A beginner's guide to learning korean

11:00 AM

So you decided to start learning korean. First of all, let me welcome you to the community! It's not an easy journey, but, at least for me, it's a fun and rewarding one. At this point, you might be a little confused as to where you should start. Both on the internet and outside of it, I've been asked repeatedly about what to do when you start, what to learn first, where to go for lessons... 

Since I've been self-studying korean for a while now, I'll give you guys a helping hand. But keep it in mind that I am only speaking based on my own experience, and recommending resources that I have tried and/or love myself. 

Read it all, try them. Then make your own judgements!

1. Learn how to read hangul

There are endless resources all over the internet that teach you how to read hangul. You might be surprised at how easy it is to get a hold of their alphabet, actually. You won't be reading without a flaw after one day, but it won't take you long to learn it at all.

The app I used to learn (way back when) wasn't free. However, recently I tried Eggbun with a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The way it works is that it talks to you like a friend teaching you through texts. It's pretty cool!

2. Practice reading - drop the romanizations 

After you learn hangul, I recommend you stop looking at romanizations altogether. Even if it takes you ages to read the thing in hangul. It's practice! The romanizations will lead you nowhere, if you really think about it. When you don't know how to pronounce words, just try to find audios of them. Even if you have to go with Google Translate's robot voice. Still better, in my opinion!

Trust your ears.

3. The basics of korean sentence structure

Chances are, Korean is very different from your native language. Whether that's English or not. The way they organize words within sentences is basically something completely different. Cooler, if you ask me, but that's just an opinion. 

So start by understanding the basics of this. And then you can go and start learning how to make your own sentences!

The book Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook has a chapter on this (Unit 2), and it always comes with exercises! It's free, too, which I think will please you guys as much as it pleased me. I actually use this book (well, the Intermediate volume) to learn and practice grammar too.

But actually...

4. Grammar

Once you've learned how to read and understand the basics of how to make sentences, grammar should come next. And it's a whole new world!

My go to for grammar and a whole lot of other stuff is a website called Talk to me in Korean. They have audio lessons accompanied by PDFs, which I love. I can listen on the go and write my notes on their PDFs, which I print out. They also make videos on youtube regularly, answering your questions, talking about culture, quick pop quizzes, etc. Basically they have everything, they teach well, and they're super super nice! Definitely recommend.

Currently, they have 9 levels of lessons on their website. All of them are free. 

Check out their curriculum and just marvel at how much they have on there to teach you!

5. Vocab

It comes as a surprise to no one that we need to have a repertoire of vocabulary to put our grammar knowledge to practice. So, where do you go for this?

I will vouch for Memrise until the end of time. If you don't know what Memrise is yet, let me tell you: it's a website/app that teaches you vocabulary through courses. It gives you points and ranking, medals and achievements. It reminds you when you should go back and revise words! You can find vocab on there from korean books, from kpop lyrics, from everything really. 

I use and abuse of this app. It's great for when you're out, bored or otherwise. You can be learning new words anywhere.

6. Listen and speak

Listen to korean being spoken. Ideally, at least a little bit every day. You can watch korean movies, variety shows, dramas, listen to radio shows. And when you do this, pay attention to what you're hearing. Words and expressions will start to stick in your head. Pronunciation will become easier too. Later, when you do your lessons, you might come across something you remember hearing before. It will all click in your head. I promise, this feeling is amazing!

And speak. Say the words you learn out loud. Talk to other korean students, natives, or even yourself. 

Whatever works. Do both! 

I use Myasiantv to watch tv shows and movies. It usually works really well, and you don't have to pay for HD glory.

All in all, I say you should try to find whatever works best for you. As you can probably tell, I'm not big on studying with books. I much prefer the practical approach, and finding fun ways to learn. For you, it might not be the same.

However, I hope that I've at least shed a light on the path that you will take on your new and exciting journey of learning korean.

Got any other recommendations? 

Tell me in the comments bellow what you think!

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