The Korean language, also known as Hangeul, is the official language spoken in both North and South Korea. Although it seems complex for non-Korean people, it is actually easier to learn than many other languages. This is because the alphabet only has 24 letters and many of the words are easy for English speakers to pronounce. By mastering the basics and developing useful study habits, you will eventually be able to read and write the language fluently.
Method 1 of 3: Learn the Basics
Step 1. Take face-to-face Korean courses
Before you start studying, you will need to learn the basics of the Korean language. The best way to do this is to take Korean language or writing courses. You could also take classes at a local institute or community center. Search online for Korean classes near you and register before the deadline.
If this is your first time learning it, choose basic or introductory classes
Step 2. Learn Korean with online resources
Some popular online language learning courses are “KoreanClass101”, “Talk to Me In Korean”, “TuneIn”, “Udemy” and “Coursera”. Some online classes, such as “KoreanClass 101” and “Talk to Me in Korean” are free. Other websites like "Udemy" and "Coursera" charge for classes, but also include an instructor. If you're not taking face-to-face classes, consider signing up for a paid course so that you can ask the instructor questions when you get stuck.
Step 3. Learn the Hangeul letters
Hangeul has 24 letters or jamo, 10 vowels, and 14 consonants. Before moving on to more complex words and phrases, memorize the Hangeul alphabet.
For example, to write the word "Hangeul", you must know all the letters. Some of them are ᄒ for “h”, ᅡ for “a”, ᄂ for “n”, ᄀ for “g”, ᅳ for “e” and “u”, and ᄅ for "L". The final word looks like this: “한글”
Step 4. Learn common phrases in Korean
Knowing common phrases will help you communicate if you visit Korea and are not fluent in the language. Learn phrases like "Hello, how are you?" and what time is it?" They will help you survive if you find yourself in a place where Korean is mostly spoken.
- For example, to say “Hello” or “Goodbye”, you will say “Anyoung haseyo” (AN-NYEONG-ha-se-yo). This is written like this in Hangeul: "안녕하세요".
- To ask for the time you can say "Jigeum myeochsiya?" (SE-GOON-moi-shia). This is written like this: "지금 몇 시야?"
- Learn to count to 10 so you can write and say numbers.
Step 5. Study the sentence structure in Korean
The basic structure of Korean sentences is first the subject, then the object, then the verb. For example, instead of writing or saying "I rode the horse," you would say "I rode the horse." Sentences in Korean must end in either an adjective or a verb.
For example, to say “I am a student”, you would say “I am a student” followed by the verb “to be”. It is written “나는 학생 이다” and pronounced “Naneun haksaeng-ida”
Method 2 of 3: Maintain Good Study Habits
Step 1. Take careful notes as you learn
When you have Korean lessons, take notes so you can study after teaching. These can include important details, grammar rules, and the pronunciation of some words. Actively writing while you learn will help you retain Korean and also give you more material to review when you study it.
- Focus on words and phrases that are difficult for you to remember or pronounce.
- Good notes have the pronunciation next to the Korean words.
Step 2. Record yourself and listen to yourself
The way you hear yourself in your mind may be different from how other people hear you. Recording your own voice while you practice will help you refine your Korean oral skills. Listen to your recording along with the correct Korean pronunciation and see where you are wrong. Try backing up and pronouncing the word or phrase appropriately.
Step 3. Create and follow a study schedule
To improve your Korean reading and writing skills, you will need to practice regularly. Set aside at least an hour or more each day at about the same time to practice your Korean. Separate each study session into parts so you don't feel overwhelmed. By sticking to a regimented schedule, you can develop your skills much faster.
For example, you can schedule 20 minutes to learn new Korean words, 20 minutes to translate from Korean to Spanish, and 20 minutes to read a book in Korean
Step 4. Save the difficult parts for later in your study
Korean has honorifics, which means that there are different words spoken depending on the person you are speaking to. In addition, there are specific conjugations for the past, present and future tenses. Instead of concentrating on these aspects of the language, save them for after you get more used to Korean words and phrases.
Honorifics are determined based on the age of the person you speak to and the type of relationship you have with them
Step 5. Use a translator when you study
Keep a language translation app or Google translator close by when you study so that you can translate words and phrases you don't know. Being able to translate at any time is faster and easier than having to look up words in the dictionary.
Some popular translation apps are Naver, GreenLife Korean English Translator, and iTranslate
Method 3 of 3: Strengthen Your Studies
Step 1. Have conversations with people who speak Korean
Talk to someone who is fluent in Korean and good with pronunciation. Tell him to correct you if you say or pronounce something incorrectly. The more you get used to speaking the language regularly in conversations, the faster you will be fluent.
You can try to find a Korean club or committee on your school campus or visit a Korean market or restaurant
Step 2. Watch Korean movies and shows
Take away the Spanish subtitles and try to understand what the characters are saying. This is particularly important if you don't know anyone who speaks Korean. If you hear a word you don't know, write it down in your notes so you can look it up later.
You can also listen to Korean music and podcasts
Step 3. Make flashcards
Write a Korean word on one side of the card and the Spanish equivalent on the other side. Read the word in Korean and try to remember the Spanish equivalent without turning the card over. You can study with the flashcards on your own or with someone else.
You can put complete words or phrases on the right side of the cards
Step 4. Read books in Korean
Buy Korean literature and try to read it. This will help you with your writing and your reading. You can also read Korean magazines and newspapers. If you have trouble reading something, you can enter it into a translator to help you.