Tips on how to start learning Korean as an absolute beginner 

 May 11, 2021

By  Smriti Ekka

I came across many students who want to learn Korean just so they can understand Korean dramas without subtitles or understand lyrics of their favorite singers without translation.

Willing to know a foreign language is a great idea but like any other skills it requires a lot of time and effort to polish your skills.

Korean language classes

Probably the most important thing for any learner is to understand the reason why they choose to learn that particular language. You should be clear with the answer to your question WHY ? Once you know the reason. It should be your ultimate motivation for you to achieve that and you should only cater to the needs that requires you to achieve those goal.

It's very important for you to choose the goal which determines the amount of effort you will be putting in or the amount of fluency aiming for by the end.

You can categorize it in Short and long term goals :

Short term goals may include :

  • Maybe preparing to have basic fluency to be able to hold a small conversation with a foreigner.
  • Just aiming for a certificate to add in your curriculum vitae. 
  • To be able to place orders in restaurants, next time you visit Korea.

Whatever may be your reason for choosing the short term goals. You must select the resources according to it.

~ Resources required : A reliable resource. That's it !!

  •  Follow a few but reliable and authentic resources which will help you to gain enough knowledge to achieve basic fluency. How would you know the reliability and authenticity of any resource ?

Check the credibility of the teachers and the resources used by them. If you want to determine if a book author is credible, check the foreword/preface/introduction and back cover of the book. These sections usually provide information on the author's credentials/areas of expertise, etc.  Also check OneSearch to find other books and articles the author has written on the topic or related topics, or look for biographical information about the author.  OneSearch can also be used to find book reviews for the book you are using. 

Long term goals may include :

  • Applying for a job in a Korean company.
  • Applying for scholarships.
  • Interest in research.
  • Maybe wanting to open your own E-commerce site dealing with Korean customers.
  • Want to work in Korea. 

Whatever may be your reason to choose the long-term goal you must be more careful while selecting the resources you'll be using. Applying for Bachelors in the university or one to one offline institutes with tutors are the best and fastest way to learn Korean. 

~Resources required : Since acquiring skills to be able to master in any other language is not easy.

  • Talk to natives : Talking with Native Koreans through messages or Skype is the sure way to learn faster. You can use an online language exchange app as well like Speaky and HelloTalk etc.
  • Follow a curriculum : Don't get obsessed with lots of resources all at once. 
  • Make a habit : Immerse yourself in the culture, stay up-to-date on what's on the news, listen to podcasts, etc. All five senses have to be used while learning, for the brain to store everything in the subconscious mind. Make learning Korean a part of your daily life.
Korean language classes

Ways to acquire fluency quickly is to find your learning style. Everyone's learning style is different. What is your learning style ?

Find your learning style by following the link : VAK learning style

  • Visual learner :

If you are a visual learner. Try watching as many video lessons. You can learn and grasp more by viewing Korean movies, dramas or reality shows. Follow channels which upload small visual stories or skits for children on YouTube.

Recommended YouTube channels : SpongeMindTV, Conversational Korean and Prof. Yoon's Korean classes

  • Auditory learner :

If you are an auditory learner. Try listening to as much spoken Korean as possible by listening to songs or even podcasts. Listening to Korean radio channels is also a great way to enhance Korean learning skills.

Korean podcast recommendation : Podbbang

Korean Radio channels : MBC RadioKBS World and SBS 고릴라

  • Kinesthetic learner : 

Since these kinds of learners enjoy learning physically and have lesser concentration power. Focusing on hour long lectures will be of less use to you.

They require overall exposure, they learn vocabulary through physically experiencing the shape and use of the objects. The sentences are retained for long term by actively participating in the conversation and being able to understand the nuances of the whole conversation. 

Try learning through verbally repeating the sentences you hear. Write down and make notes of each small word or sentence, slowly and gradually in a notebook. You can retain words and phrases when put in use or come across circumstances where you have to use them. Try listening to as many audio-visual podcasts. To enhance reading capacity. Purchase physical books instead of learning through PDFs or print them out.

Book recommendations : Korean Grammar In UseYonsei Korean Workbook

The best way to learn is by observing and retaining as much information in your brain to store in your subconscious mind, that it becomes your habit. Those were the points which I think will be useful to you if you're a beginner in any language.

Thank you. 

If you have any questions or suggestions. Please leave them in the comment section below.

Smriti Ekka

Smriti Ekka graduated in Commerce and Library science, and currently she is working as a content writer at TOPIK Guide website. She is a Korean language and culture enthusiast and has been working across multiple disciplines which broadly addresses narratives of similarities between Korean and Indian culture. Apart from being a content writer at TOPIK Guide she manages Annyeong India website and has had her pieces published in Learn Korean in India website as well. In her other life, she is a singer, rising entrepreneur, life enthusiast and a learner.

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    1. Attaching ~고 있다 to the stem of verbs gives it the meaning of “I am __ ing. ” Eg: 먹고있어요. I’m eating.
      The same could be used to ask question. 먹고있어요 ? ( Are you eating ? ) 영화 보고 있어요 ? ( Are you watching movie ? )

      ~는 중이에요 carries the same meaning of doing something in the ~ing form. 중 literally means “ in the middle ”.
      Eg : 먹는 중이에요. ( I’m in the middle of eating. )
      Same could be used to ask question. Eg : 영화 보는 중이에요 ? ( Are you in the middle of watching a movie ? )

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