Want to know how to learn Korean fast? We’ve put together a list of helpful tips along with some useful Korean tools and resources to help you reach fluency as quickly as possible.
Creating a weekly learning schedule (and sticking to it!), incorporating Korean into your daily activities and finding a language partner are all excellent ways to learn Korean fast. Using a language resource like LingoDeer, Talk to Me in Korean and Rocket Korean can help too.
How to Learn Korean Fast: 15 Top Tips
1. Create a Learning Schedule
The first thing you'll want to focus on when you're learning any language – and especially a difficult one like Korean – is creating a study schedule. It will:
- Outline your goals and ambitions and help you to visualize them
- Help you track your progress
- Allow you to plan for the long term
Studies show that creating a study plan helps to increase your productivity and can help you to achieve better results. With a schedule, you'll also be able to understand how much time you can set aside for studying in your daily routine. If you're wondering how to learn Korean fast, we'd recommend trying to do a little bit every day, even if it's just five minutes to recap some vocabulary.
We put together a handy calculator to help you work out how long it could take you to become fluent in Korean. Check it out in this blog: How long does it take to learn a new language?
2. Incorporate Korean into Your Daily Routine
If setting aside an hour or so a day to learn Korean seems a little overwhelming, there are other ways to make sure you’re getting a lot of exposure to the language.
Instead of blocking out large amounts of your day to achieve your Korean goals, you can try and incorporate your studies into your daily activities. An easy way to do this is by listening to a podcast while you carry out your chores, drive to work or while you’re at the gym. A few that come highly recommended include the TalktoMeinKorean Podcast and Let’s Learn Korean.
If podcasts aren't for you, why not read a Korean comic or book on your lunch break or while you’re on your commute to work. At home, instead of turning on your usual Netflix show, you can opt for watching a Korean drama too (we talk more about this later!).
3. Choose the Right Learning Method for You
When it comes to figuring out how to learn Korean fast, you need to start with a method that works for you. Some students prefer learning in a classroom while others will benefit more from a gamified app like Memrise.
First, you need to figure what kind of studying technique you're most responsive to. A few common methods include signing up to a language school, hiring a personal tutor, or purchasing textbooks for self-learning. These methods tend to be quite expensive though, and aren’t ideal if you’re on a budget.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other methods that don’t cost the earth and some that are completely free! The internet is a great place to look and is full of resources to help you learn Korean fast. For example:
- If you enjoy learning using your phone or laptop, try an online course.
- Maybe in-person tutors are too expensive; have a look on iTalki for an online tutor instead.
- If you are an avid cinephile try watching Korean dramas or movies
- Perhaps you love music; you can listen to K-pop and have a sing-along.
Whatever method you pick, make sure it’s the right one for you! We’ll talk a little bit more about these methods later on.
4. Focus on Korean Cognates and Loanwords
Learning a language can be daunting, especially when you start to think about how many new words you’ll actually need to learn. Luckily, there are some Korean words that are similar to English. These come in two different forms:
- Cognates are words in two languages that either directly or indirectly share the same origin.
- Loanwords are words taken directly from one language to another.
Although Korean and English are not directly, or even indirectly related, some English words were adopted by the Korean language. Focusing on these words will help you build up a relatively good foundation of vocabulary without working too hard.
Just a few examples of cognates and loanwords:
컴퓨터 = computer
버스 = bus
게임 = game
노트 = notebook
커피 = coffee
아이스크림 = icecream
카드 = card
키 = key
포스트잇 = post-it
프린터 = printer
5. Focus on High-Frequency Word Lists
When you learn a language, you don’t actually have to know 100% of the vocabulary; in a lot of languages, only 20% of its vocabulary makes up 80% of everyday speech. That means that if you study word frequency lists, i.e a list of the most common verbs, nouns, adjectives, phrases and expressions, you should be on your way to figuring out how to learn Korean fast.
You can start by building up your vocabulary with basic words and phrases such as numbers, months, days of the week and other conversational phrases. It's also key to learn Korean words that you need to know, depending on the reason that you have decided to learn Korean. For instance, if it’s for work it’s important to learn office-related vocabulary, and so forth.
6. Immerse Yourself in Korean
Immersion is one of the best ways to learn Korean fast. But, if you can’t afford to jet-set off to Korea straight away, there are plenty of other ways to make sure Korean is part of everything you say and do. If you want, you could visit your closest Korean town, shop or restaurant and try to strike up a conversation with a native.
