How to Learn Korean On Your Own

한국어 교재

한국어 교재

Thank you Ag* who asked me for step-by-step advice on how to learn Korean. I hope this will answer your question, and if it does not, I believe you can think up your own solution. After all, we all learn differently. Let’s get started!

1. Get a textbook (with audio CD!) and start studying.

Learn to read hangul first. Korean people don’t use romanization to communicate. Romanization is strictly for pronunciation guides – hangul is often read differently from how it’s spelled. Familiar yourself with the rules.

2. Study or learn something new everyday or as often as you can.

3. Follow a Korean-language related podcast or a blog or a learning course that is updated often to keep your desire to learn Korean.

4. Learn to type hangul because you will use or practice your Korean the most on the internet. (I do!).

5. Learn to use Naver Dictionary/Daum Dictionary/other kind of dictionaries so you can look up words by yourself. You don’t expect other people to teach you every Korean word you need to know, do you?

6. Learn to use Google Translate and make use of its Text-To-Speech button for pronunciation and listening practices. It’s not perfect but better than nothing.

7. Learn to use your language learning tools (Quizlet, FLTR, Anki, etc.) because they’re helpful at least at the beginning stage.

8. Make a plan. Without a plan, you’re more likely to feel lost because there’s just so much to learn. My plan for basic level was: memorize all the basic words and basic grammar rules from textbooks, do 3 year worth of TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) basic level problems, and move on to intermediate level. If you go to school, the school decides one same curriculum for all students. If you learn on your own, you get to decide your own curriculum accustomed to your own interests, needs, and pace – which is great.

9. When you’re ready , change the language interface of your Twitter/Firefox/Chrome/smartphone etc. to Korean for language immersion.

10. If you have questions, ask native Koreans on Lang-8

11. When you feel stuck (and you will if you study long enough), review material you already learned, read something of lower level to ‘unstuck’ yourself and return stronger (is ‘unstuck’ a real word?).

12. Find things you like to do in Korean (watching K-drama, singing K-pop, cooking Korean food, comic books, making friends, etc.).

13. Project-based learning is fun and rewarding. I liked translating short entertainment news, K-pop lyrics, even before I finished basic level. Just keep it in moderation because if your project is too difficult or taking too long you’re more likely to get frustrated.

14. Remember that in learning a language it’s very simple: if you remember, you can use it. All learning methods are meant to help you remember and they all rely on REPETITION. Words and phrases will become your second nature if you repeat them enough. Practice often!

15. It’s very important to enjoy whatever you’re doing in order to master Korean. Make it  INTERESTING otherwise you will have no choice but to quit.

16. You should care more about your own progress than following someone else’s method. You know well what works for you or you will find out. Don’t ignore your frustration and find a solution!

17. Also, the last but not least: don’t quit!

Thank you for reading. Good luck with your Korean learning! ###


8 thoughts on “How to Learn Korean On Your Own

  1. The part of getting stuck is so true. ^^ I suppose it’s easy to quit when progress seems to have come to a halt, but it does get better and focusing on ”easier” material is great to regain confidence. “Oh, I used not to know this, and now it’s a breeze” kind of feeling. : )


    • I’m glad you agree! ^^ Adding to what you said about regaining confidence, when you think something is too hard, you’re most likely right and it just means you’re not ready yet, so it’s better to review/learn something easier and come back later. I see no point in keep doing something way beyond your level and piling up frustration. It should be enjoyable.


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