So you want to learn Korean? Or as the South Korean locals call it: Hangugeo (한국어)
The ‘Korean Wave’ (한류) is washing over the world right now. No, we’re not talking about a tsunami!
The Korean Wave describes the global influence of South Korea’s popular culture. Including Korean-Pop bands like BTS, Korean TV dramas like the Swoon, and Korean films like Parasite (winner of 6 Oscars!) and Old Boy' (winner of Palme D'or and Grand Prix at Cannes Festival). Put simply: the world is falling in love with Korean culture. The result? More people than ever are desperate to learn Korean language. In fact: Korean is arguably the coolest language to learn right now.
Long overlooked in favour of learning Japanese or Chinese, this new boom in Korean language learning means Korean is THE coolest language to learn right now.
So what do you say? Are you in?
Let’s drop some facts. There are 76 million native Korean speakers in the world (with more speakers in China, Japan, the US, Canada and even Russia). Kind of cool, right?
The Korean alphabet – ‘Hangul’ – was created by King Sejong in 1443 when he designed phonetic 24-letters to look like the shape your mouth and tongue make as you speak. GENIUS! Consequently, Hangul is considered the world’s easiest writing system and Korea even has a national holiday celebrating it: 9 October!
Korean is also a language isolate (meaning it doesn’t share any linguistic origin with another language). This makes learning Korean pretty special No... awesome! And you know what? If you learn Korean – that makes you awesome too.
In this fun learn Korean guide – we give you super useful advice, videos, and tips and tricks for learning Korean through language immersion.
There are hundreds of reasons to learn Korean. Acquiring this language lets you:
Oh, this is just the start...
Bloomberg ranked South Korea 2nd in 2020’s Innovation Index. This means the country is making waves in the business, information, technology and communication world. Powerful Korean corporations like Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai Motor attract huge employment interest. The economy is thriving. And it’s a strong presence in the United Nations, partly thanks to former secretary Ban Ki-moon.
This means you can supercharge your career with Korean. Language learners are taking on the language hoping for a piece of the action!
The Korean Wave began in the 1980/90s and spread across Asia. But it was songs like Gangnam Style by PSY (2012) that helped spread Korea’s popular culture to the West.
Remember him? Over 4 Billion years later – and people have gone crazy for Korean popular culture. Language carries the culture of a country within it. So by learning Korean, you can become a part of that culture too!
In ‘The Birth of Korean Cool’, author Euny Hong calls Korea’s popular culture boom:
"The world's biggest, fastest cultural paradigm shift in modern history."
So what’s the hype? Well, many are signing up to Korean courses to better understand:
K-Pop bands: like BTS, BLACKPINK, EXO and Girls’ Generation in the original language and sing along!
K-Dramas: like Swoon, Hospital Playlist, Boys Over Flowers, The World of the Married, and Crashing Landing on You. Survival thriller series "Squid Game" has become Netflix's most watched show ever and sent the internet into meltdown. Plus, it's inspiring people to learn Korena.
Korean Films: (without subtitles!) like Old Boy – winner of the prestigious Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes Film Festival. And Parasite – winner of 4 Oscars including Best Picture.
Many are also inspired to learn from their favourite Korean variety shows like Running Man, beauty cosmetics tutorials, YouTube vloggers, video games and more!
Learning Korean throws you inside the cultural bubble – instead of outside looking in.
YES! Learning Korean can open HUGE doors for you in your life. Personally, professionally, socially, romantically… the possibilities are endless. Excited? Damn right.
We know you want to check out our Korean courses. So click learn Korean here.
Learning any language can be easy with the right tools, mindset, practice and motivation. 😉
The good news is: Korean the easiest Asian language to learn for Western speakers.
Here’s why you can learn Korean:
Asking ‘how long to learn Korean’? is asking an impossible question. For real. Everyone’s unique lives, time, and motivations mean their language learning journeys are different.
The awesome thing is… just 10 minutes is enough to start learning Korean. That’s right! So whether you have a free week, a free afternoon, or even just 10 minutes… especially just 10 minutes... you can start learning Korean today. Woo! 🎉
Want to know something crazy about language learning? A lot of people get bogged down in the books and forget how to communicate to people in the real world. That’s why our app’s video and audio clips of REAL native Korean speakers teaching you real language in context is super effective.
