Learning Korean is a rising trend that is taking the world by storm. This is likely due to the growing popularity of everything Korean – from K-Drama, KPOP and spicy Korean foods.
Compared to any other languages, Hangul is practically one of the easiest to learn in terms of pronunciation, grammar and intonation. Not to mention the availability of a plethora of Korean language learning sites to help you with.
Whether you want to visit Korea or simply want to better understand the K-drama you’re watching, you may have already thought of learning their language.
In this article, M2Comms has compiled a list of the things you need to master along with the tips that will help you learn the Korean language.
The Basics of Learning the Korean Language
1. Master the Korean Alphabet
Learning Hangul is a good way to start learning to speak Korean. They are fairly simple but may seem strange to you because it is completely different compared to the Roman alphabet.
Here are some interesting facts about Hangul:
- Hangul has been used since the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century.
- It has 24 letters composed of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. But, if you include 16 diphthongs and double consonants, there are 40 letters in total.
How to Do It:
This alphabet is almost straightforward – all you have to do is to memorize each character and the sound that is associated with it. Although you may initially find it easier to use the Roman alphabet, you will soon realize that it has some serious limitations which can lead to mispronunciations.
Check out how to pronounce each letter here.
2. Learn How to Count in Korean
Koreans use two different sets of cardinal numbers: Korean and Sino-Korean. The Korean form is used to number things and age between 1 and 99, while the Sino-Korean is used for dates, money, addresses, phone numbers, and numbers above 100.
Here’s how to count in Korean:
And in Sino-Korean:
3. Widen Your Korean Vocabulary
Once you’ve mastered the Hangul and learned how to count, you should then expand your knowledge to memorize simple vocabulary. Ideally, you can start with as many simple, everyday Korean words as possible. The wider your vocabulary is, the easier it is to speak the language fluently.
4. Learn Conversational Korean Phrases
Equipping yourself with basic conversational phrases can help you survive an interaction with Korean-speakers. Here are some of the phrases you can start with:
- Hello안녕 – annyeong haseyo
- Hello (on phone) 여보세요 – yeoboseyo
- Yes 네 – ne
- No 아니요 – aniyo
- Thank you 감사합니다 – kamsahamnida
- Good morning/afternoon/evening 안녕하십니까 – annyeong hashimnikka
- Nice to meet you 반갑습니다 – bangapsumnida
- Excuse me 실례하겠습니다 – shille hamnida
- I’m sorry – 최성합니다 – chwayseonghamnida
- See you later 나중에 봬요 najunge bwaeyo
- How are you? 어떠십니까? – ottosibnikka
- What? 뭐? – mwo
5. Study the Basic Korean Grammar
It is important to study the Korean grammar in order to speak the language correctly. However, there are several distinct differences between the English and Korean grammar such as:
- In Korean, a sentence typically follows the subject-object-verb order.
- The subject of a sentence is commonly omitted when the subject being referred to is known by both the reader and the speaker.
- The adjectives function like verbs in which they can be altered and may take on different forms to indicate the tense of a sentence.
6. Practice Fluency in Pronunciation
Likewise, Korean pronunciation is greatly different from English and one of the common mistakes English speakers commit is to assume that the pronunciation of Romanized Korean letters is the same with the way it is pronounced in English.
Learning how to speak Korean properly takes a lot of practice and here’s some tips to help you master the language and become a fluent speaker:
1. Immerse in the Language
For retention, you can spend some time handwriting series of symbols and consecutively pronouncing their sounds. Then, proceed in writing simple words and keep on immersing with the language to keep your memory sharp.
TIP: Keep a little notepad at all times. It will come in handy every time you learn a new word and have to write it down. You can also use it to improve your skills in translating Korean to English words or vice versa.
2. Watch Korean Drama
Korean drama is not only a fun and entertaining way to learn the language – it also helps you familiarize with the Korean pronunciation, not to mention, the expressions and gestures. It’s one of the easily-accessible methods to learn Korean and is a good way to learn their culture as well.
3. Listen to Korean Music
Additionally, you can also listen to and watch Korean music videos with lyrics and sing along. You can also practice by translating some sentences into English and memorize them.
4. Download Language Learning Apps
Most of the resources for learning Korean are easily accessible including apps available for studying languages, available at the tip of your fingers. Here are some:
- Duolingo – is a language-learning platform with over 80 different language courses across 23 languages.
- HelloTalk – is a messaging platform that connects you with native speakers of other languages. Its features are aimed to improve your writing and communication skills.
- Memrise – is a user-generated learning platform that uses flashcards as memory aids. It has over 150 language courses across 25 languages.
5. Enroll in a Language Course
If you are serious about learning the Korean language and are willing to spend time to become a fluent Korean speaker, then you should consider enrolling in a language course. There are many learning courses available online and free. Nevertheless, you can also join a language exchange community. This way, you can both benefit by learning each other’s native language and culture as well.
Following these steps will help you learn the language and speak Korean in no time! All you need is a little patience with yourself. Through constant practice you’ll be surprised to see yourself greatly improved.
Did you love what you read? What other languages would you like to learn? Let us know in the comments section below.
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