunning views, so we don’t blame you for wanting to learn the language.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. While there are endless resources out there that claim to help you become fluent, not every course lives up to its name.

Whether you’re obsessed with understanding your favorite K-drama or you simply wish to visit this beautiful country, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst Korean courses for you to learn from.

We’ve grouped them into four tiers with our favorites first and the ones you’d be better off avoiding in the final tier.

We rated them on factors such as quality of the lessons, comprehensiveness of the course, and value for the cost. 

While our favorite courses are in the first tier, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should disregard the courses in lower tiers. Everybody is unique and will have different preferences when it comes to what they look for in a Korean course.

Having said that, these rankings come from countless hours spent testing the courses. 

This also isn’t an exhaustive list of useful resources for learning Korean. To prevent it from becoming even more ridiculously long, we’ve limited this list to strictly courses. So, some excellent resources such as italki, where you can find affordable tutors, wasn’t included as it’s not exactly a course.

Anyway, let’s take a closer look at each of these courses so you can figure out which one is the best fit for you.

Top Tier

After road testing dozens of courses, these are the ones that are sure to take you from zero to hero on your Korean-speaking journey.

90 Day Korean

Best all-around course

Price: $30-$47 a month or $150-$247 a year

On first glance, this may seem too good to be true. After all, no one can become fluent in 90 days, right?

Luckily, this course isn’t promising the impossible. Instead, it breaks the overwhelming goal of learning Korean into four 90-day modules so you’re less intimidated by the content, and more motivated to study. Each module thoroughly covers content such as vocabulary and grammar without making you feel overwhelmed and allows you to proceed at your own pace.

What’s great about this course is how it incorporates challenges, exercises, and well-structured vocabulary lessons so you’re actually learning the language instead of purely memorizing phrases. Overall, this definitely gets our two thumbs up.

Check out our full review here.

Pros:

  • Korean is explained in a simple and straightforward manner
  • High-quality content
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Some of the optional lessons could be more challenging

Visit 90 Day Korean

 

Pimsleur

Best for improving speaking skills

Price: $15-$19.95 per month

Pimsleur consistently gets our vote for being one of the best language courses for beginners. With a beautifully designed app and well-structured language lessons, this course is designed to encourage beginners to start speaking Korean right away. It even motivates students to be active learners by prompting them to use the language from the get-go.

Since the emphasis is on the oral language, there is less focus on grammar or written language. However, you can easily find other resources to supplement your reading and writing skills.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Great course for beginners
  • Strong focus on the oral language means you’ll be speaking quicker than with other courses
  • Subscription is affordably priced
  • Beautifully designed app with interesting images & cultural notes

Cons

  • Lessons tend to be a bit dry
  • Less focus on the written language and grammar
  • The practice activities included aren’t as comprehensive

Visit Pimsleur

 

Lingodeer

Best for those wanting an introduction to Korean

Price: $8.99 a month or $41.99 for a year

While there are a plethora of cheap language apps that claim to teach you Korean, Lingodeer is by far the most effective of them. This course is a great introduction to Korean as it makes it easy for anyone to start learning the basics. It also gets bonus points for testing multiple skills and using a variety of exercises to ensure that students have a well-rounded education.

However, the lack of emphasis on the conversational aspect means that those hoping to become fluent may have to look elsewhere.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:lingodeer

  • Great introduction to Korean
  • A variety of exercises helps keeps things interesting
  • Well designed and easy to use app

Cons:

  • Insufficient for developing conversational skills
  • Unlikely to take you past the intermediate level

Save 15% on any subscription to Lingodeer by using the coupon code “ALR123”

Visit Lingodeer

 

KoreanClass101

Best for improving listening comprehension

Price: $8 – $47 a month

KoreanClass101 offers thousands of audio and video lessons designed to teach students from beginner to advanced level. Its star feature is their vast library of listening material that allows you to practice and improve your listening comprehension. In fact, there is no other resource that offers as much listening practice as KoreanClass101.

