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5 Tried and True Ways to Teach Yourself Korean

Korean fluency is absolutely within reach, even if you don’t speak more than one foreign language yet. Even if you’re monolingual and only know English. This is still do-able.

Start by choosing which of the methods below best suit you and your interests, skill level and preferred learning style.

1. Master the Hangul

The 한글 or Hangul is the Korean alphabet. It has been used since the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century A.D. Composed of 14 consonants and 10 vowels, it’s said to be the most scientific alphabet in the world, mimicking almost every human sound and so precise that it’s extra easy to learn.

Why It Works

Knowing the Korean alphabet is fundamental for reading Korean. In the beginning, you may find it easier to use the Roman alphabet to pronounce Korean words, but you’ll quickly realize that this isn’t sustainable—the quicker you learn the Korean alphabet, the more comfortable and more effective your learning experience will be.

Also, you’ll see that the Roman alphabet has some serious limitations when it comes to Korean, especially considering that it has some very different sounds. In fact, some consonants have three distinctions.

For instance, ㄱ, ㅋ, ㄲ. The first letter, ㄱ or 기역 (giyeok) has a sound somewhere between g and k. Its pronunciation varies depending on where this letter is located inside a word. The middle one, ㅋ or 키읔 (kieuk) has a sound similar to k, but with stronger aspiration, like very strong k. The sound of last letter ㄲ or 쌍기역 (ssanggiyeok) doesn’t exist in English, so you must get familiar with it.

In a nutshell, using the Roman alphabet may lead to you making pronunciation mistakes and it’s an unnecessary crutch, so move away from it as soon as you can!

2. Invest in a Good Learning System

Having the right manuals is important on your journey to teaching yourself Korean. Keep it handy and make sure to review it every day!

3. Flashcards

Flashcards aren’t just for middle schoolers. Every learner should find them useful. Read up if in doubt!

4. Join Language Exchange Communities

Language exchange communities are great platforms to learn about the language and the culture of the country you’re interested in.

5. Watch Plenty of Korean Dramas

Korean dramas are a fun, entertaining way to learn the Korean language and start really understanding Korean culture! Of course—take what you see with a grain of salt. After all, dramas are pretty… dramatic. Korean life isn’t necessarily like this (all the time).