Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

When hanne kim started Teaching Korean nine years ago, most of his students had personal or family ties to the region. But as South Korean pop culture exports have increased in popularity, so too has interest in learning Korean, she says.

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“These days, a lot of my students are really interested in K-pop and Korean plays,” says Kim, a Korean native language program coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is also an assistant lecturer. “They want to take a day trip, and they want to be able to read the signs in the restaurant and order food.”

Across the country, there is growing interest in learning Korean. American enrollment in Korean language courses at the university level increased 95% between 2006 and 2016 for more than 13,900 students; According to, Korean is the 11th most studied language in American colleges 2019 report From the Modern Language Association.

Read on for an overview of the basic components of Korean learning and see how online classes, applications, and other resources to speak the language can help you in your search.

Thanks to Korean films such as the Oscar-winning “Parasite”, Korean pop groups such as the Bond band BTS and even Korean cosmetics, interest in Korean pop culture has spread worldwide. This so-called Korean wave, popularly known as “hali”, has been a motivator for many aspiring speakers.

Beyond Pop Culture, South Korea’s Economic Strength – This is the World 11th largest economy – If you are interested in business, makes Korean a practical language to learn, says Yeonne Yoon, a Korean language and culture professor and Korean language program coordinator at Korean Dame University.

“If people know the Korean language and culture, they can find a job in South Korea at a major global company like Samsung, Hyundai or LG,” she says. “They can also get a government job in the US because Korean is one of the strategic languages ​​of the United States.”

Learning how to read the Korean alphabet, Hangul is a great first step for beginners.

“Hangul is a phonetic alphabet whose letters represent different sounds of consonants and vowels,” she says. “Different consonants and vowel characters of hangul are added to syllable blocks to write Korean words and sentences.”

The Korean alphabet has 24 individual letters – two fewer letters than the English alphabet – and 16 letters made up by a combination of individual letters.

Unlike the English alphabet, Hangul letters are combined into syllable blocks, within which letters can be placed horizontally and vertically. Each block represents a syllable.

For example, South Korea is called Hanguk in Korean. It is spelled 한국. The first syllable (han) consists of three letters, two at the top and one at the bottom. In the second syllable, 국 (guk), three letters are placed vertically.

King Sejong the Great of Korea invented Hangul in 1443, before Koreans read and wrote using difficult Chinese master and Chinese-based characters, says Yun. Hangul was an easy choice and as a service to promote the country’s low literacy rate.

Today, Hangul is a source of great pride among Koreans, even as a holiday to celebrate the alphabet: Hangul Day, which is 9 October.

To practice reading and writing Korean after learning Hangul, you can take advantage of it Number of free resources. Yun suggests these Korean newspapers for more advanced readers:

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Basic for free; Plus $ 6.99 per month, after a seven-day trial


skill level

North and South Korea have seven geographically based dialects, which are similar in that speakers from different regions can understand each other, says Yun.

Richard Yun, a Korean language teacher at the Chicago Korean Education Center, advises learning Seoul Korean.

“Seoul Korean is taught all over South Korea,” he says. Seoul is also the cultural, financial and government center of South Korea. It is combined like New York, DC and Hollywood. ”

More than half of South Korea’s population lives in the Seoul metro area.

Formal versus informal speech

Korean is a respectable language, which means that speakers use different forms of expression and different speech levels, depending on the person they are talking to and the person they are talking about. . Because of this, when you speak Korean, you should understand your social relationship with the person you are talking to, as well as anyone you are talking to about age, social status and kinship Huh.

In total, Koreans have seven speech levels, but non-speaking speakers do not have to learn all of them, especially when learning the language for the first time, Kim says.

Kim teaches an informal level that can be used with colleagues, in shops and restaurants, and a respectable level that will be used when speaking with a client or teacher. “But it’s still difficult to learn two levels of formality to speak,” she says.

Speaking practice korean

One of the best ways to practice speaking Korean is, says Richard Yoon.

“My goal is to have all my students find a language partner,” he says. “When you have a language partner, you have an incentive to improve. You can help them with English, and they can help you with Korean. “

Beginner, intermediate and advanced learners can try to do business with their partner: one hour of Korean followed by one hour of English, they say.

To find a language partner, Richard Yun suggests that Korean language learners look to join the local Meetup group. They can also create profiles for free HelloTalk The app, which acts like a dating app, helps people find language partners.

“Grammar is very different,” Kim says. “And the sentence structure is very different. In Korean, the verb is always at the end of a sentence. It is very difficult for people to remember this. ”

She says her students often struggle with Korean noun particles – an extra part of speech to remember and include sentences.

While Korean is a challenging language, Yeonne Yun says that it is not too difficult to learn that students are motivated, are good teachers and find fun ways to practice, such as making Korean friends and listening to K-pop.

According to the FSI, it takes an average of 2,200 square hours to become proficient in Korean, or 88 weeks to study several hours per day. To compare, FSI says you can learn the Spanish Or Italian in a fraction of the time.

While different people will learn in different places, Yeon Yuen provided a general timeline for learning Korean at four levels:

  • Beginners: At least two semesters (32 weeks or 180 hours of classroom instruction). This is usually enough time to pick up basic phrases needed to communicate in Korean while traveling, such as ordering food in restaurants and reading signs.
  • Intermediate At least six to eight semesters (96 to 128 weeks or 540 to 720 hours of classroom instruction).
  • Advanced: At least eight to 12 semesters (128 to 192 weeks or 720 to 1080 hours of classroom instruction).
  • Fluently More than 12 semesters.

Those who are highly motivated, participate in an immersion program or study in South Korea will likely learn more quickly than those who do not devote much time to study.

If you want to learn Korean fast, Kim recommends in-person classes. She says that being a teacher to answer questions and supporting a peer group is very helpful.

If COVID-19 social disturbances make person-learning impossible, then interactive online classes may be a good option. And if classes are not available where you live, Kim recommends finding a language partner who can check your pronunciation and answer questions.

Studying such a language in a country where it is an official language can be a way to learn it more quickly. There are many Korean immersion programs in South Korea, such as Korean Language Institute of Yonsei University And Korean Language Center of Korea University, But Kim advised him to at least study the language in America before starting. She says that some of her students who did them without Korean studies found a difficult learning environment to read.

Watching Korean dramas can also help. “I had a student who took four Korean classes at my university,” Kim says. “I was surprised how good she was. I asked her how she became so good, and she said that she had watched a lot of Korean dramas. “

Some of the most popular plays are “Mr. Sunshine, “” Goblin “(also known as” Guardian: Lonely and Great God “),” Crash Landing on You “and” Kingdom. “

Yeonne Yoon says that students trying to learn Korean quickly should not be afraid of making mistakes and try to use new words and new grammar points every day.

Many Korean language resources are available online, from formal courses to instructional videos.

If you complement an individual or interactive course, a Korean language app may be a good fit.

  • King Sejong InstituteMobile app. Created and operated by the Korean government, it has lots of free materials for learning Korean.
  • Duolingo. This app provides short, personalized lessons. Its original version is free, and after the free trial, it costs $ 6.99 for the premium account.
  • Memrise. It offers both free and paid lessons. A subscription to the app costs $ 89.99 annually.

Another resource is the Arirang TV show “Let’s Speak Korean”, which provides basic Korean reading and speaking lessons. You can do this Stream episode for free.

If you are looking for a formal course, here are some free options:

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