However, despite its large range of resources, the scope of the content can feel narrow as it doesn’t offer a lot of reading, writing or speaking practice. Additionally, advanced learners will need to look elsewhere. Furthermore, the structure of the website is a little haphazard and doesn’t offer lessons in a clear structure. Instead, you’ll have to search through numerous pathways to find the lessons you’re after.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • This course offers tons of listening material for beginners up to intermediate level
  • Large range of material for beginner and intermediate learners

Cons:

  • Not much content for advanced learners
  • The learning flow wasn’t well structured and lessons don’t build on each other enough
  • The presenter spoke extensively in English, which limits the amount of Korean you get to hear

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to KoreanClass101. 

Talk To Me In Korean

Best for those wanting to lighten up their study

Price: Free, but includes paid lessons from $7

Since 2009, Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK) has offered both free and paid content to Korean learners that are mostly engaging, fun and entertaining. The main educational content revolves around grammar, which is presented in an audio lesson. It also provides other useful lessons on sentence building and learning various idiomatic expressions.

TTMIK does a great job striking a balance between educational and entertaining, and the assortment of interviews and drama breakdowns are very engaging. Perfect for those who prefer learning in a more lighthearted environment!

However, their content occasionally strays too far into the entertainment side and provides less educational value. More importantly, this course doesn’t provide many ways for students to practice and consolidate what they’ve learned – an important part for anyone learning a new language.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Majority of the content is free
  • Materials are entertaining and educational

Cons:

  • Some lessons provide more entertainment than education
  • Not many opportunities to practice or use the language

 

Sejong Korean

Best for those who enjoy learning in a classroom environment

Price: Free

Sejong Korean offers lessons for absolute beginners to intermediate learners. Their content is presented via lecture videos based on Korean textbooks, which are also conveniently available on the website for free.

Their standard curriculum promises to teach students all aspects of Korean communication including speaking, listening, reading and writing. It even ensures that new students are familiar with the foundation of Korean by teaching them the different vowels and consonants and how Hangul was created.

For extra engagement, they offer webtoons that educate students about Korean culture, food, and stories. Overall, Sejong Korean is a very comprehensive website that will help students progress on their Korean speaking journey. Best part? It’s free.

Pros:

  • Provides lots of free content
  • Materials are entertaining and educational

Cons:

  • Website is easier to use than the app

Visit Sejong Korean

Second Tier

Aka. our silver medal contenders. While none of these courses are perfect, they still provide tremendous value on your goal of speaking Korean.

The Cyber University of Korea

Good for listening practice and learning about Korean culture

Price: Free

The Cyber University of Korea (CUK) is Korea’s leading online university that is wholly dedicated to Korean culture and language education. Their mission is to help anyone learn Korean with ease anytime, anywhere. For that reason, many of their courses are created by various experts in different fields such as anthropologists and Korean language scholars.

Like many other language courses, CUK uses videos and quizzes to teach content such as vocabulary, Korean culture, and the Korean alphabet. Since it’s mostly taught in Korean, students can use this opportunity to improve their listening practice. However, it can often be difficult to learn the various grammar concepts from a video, so students may need to rely on other resources in order to get more practice.

Pros:

  • Provides lots of free content
  • Good for listening practice
  • Lots of material on Korean culture

Cons:

  • Grammar lessons are less comprehensive

Visit The Cyber University Of Korea

 

Coursera

Good for beginners wanting a University-style course

Price: Free

Coursera offers a range of free University courses on various topics, including Korean. A good thing about Coursera is how it doesn’t just focus on teaching the language, but also offers courses on Korean politics and economic developments.

Each of their courses provides a syllabus so you know what to expect as well as the approximate time it will take to complete the course. However, the range of courses for learning the Korean language is quite limited and will likely only benefit beginner students.

Pros:

  • Courses are free
  • Offer various courses on culture, politics, and economics

Cons:

  • Language courses are limited to beginners

Visit Coursera

Memrise

Good as a supplementary tool for reviewing vocabulary

Price: Free or $8.99 a month

Memrise is a language learning tool that uses gamified flashcards and offers a range of courses to help students learn Korean. By using mnemonics, Memrise helps students memorize the vocabulary so they have a better foundation for the language.