We’re not all brave enough to do that though, so there are other ways to do this as well! It can be something as simple as changing your phone or computer language settings to Korean.
Popular apps and online platforms like Facebook or Youtube can also be accessed in different languages. If you frequently use these social media platforms, switching them to Korean could be a great idea.
7. Find a Language Partner
Finding a Korean language partner is a sure way to learn Korean fast! A language partner can be anyone: a stranger, your friend, your family member, or even your partner. Often, learning a language for a loved one (platonic or not) is one of the best forms of motivation.
However, finding Korean language partners could be the tricky part. If you don’t live in a city with a large Korean community, you can try finding a language partner online instead. Platforms like iTalki, MeetUp, HelloTalk or Tandem are ideal sites for doing just that. Websites like these encourage you to meet people online and create meaningful connections while participating in a language exchange. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more professional, you can find a teacher on Preply.
8. Label Everything in Korean
One of the best ways to learn is to visualize your environment in your target language: in this case Korean. Until you can travel to Korea, or maybe Korea Town in your city, sticky notes will become your best friend!
You can use sticky notes to label different household items. This could include items in the kitchen, bathroom, living room or bedroom. That way, as you pass by items, or use them, you will be able to associate the item with its Korean alternative, and you are more likely to memorize it and store it in your long term memory.
9. Learn Korean Hangul
Hangul is the Korean alphabet. It may seem daunting at first to try to learn a whole new alphabet, but mastering this is one of the best ways to work out how to learn Korean fast. After all, it means you will have access to more materials like Korean books, movies and internet resources to help you study quicker!
Hangul is a very logical alphabet and it's relatively easy to learn. It shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours to learn it, and a few days to get comfortable with it. The alphabet is built on the sounds of the Korean language, so you will also be able to practice your Korean pronunciation. We talk more about how to learn Hangul in our article: How hard is it to learn Korean?
10. Watch Korean Cinema (especially K-Dramas)
When you’re trying to figure out how to learn Korean fast, it’s important to make the studying part as fun as possible. Watching Korean dramas, or movies is entertaining, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in Korean culture too.
Recently, Korean movies have been receiving a lot of recognition with films like Okja, or Parasite making it to Hollywood and impressing the critics. Korean cinema is becoming a lot more accessible, so there is no excuse not to watch some movies!
Aside from Korean movies, K-Drama's are also gaining popularity. Once hard to access outside of South Korea, you can now watch some of the most famous K-Dramas on Netflix. Drama's like Crash Landing on You or Goblin are a great place to start. Subtitles are usually available in a selection of languages including Spanish, Portuguese, German or English.
11. Listen to K-Pop!
Similarly to K-Dramas, K-Pop has also been gaining popularity in countries outside of South Korea. Popular K-Pop bands include BTS and BlackPink. Their songs are extremely catchy and are bound to get stuck in your head. Learning the lyrics to some of the more popular songs will help you to build your vocabulary and practice your pronunciation too. Listening to K-Pop songs will also give you an insight into Korean culture and give you something to talk about with other Korean speakers.
12. Listen to Podcasts or Watch Youtube
Another tip for learning Korean fast would be immersing yourself in Korean by watching Youtube videos or listening to podcasts. Youtube videos are fantastic for language learning because they are free, accessible and easy to use.
You can find Youtube videos on practically any topic under the sun. Whether you are into gardening, cooking, literature, DIY, or medicine, you will be able to find a Youtube channel to benefit your interests.
If Youtube isn’t your thing: try podcasts. The idea is the same! You can find a podcast for virtually any topic and they are also free and accessible. All you need is a smartphone with a podcast app or an app like Spotify.
Learning something while using your hobbies and interests is a sure way to learn Korean fast. Instead of listening to boring textbook dialogues, or teacher lectures during class, you can learn based on things that interest you. The power of repetition is key here: so make sure to repeat what you are listening to benefit from it the most!
13. Practice Writing in Korean
A lot of people choose to skip the writing part when they start learning a language; coming to the conclusion that they only really need to speak to communicate. However, if you are wondering how to learn Korean fast, understanding how to write in Korean can open a lot of doors for you.
When you're learning how to write in Hangul you can communicate with more people on social media platforms or language exchange apps. You can correspond with a pen pal from South Korea, or even keep a diary in Korean!
Keeping a diary is actually one of the best ways to practice writing in a foreign language. A diary is meant to be written every day, giving you the opportunity to practice Korean very regularly. Additionally, you can focus on learning vocabulary that is most beneficial for your everyday use: like the vocabulary to help you describe your workday, your personal life and topics that interest you.