This way – you can learn Korean fluently, learn Korean in one year, learn Korean language in 30 days, or even just a short afternoon session… if you really want 👀
Don’t believe us? Here are two fun clips to pump you up:
‘We look forward to meeting you’ = 우리는 당신과의 만남을 기대해요
‘think positive thoughts’ = 긍정적인 생각을 해요
See? You got this! We believe in you.
We know what you’re wondering... how to start learning Korean!?
Great question… we’re liking where you’re at. You’re your own boss, remember!?
So listen up:
Sound good? Sweet.
Your way of learning must fit into your life without stress, letting you learn at your own pace, on your own time, and while keeping motivated.
It’s now time to take your first steps to learn Korean.
Landing in Seoul at the click of your fingers would be nice, right? But that’s not easy right now. (Thanks COVID). We know life is busy and your time is limited. So it’s time to get creative…
So what options do I have?
The rise of language apps [especially cool ones like Memrise… *cough*] are a great option for learning a language. At any time. From any place.
Life is crazy busy. We know. There are a million and one things to do. That’s why your challenge of learning Korean MUST feel super fun and exciting, not just like another chore in your life! And the time you spend learning HAS to be put to the best possible use.
You may think: ‘Surely an app is just a textbook on my phone?’ and you’re spot on. A lot of apps are digitised versions of large textbooks which recite words and phrases in a rather robotic and bored tone of voice.
Not us! Our app’s 3200 audio and video clips of Korean locals speaking over 1600 words and phrases in context hit you with REAL LANGUAGE.
Forget the textbooks. By tuning your ears to understand how words and phrases are used in different situations, and how to speak them yourself – you’ll be sparking brilliant conversations in no time. Our app puts you face to face with real sounds, accents, gestures and facial expressions of native speakers… instead of asking you to imagine them from a textbook. We like to call it being street smart, not book smart.
People will have preferred ways of learning a language, of course. To help you, here are a few options to consider when learning Korean.
The internet’s power means there are some cool resources for learning Korean online. These include a Korean online learning course with tutors, finding a Korean learning website, language quizzes, language partner chats, and more. Plus tuning into Korean music, TV, film and YouTube to supplement your learning.
If sticking to a big screen is your thing, we actually have a website for those who want to hop online and learn Korean from their laptop. As well as an app (which can be used without WIFI or 4G) for those who learn better on the move!
Trying to put the kids to bed? Exhausted after a long day’s work? Feel like there’s literally no time in the day? Yep, we hear you.
You need a way of learning that doesn’t feel like an obligation or that you’re making time for it. Remember: this is your choice! Ask yourself why you want to learn Korean? And think: wouldn’t you rather enjoy a quick and fun Korean learning session on your commute to work than begrudgingly drag yourself to language class after it?
Our immersive language courses mean you can hear local Koreans speaking to you for 3 minutes, 30 minutes or 3 hours. Waiting for your food to cook? Give it a try! And start learning here.
The point of learning a language is to use it in real-life, right? You need to be strolling down Seoul’s street markets and interacting with locals with confidence. Trying delicious pork. Going sightseeing. Starting your new job? Falling in love? Whatever your reasons – the future is difficult to predict. The point is: learning Korean lets you create new experiences!
After all: 경험은 최고의 스승이다 (experience is the best teacher)
Learn to speak Korean aloud
You need real-world language competence. And to achieve this: BE CONFIDENT! Try speaking aloud, just go for it. Banish fear and embrace those mistakes – because they help us learn.
To fast forward your Korean language learning, harness your time and motivation.
Ahhh… the age-old saying. Hard work pays off. At Memrise: we like to think relevant work pays off. Learn what you need to know to understand people and communicate in real life. Our app cuts to the chase and makes that possible.
Hangul: what to learn first when learning Korean!
Learning the 24 letters that make up the Korean alphabet (called Hangul) is your first step. These will help you understand written Korean easily and how syllables are formed.
Ride the Korean wave
Looking for an easy way in? Let your K-Pop, K-Drama and Korean film obsession begin. Watch and listen both with and then without subtitles to pick up words, phrases, and sentence structure. K-Pop fans even look for their favourite articles or magazine interviews in Korean and use them for reading practice, or print out lyrics and follow them as they listen to their favourite songs!
We’ve said this already. But you must hear this:
Your language learning has to fit into your life easily, letting you learn at your own pace and on your own time, while keeping you motivated.