However, memorizing words will only take you so far. Although Memrise also offers courses on food, grammar, and slang, most of them are user-created and vary in quality and substance. For best practice, we recommend that students use Memrise as a tool for review alongside a more comprehensive Korean course.

Check out our full review here.

Pros:

  • Great for beginners
  • Helps with memory retention
  • Incredible tool for learning vocab

Cons:

  • Not sufficient on its own to become fluent in Korean
  • Quality of the user-created courses may vary

Visit Memrise

 

How to Study Korean

Good for students wanting a deeper understanding behind the language

Price: Free

This website aims to provide Korean learners with a one-stop resource for learning Korean by providing lessons ranging from basic reading skills to advanced grammar. Each lesson includes 20-30 new vocabulary words, grammar tailored to the specific level of study, and audio recordings of the Korean words and sentences. It also includes quizzes and a test at the end of each unit to ensure students consolidate what they’ve learned. Moreover, they also provide extra resources such as workbooks, short stories, and listening practice.

Although this course is available to beginners, it often introduces difficult concepts at the start, which may be hard for new students to grasp. However, some students may find this useful as it helps them understand the basics on a deeper level as opposed to just memorizing words.

Overall, this course provides an abundance of free content. Although it may not be useful for those wanting to pick up Korean easily, it helps build the fundamentals of the Korean language in a way which will pay off when students are exposed to more difficult grammatical concepts.

Pros:

  • Free and comprehensive
  • Provides students with a deeper understanding of the basics

Cons:

  • Introduces difficult concepts very early on
  • Lacks visuals so can be a bit dry

Visit How To Study Korean

Foreign Service Institute

Good as a free, comprehensive resource

Price: Free

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) develops a variety of language courses, including Korean. The lessons are free and quite comprehensive, as it is mostly conducted via audio clips. It also comes attached with a PDF that has a similar format to a textbook. The course is quite old, in fact, it was written with a typewriter, but the content is solid.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Covers a lot of material via audio clips and the attached PDF

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to get through by yourself
  • Very dense and outdated

Visit FSI Korean

Glossika

Good for Intermediate students wanting to practice speaking

Price: $30 a month

Glossika is an audio course that uses an intuitive approach to help students learn Korean. By listening to native speakers and repeating what they’ve said, students should be able to pick up the grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and language structure naturally. As such, this resource is more suitable for intermediate learners as it assumes students already know the basics.

While an intermediate learner should be able to learn new vocabulary, improve their confidence in speaking, and learn different sentences, its functions are still limited. The lack of explanations on grammar and lack of cultural context means that Glossika is only best used as a supplementary resource. However, since a subscription offers students access to a wide range of languages, it can be a great tool for those wanting to study multiple languages.

Check out our full review here.

Pros:

  • Improves speaking and listening skills through repetition
  • Available in lots of languages

Cons:

  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Expensive for what is offered
  • The sentences are the same for every language

Visit Glossika

Third Tier

While we don’t like these courses as much as the aforementioned ones, they could still be alright for certain types of learners.

Duolingo

Ok for getting started

Price: Free, with the option to remove ads and download offline lessons for $9.99 a month.

While Duolingo is the most well-known course on this list, it’s not our favorite. The quality of lessons for different languages can vary dramatically, and unfortunately, the Korean course was one of their lower quality offerings. The lessons only help you memorize vocabulary without actually teaching you how to read, write or understand Korean. As the Korean alphabet may be unfamiliar to beginners, this course also fails to provide information on how the alphabet functions or provide context.

Moreover, the lessons appear to be unstructured and jump all over the place without an explanation of why certain particles or grammar concepts are used. Instead, students are expected to just pick up the concepts intuitively while completing multiple-choice and translation exercises. While the gamified aspect of the app may help keep students motivated, that’s not enough for us to recommend using Duolingo over other courses.

