Plan for learning Korean language

Plan for learning Korean languageI’ve been planning and organizing my Korean language learning for years now.

When I first started learning Korean I thought I just needed to memorize the words, learn the rules for forming sentences and that would be it.

Then, when I proudly stood in front of Kimchi Man and spat out a sentence in Korean for the first time, and all I got in return was a blank stare, it occurred to me I should have probably spent some time working on my pronunciation as well.

And when I uncertainly carved into paper the first set of straight lines and circles that were supposed to be Korean writing but turned out to look like first attempts of a recovering stroke victim, I realized two things: 1. I need to practice writing Korean a lot, and 2. imitating computer fonts when writing Hangul might not be the best idea ever.

Now that I look back with all this hindsight, I realize just how many resources I collected and how many textbooks and strategies for learning Korean language I’d tried out over the years. I wish I had that knowledge when I first started out. So that it all doesn’t go to waste, I am sharing it all with you.

I made a list that should contain what, where, and how you need to learn to fully grasp Korean language.

I will write a full guide and tips for each of these points and once that’s done I will link to each of them, so look out for new posts during the next few days and weeks.

Korean alphabet Hangul

  • Learn Hangul
    • Really BEFORE you do anything else, learn Hangul. Hangul is Korean alphabet, it has only 24 letters, and it takes just a few days to fully master it. Avoid Romanization at all costs. Best way I can describe it is: If you use Romanization to learn Korean you will sound to Koreans exactly as Koreans sound to us when they read English words written in Hangul. Hwaiting!
  • Practice typing Hangul
  • Practice Korean handwriting
    • This is technically not necessary to be able to clearly communicate. Just learning Hangul and stroke order is enough. However, I felt my handwriting was an insult to people’s eyes. Also, I had real trouble READING Korean people’s handwriting. It was difficult finding precise instructions online so I developed a few of my own strategies. Recently I also got into Korean brush calligraphy. I won’t lie, it’s difficult but you get beautiful results even if you have no idea what you’re doing.

Korean vocabulary

  • Vocabulary
    • Learning vocabulary is obviously one of the main things you need to do when learning a language, but it can get a bit tedious, especially if you’re trying to cram words without really understanding how they fit into sentences. Sometimes it does just come down to hard work and persistence, but there are more fun ways to supplement your learning as well.
      If you’re using Memrise, I have some tips.

Korean grammar

  • Grammar
    • This may be even scarier to some people than learning vocabulary, but you really can’t learn a language well without learning the grammar rules. Luckily, compared to just a few years ago there are really many good resources for learning Korean grammar, some even completely free. Textbooks worked the best for me, and I even got some to review, like Elementary Korean.

Korean pronunciation

  • Pronunciation
    • It is true that you can just pick this up on the go, but adults have difficulty distinguishing sounds in languages other than their native one, so both your pronunciation and listening skills will benefit if you take some structured approach to learning how different sounds are made in Korean and which part of your mouth and lips you need to use.If you are self-learning Korean, a good Korean pronunciation textbook is the best bet to get your pronunciation to a pleasing level.


19 thoughts on “Plan for learning Korean language

    • Of course. As I said at the top, I will write a guide for each item from the list in the next few weeks. Please look out for it.

      The handwriting is second on the list (Hangul is already done) so it should be done soon.

  1. Learning hangul is of course a must ^^… And it can help a lot with pronuntiation. :)
    I still have a hard time reading others handwritting… My own kimchi man says my handwritting is very cute.. I dont know how to take his words hahaha cute like a kindergartener or pretty cute haha
    He sometimes tells me if i am korean hahaha… He swears my pronuntiation is excellent… I dont think so xD
    It woukd be really awesome if you share your tips… Im really looking forward to it! ^^

  2. Thanks for any insight you can offer on learning Korean.

    I’ve never been adept at learning languages. I could never speak Spanish after 4 years of high school classes, so the idea that I might be able to pick up Korean by myself seems quite unreasonable. Yet my interest is there and bit by bit I have absorbed a little.