14. Start Reading in Korean
Reading in Korean is another important skill that will help you to learn Korean fast. It’s one of the hardest skills to efficiently master, but it’s more than worth the effort.
Start with something easy like reading websites you frequently visit on the internet or using your favourite social media platforms in Korean. That way you will get used to the most frequently used terms and phrases on the internet.
The next step would be to read your favourite book in Korean. If you start with a story that you already know, you won't have the worry of not understanding the plot or the characters. You can focus your entire attention on understanding each sentence in Korean, taking note of any unusual grammar on the way.
While you're reading, try circling phrases and terms you want to remember or those that you don't know. Write a list of new vocabulary and add it to a flashcard app like Memrise. As with everything, repetition is key, so don’t be afraid to re-read the same page or chapter over and over again until you understand what's being said.
15. Use Language Hacks to Learn Korean Fast
The final thing we’d recommend is trying out some popular language hacks to help you learn Korean fast. If you don't know what hacking is; it's anything that can speed up your learning process without putting in too much extra effort.
A few language hacks that might work for you, include:
- Using Mnemonics. This is when you associate Korean words with a sound or an English word. It helps you retain these words in your long-term memory.
- Try the Pomodoro Method. This is a popular method used by students of all languages and disciplines. The idea is to break up studying into smaller chunks of time. The most common one being 25 minutes of study time with a 5-minute break following. This will mean you won’t burn out after a long study session, and you can study more productively.
- Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS). Spaced Repetition Systems are a great method to ensure you remember large amounts of vocabulary fast and effectively. Language learning platforms like Anki or Memrise are SRS's. These apps focus on delivering high columns of content in the form of gamified activities.
5 Tools and Resources to Help You Learn Korean, Fast
If you want to know how to learn Korean fast, it's always a good idea to get a helping hand from some language learning software. Here are some of our favourites:
1.Talk to Me in Korean: 4.5/5
Talk to Me in Korean is an online language learning programme that caters exclusively to Korean learners. It first started as a Youtube channel, but now comes in the form of audio and video lessons, covering all of the basics of Korean in one simple app. It's been around for over 10 years, so we'd like to think that they know what they’re doing.
- Covers all levels; beginner to advanced
- Free content available is incredibly thorough
- Materials are available to download offline
- Publishes its own line of textbooks too.
- No way to track progress via the app
- You need premium membership to unlock more content
- No official mobile app.
2. LingoDeer: 4/5
Lingodeer is a platform that teaches you all of the different elements of Korean with a heavy focus on grammar. The founders believe that grammar will help you to bridge the gaps in learning and you will be able to gain a better understanding of Korean vocabulary and syntax.
- Clear explanations of the Hangul writing system
- Grammar focused lesson plans available
- Quite affordable
- It’s great to see a language like Korean get the spotlight for once, instead of other languages like Mandarin or Japanese.
- Repetitive lessons
- Not all languages have the same amount of content available
- Not all features are available on the desktop version.
3. Speechling Review: 3/5
Speechling is an app that helps you to improve your Korean pronunciation, an important element of language learning that many courses overlook. As well as a selection of games to improve you're listening and comprehension skills, you can have your speech reviewed and corrected by native speakers. While Speechling is a great resource, you'll need some additional material to become fluent in Korean.
- Comprehensive learning method
- The free plan is quite generous
- Feedback from native speakers
- Practice sentences are a little strange
- Only a supplementary tool
- Too advanced for beginners
4. Rocket Korean: 4/5
Rocket Languages is one of the most comprehensive online language learning platforms available. It’s a desktop and mobile app that uses a traditional teaching approach to take you from a complete beginner to an advanced speaker. It's quite expensive, however, if you look past that you can have a great language course to help you learn Korean.
- Simple interface that is easy to follow
- Flexible learning to suit all students
- Endless content for hours of learning
- One-off payment for premium access for life
- Opportunities to practice speaking.
- Expensive first payment
- Too much English used and not enough Korean
- The content and exercises can get repetitive
- Emails and offers can get annoying
- The quality of content depends on the language.
5. KoreanClass101: 3/5
KoreanClass101 is an online resource dedicated solely to listening to Korean and improving your comprehension of the language. While it's primarily audio-based, you'll also have the chance to improve your pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.
- There is a ton of material available
- The user face is very polished and easy to use
- Downloadable content is available.
- Too much English is used within the app.
- The site can be a little overwhelming (even with the nice user face).