Read our review of Duolingo here. 

Pros:

  • The gamification helps keep students motivated and coming back each day
  • Good for practicing and reviewing Korean
  • Free

Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide important explanations of how Korean works
  • Relies more on memorization

Visit Duolingo

Rocket Korean

Ok for beginners who like repetition

Price: $99.95

While some Rocket Language courses offer comprehensive lessons for various languages, the Rocket Korean course was quite uninspiring. Unlike many other courses, Rocket Korean only offers one level, which is only suitable for beginners. Although the course includes various lessons such as the Interactive Audio Lessons, Writing Lessons, and Language and Culture Lessons, the exercises are very repetitive and basically amount to rote memorization.

Ultimately, Rocket Korean is a low-quality course compared to a lot of the resources mentioned earlier. While some aspects are done well, such as the ability to practice speaking throughout the course, you would be better off investing in a comprehensive course like 90 Day Korean.

Check out our full review here.

Rocket German

Pros:

  • Good balance between the spoken language and grammar
  • Lots of opportunities to practice speaking

Cons:

  • Only suitable for beginners
  • Relies too heavily on rote-memorization
  • You won’t learn to read Hangul

Visit Rocket Korean

LP’s Korean Language Learning

Ok for those who like reading their lessons

Price: Free

LP’s Korean Language Learning began in 2006 as a blog designed to provide basic Korean grammar lessons. The blog aims to be comprehensive and provide lots of material on the history of the Korean alphabet, the different degrees of formalities in Korean, and the written and spoken forms of Korean.

However, the website is a bit unorganized and hard to navigate. As lessons are presented in a blog format, it’s not as engaging as video lessons and can be hard to understand. Although the blog provides videos and music resources to help you apply the language, these are very limited.

Pros:

  • Good explanations of Korean culture and the Korean alphabet
  • Lots of free, comprehensive material

Cons:

  • Website is unorganized and hard to navigate
  • Material isn’t very engaging

Visit LP’s Korean Language Learning

Mango Languages

Ok for beginners

Price: $19.99 a month

Mango Languages offers a variety of beginner to lower-intermediate lessons in a wide range of languages. Its offerings even include Yiddish and Shakespearean English. Mango Languages is a great tool for learning how to speak confidently and their lessons encourage you to actively practice what you’re learning.

Their course isn’t bad but other resources are better and oftentimes cheaper. So, unless you can get free access from your library or elsewhere, we wouldn’t recommend using Mango Languages.

Check out our full review here.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Cultural and grammar notes help you better understand the language
  • Subscription gives you access to over 70 languages

Cons:

  • Not enough grammar practice
  • Not suitable for advanced learners

Visit Mango Languages

Udemy

Ok for the wide variety of courses

Price: $10+

Udemy is a platform containing user-created courses on a variety of skills, including languages. It provides a range of Korean courses, such as those for beginners, grammar courses, and even learning Korean from K-pop. The large variety of lessons at relatively cheap prices means that students aren’t limited by one teaching style. You can even read other students’ reviews so you can see what the structure of the lessons is like before purchasing a course.

However, since the courses are user-created, the content and quality can vary significantly between each one. The prices for different courses are all different, however, Udemy has tons of sales. If you add a course to your cart and wait a day or two, you’ll almost certainly be given a coupon code.

Pros:

  • Courses are relatively cheap
  • Large variety of courses focusing on different things such as culture, language, and even cooking

Cons:

  • Courses are user-created so quality and content will differ

Visit Udemy

Avoid These Courses

Although these courses may be well-known, we believe you’ll find better, higher quality and cheaper courses above. If you still want a sneak peek at what didn’t make the cut, keep on scrolling.

Mondly

Only okay for those that want to try their AR and VR features

Price: $9.99 a month

Although Mondly boasts about offering 1000’s of lessons and conversations, the quality of their language courses is below average and unsuitable for those wanting to properly learn a language. The low-quality content was also exacerbated by the fact that Mondly’s interface wasn’t very intuitive to use and the aesthetics were quite underwhelming.