Our team of language experts have worked together to create a language learning software that makes this possible. How? Keep our Korean courses in your back pocket and open one to learn whenever you have a good moment. Even just 5 minutes – especially just 5 minutes – is enough to make learning Korean a reality.
After an easy way to learn Korean? We got you covered.
We believe language immersion is the best way to learn a new language.
Many people think this simply means moving to another country. NO! To properly immerse yourself – you need to surround yourself in the language and try speaking it yourself! Don’t expect to walk around and magically become fluent. There’s not something in the water! Travel is difficult right now. But the good news is: with our app, you can immerse yourself in Korean language from the comfort of your sofa.
Language immersion allows you to experience almost all aspects of life in the language you’re learning. Gestures, accent, tone of voice, facial expression. Watching and listening to locals, even virtually, inspires you to learn so you can interact and connect with people. Forget textbooks and worksheets. They have no personality. This is how you learn fast.
This is the foundation of our app: learning language in the most natural way possible by listening to native speakers and speaking back to them. This lets you constantly develop proficiency by adding new vocabulary and contexts to your understanding!
Our audio and video clips of locals hit you with the authentic (real-life!) version of the language in different contexts. NOT robotic voice clips that will help you pass a test.
Repeating and memorising these is effectively how you learn Korean language. Now time to try some speaking or K-Pop singing in the shower!
It sounds simple. But the easiest and most effective way is to learn what you need to learn to achieve your goals. There is no point wading through a thick Korean novel – if your goal is to start conversations and make friends in Seoul!
Ask yourself WHY and HOW you want to use Korean language. And laser on what words and phrases will this happen. This means learning how to understand and speak words and phrases to use with locals,
대박 (daebak) = "awesome!
Yes it is. Here are some more tips to get you pumped up and ready to learn Korean today.
Do what you love doing already – but in Korean!
Why only do the things you love in one language? Boring! People forget to continue their interests when they learn another language. Find Korean subtitles on your favourite show. Do what you love: watching football, podcasts, funny YouTube video fails, whatever – but do it in Korean!
Remember to be polite!
Korean culture consists of social hierarchy, which means the language you use depends on who you’re talking to. For your age or younger – use the informal. But for an older friend, and especially a boss, a teacher or a stranger… use the polite form. Even better, call them by their title: older sister, teacher, etc. Read our Korean language etiquette blog for more on this.
Speak Speak Speak!
Speak your Korean words and phrases with confidence. Seriously. Mistakes are part of the game. The more you get used to speaking Korean aloud, the better. Try it on your walk, while you're cooking, showering, any time! We believe in you.
And remember that being confident to communicate is more important than being pitch perfect!
Be Street Smart (not Book Smart) with your learning
While book resources can help supplement your Korean with grammar and vocab… keep your eye on the prize. Your goal is to enjoy communicating in Korean.
The fun thing is: our app helps you do exactly that. By giving you translations of words and phrases, showing when they’re used in different situations, and teaching you how to learn and speak them to be understood by others. Simple.
Memrise is brilliant for:
Memrise is less brilliant for:
You may say we’re biased as this is Memrise.com. But for real! We’VE created our language learning system to cover all the things we see missing in the other books, videos, and apps out there. Memrise lets you learn Korean fast... and it’s fun! You learn the vocabulary that you find useful. Quickly. And keep motivated by having fun. All while surrounding yourself with Korean native speakers – which all gives you the confidence to communicate! Sounds cool?
We’ve worked tirelessly to build the best app to learn Korean. The app is created from the ground up to make it a fun and effective learning experience on your phone and on-the-go. Perfect for learning Korean for beginners.
How quickly does the time go? It’s scary. That’s why our app cuts to the chase. Forget just learning stuff for the sake of it. You need to learn a language in a way that inspires real connections with real people. This is why our app uses real native speakers to teach you to speak like the locals do. So you can discover and embrace new people, countries and cultures. All this enriches your life!
That’s our complete guide to learning Korean. How excited are you!?
‘I want to learn Korean’! Yes, we love to hear that. Download our free app to learn Korean with Memrise now.
Congratulations on taking this step. Remember: just go for it! Mistakes are okay (actually: encouraged) at this stage! We’d love to hear how you’re getting on. So Tweet us @memrise or DM us on Instagram @memrise to let us know!