    What I have learned is that my purchases to try to find the right books/audio/flashcards/podcasts/online tools has been haphazard at best. I would probably learn better with a plan and consistency in half hour a day of studying. (Hours of KDrama watching daily don’t count!)

    One thing I have realized is that learning a language is a massively time intensive task. It might take me 500 hours of studying to be labeled a beginner. Does that make sense for a language I may only speak occasionally at HMart, a Korean restaurant, or in a Korean bookstore? Where they will not understand me because I never practiced proper pronunciation? I’m shy to begin with, and completely tongue-tied when I try to speak in a foreign language.

    I think if you know someone who speaks Korean, can take a class where you have to speak out loud, or have some powerful motivation to learn like an upcoming trip to Korea, it must be easier to learn. For those of us who just want to be less reliant on subtitles, it is less of a pressing issue. No deadlines, no test, no one to correct you.

    • High school language learning is next to useless. Honestly. You’re not inept.

      I think the best way to learn a language is to use it for something you are passionate about. I learned a bit of English grammar from school, but I was insanely crazy about Star Wars when I was a little kid and I memorized ALL the movies by heart, and then I went on to read a book. In English. Except I couldn’t read English. It took me days to get over the first chapter. But I was so stubborn that I did little else with my days except try to read that book. After that my English improved immensely!

      I was also a shy kid but I concluded that if I wanted to daydream about Star Wars I had to speak English or the characters wouldn’t understand me ^^ I know… I know… But my word retrieval speed increased quite a bit.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that imagination is quite enough to learn a language. But without passion it will be difficult.

      I lost my passion for learning Korean when I lost my love, but maybe some day I can find my passion somewhere else.

      • I’ve just realized English isn’t your first language. You are writing a blog in a second language? Boggles my mind! I never would have guess you were not a native speaker. May the Force be with you :-) A fellow Star Wars fan.

    • You can practice with a korean native speaker online. Koreans are usually very nice and get all excited when they know someone likes their language, so they would be willing to help you. You can use skype, kakao or line to call them and have a nice conversation. Im very shy too, plus I don’t have a korean community nearby so online korean friends is an excellent choice! ^^

  3. A lot of languages that don’t use roman letters scared me off from learning them. Japanese has Kana, Hiragana, and Katakana. I’ve heard Mandarin has tens of thousands of characters. Thai is another language that recommends learning their alphabet first. At least Hangul is logical with a limited number of letters that combine into characters. I suppose that was my first love of the language, that it was designed by scholars to be easily learned by illiterates in 2 days.

    So if I had it to do over again, I would not be scared about learning Hangul and would learn it first. Romanization is a crutch that will drive you batty later when you realize there isn’t a consistent way of doing it so from book to book that same word will be written differently.

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  5. Nice advice! Vocabulary and grammar are the hardest for me to learn but your advice is something I’ll take into contact :)

  6. I am so eager for your advice on handwriting. Cursive was a big priority of my mother’s when I was in school, and now I must admit that I am grateful and have developed my own love of beautiful handwriting. I have so little clue what my hangul is actually supposed to look like, but it is not attractive to my eye–stiff and uneven. This is an area of learning Korean which does not seem to be touched on much, perhaps because so much is done on the computer. Thank you for filling the gap!

    • Right now I am working on the vocabulary post, and next up I have the handwriting planned :) I’ll do my best to work as fast as possible so you don’t have to wait long

    • At tutorial? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you mean.

      But how long it takes to learn Korean language depends on many things: what your native language is, how many other languages you speak, how much time per day you’re willing to spend studying, etc.

      • Okk let’s say as for my side I can speak 3 languages my native language is Arabic (lebanese) then my second one is English then French so how many years should I learn Korean ? I really like this language but i cant read Hangul its too complicated but i start to learn some words but i cant read Hangul words so how can u help me ? Thanks

  7. Now I can read Hangul but when I try to write it. It looks like a robotic writing
    And about vocabulary I often watch Korean drama that helps me a lot now I’m dealing with grammar problem I’m Asian btw so I don’t think that our grammar would be that different like English Spanish but I need some guidance like any app or site
    I love your blog 😄

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