How do I learn Korean?

One of the setback of living in Korea is that outside of my university, not many people speak english. This is a bit of a trouble when I want to go travel outside of my city, or sometimes just ask whether the food contains pork or not. Well, that is the main reason that I’m learning the language now, and I’ll share some of my own learning steps. I have to remind you though, that this is not the universally correct way of learning Korean from scratch, and this is only something that’s most suitable for me.

  1. Learn hangeul. Yes, this is the most basic skill to learn in the korean language. Since mostly everything is written using hangeul in Korea, you must learn this. And also, using hangeul is a better way to memorize korean words, because sometimes the writing gets too weird when written using latin alphabet. Luckily, the hangeul is not that difficult to learn, as compared to, let’s say, memorizing chinese characters. There are vowels and consonants, and they work pretty much just like the latin alphabet.
  2. Get some korean language book for beginners. I know some of you might prefer to go straight to watching K-dramas and listen to K-pop. But if you really want to learn the language, you should have a good understanding on how the language is structured, and of course some good grammar basics. By using these kinds of books, you can get to know the basic korean grammar rules, and some basic korean verbs and expressions.
  3. Memorize vocabulary. Yes, this part is sometimes kinda painful (at least for me because I’m just not good at memorizing vocabularies). But it’s also really important nonetheless. Whenever I tried to read some announcement here in Korea, around 80% of it is made up of words unknown to me. In this case, using google translate is a good idea, but it’s better if you use it in a word by word basis or for short phrases. If you use it to translate a really long sentence or paragraph, it can get weird sometimes.
  4. Start listening to songs, watch movies, manhwas, etc. Once you got a grasp of how the korean language works, and understand most of the commonly used grammar, you can just go to this step. Because, based on my opinion, going through textbooks chapter by chapter just get tiring after a while (not to mention sometimes it’s still quite far from the real everyday language). By doing this you can learn some real everyday expressions while having fun. So far what I did was read some korean webcomics which already have english translations available. That way, I can directly compare my interpretation with how it should be translated into.

Well of course right now I’m still a noob in terms of korean language capability. But hey, at least now I know how to order a taxi driver to go to a certain place 😀


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