While Mondly includes daily lessons, quizzes, and challenges that encourage students to practice every day, the course itself isn’t well structured and, at best, will only teach students basic conversational skills. Overall, your time and money are better spent elsewhere.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Includes features such as monthly challenges to encourage users to practice
  • Perhaps the only resource with AR and VR

Cons:

  • Content is the same for all levels and languages
  • Not well structured
  • Low quality compared to other alternatives

Visit Mondly

Rosetta Stone

Only good for those who insist on the immersion approach

Price: $79 for 3 months

As one of the most famous language learning resources, Rosetta Stone appears to be a well thought out and well-designed resource. However, it does have significant limitations which can impact a student’s learning experience.

Although its emphasis on immersive learning means that students can hear Korean being spoken by native speakers, its repetitive nature and lack of explanations means that the lessons can quickly become monotonous. Students would definitely have to use other resources for a more in-depth education as no cultural context or conversation practice is included.

While Rosetta Stone has its positives, you’d be better off using a different course

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Lots of material covered
  • Very easy to use and navigate
  • Students would be able to improve their language skills

Cons:

  • Main units are very repetitive
  • Heavy reliance on pictures without explanation or cultural context
  • Too expensive

Visit Rosetta Stone

Busuu

Only good for the social feature

Price: $8.33 per month with a 3-month minimum subscription

Although Busuu is a popular language course, it isn’t worth paying for. The only real benefit is the social part of the app as it provides students the opportunity to have their speech and writing corrected by a native speaker – which is available for free.

The Korean course is weirdly structured and teaches less important topics first before any useful vocabulary. It also fails to explain the foundations of the language to beginners and there’s no emphasis or explanation for grammar or pronunciation.

Ultimately, despite the easy-to-navigate design of the app there are other much better courses you can learn from for free or for a low cost.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Provides an opportunity to have your writing and speech corrected by a native speaker for free

Cons:

  • Poorly planned lesson structure
  • Disregards pronunciation and grammar

Visit Busuu

Michel Thomas Method

Only okay for learning from other people’s mistakes

Price: $11.99 – $100

Michel Thomas is a famous linguist and a household name whose lessons involve an instructor teaching Korean to two beginner students. In theory, this structure allows you to hear the students’ answers and learn from their mistakes.

Unfortunately, we wouldn’t recommend it at all. For the price it costs, the value you get is quite minimal and you only come away with the basics. For beginners, it may provide a quick boost of some basic phrases and grammar, however, those wanting to advance further will need something more comprehensive.

In our opinion, your best option is to steer clear from this course entirely.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • They offer one free lesson for you to try

Cons

  • Not great value for money
  • Monotonous lessons conducted mostly in English

Visit Michel Thomas

Transparent Language

Only okay for learning unique languages but not Korean

Price: $24.95 per month or $149.95 per year

The Transparent Language course aims to help absolute beginners engage and interact with Korean, however, the whole course amounts to an endless exercise in repetition and memorizing word lists. Instead of teaching the foundation of the language or the different cultural contexts, the words are only taught in isolation and the grammar points and structure of the language is mostly disregarded.

However, those wanting to learn the basics of unique languages such as Tajiki, Dari or Denesuline, may find some value in this course as it exposes students to different words and phrases.

Check out our full, in-depth review here.

Pros:

  • Offers a large range of languages
  • Can potentially learn the basics of reading and writing

Cons:

  • Grammar and structure of the language are ignored
  • Ignores cultural context
  • Very repetitive and ineffective

Visit Transparent Language

Final Thoughts

Not all Korean courses are created equally.

Choosing the right course can make studying enjoyable and bring quick progress while choosing the wrong one can lead to frustration and abandoning your dream of speaking Korean.

Everybody is a bit different with regards to their learning style, preferences, and time and money constraints. So, although my personal favorite course is 90 Day Korean, others may prefer something different.

Do you have experience with any Korean courses? Please share in the comments!

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