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With K-pop’s increasing popularity, international trade between the UK and Korea booming and with the advance of migration and globalisation, learning Korean is in high demand. Being fluent in this fascinating language will enable you to establish cultural bonds and true friendships with Korean-speaking people while you improve your job prospects and become more competitive.
If you are an English teacher, for example, you should know that South Korea is an amazing destination to teach English abroad as it offers excellent salaries and benefits. Of course, at least an intermediate level of Korean will help you make the most of your experience in the country (not to mention get by in everyday tasks such as going to the supermarket!).
Additionally, fluency in Korean is not that hard to achieve. Even if Korean is nothing like English in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation or even the alphabet, learning these new systems is relatively simple, especially when compared to other Asian languages such as Mandarin or Japanese. Are you ready to get started with your Korean journey? Take a look at the following guide and discover how to learn Korean today in the most effective way.
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All classes are taught by qualified, native speaker Korean trainers and can be arranged at your office or home for any day of the week (including weekends) in the morning, afternoon or evening.
1. Why Learn Korean Today
With so many languages out there, why should you learn Korean today? Well, being fluent in this Asian language will give you a lot more benefits than just enjoying great films or understanding K-pop songs. Let’s explore all the advantages of acquiring the Korean language below!
To Broaden Your Professional Horizons
South Korea has had meteoric economic growth in the last few decades (it’s even likely to be in the top 8 economies in the world by 2032, according to the UK’s Center for Economics & Business Research. With this in mind, learning Korean today can give your CV the competitive edge it needs to start advancing in the international job market. And being fluent in Korean is an exceptional ability not only useful for working in Korea. Instead, you may look for a new job at a Korean subsidiary in the UK, such as LG or Hyundai, and advance in your career using your newly acquired skills without leaving your home country.
In case you need more reasons to learn Korean for business, take a look at our article about the perks of entering the South Korean growing market and take the leap today!
Because You Feel Like It
If you feel like learning Korean just for the fun of it, it’s also a great choice! The Korean writing system, while strikingly different from ours, is logical and easy to grasp once you understand its main rules. As you may know already, the Korean alphabet did not appear or evolve but it was purposefully created at the times of King Sejong the Great, back in the 15th century.
Before that, Korean people used Chinese characters to represent their language, but only a few of them actually knew how to read and write. Thus, the King, who wanted his subjects to participate more in matters of state, pushed for the creating of the Hangul, the Korean writing system, which consists of only 24 letters. Take the leap and start writing Korean today! Soon, you’ll realise it’s much easier than it seemed.
To Communicate With Millions of People in the World
There are more than 75 million speakers of Korean worldwide. While most of them obviously live in North and South Korea, many others are scattered in communities around the world. For instance, the 2011 UK census recorded more than 16,000 native Korean speakers living in England. As a result, your chances of making new international friends will skyrocket if you are fluent in Korean, no matter where you are located!
To Better Understand Their Culture
The Korean culture is fascinating and strikingly different from the British one. The conjugation of verbs using honorifics, for instance, can be difficult to grasp and master if you don’t understand how their social system works. In Korea, people use formal language to speak to their elders or bosses while the informal forms are reserved for family and friends.
Additionally, learning Korean will also give you access to their arts and cuisine. If you are a K-pop fan, you’ll be able to understand (and sing along to!) Black Pink’s catchy lyrics and enjoy their music on a whole new level. Literature lovers, instead, will get to read the works of great authors like Hang Kan or Park Wan-suh in their original form, losing nothing in translation!
2. The Korean Language and its Dialects
As it happens with most languages, the Korean one is not homogeneous. There are many versions and dialects of the language depending on geography and location. Inside South Korea, we can find 6 different varieties, with the Seoul one being the standard one spoken in TV series, films, radio programmes and so on. Most people in Korea understand this dialect so it’s recommended for beginners who want to learn Korean for general communication.
used in Seoul
in the Northeastern area
in the North
in the Gyeongsang region
in the Southwest
in the Jeju Island
3. How to Learn Korean?
Now that you have decided to take the leap and start learning Korean now, you may be asking yourself where to start. Well, the first decision to make is whether you would like to study alone using printed and online resources or if you want to hire a language professional to accompany you in your language journey. Both options have their advantages and drawbacks and depend on your objectives, needs and learning style. Let’s analyse these options below!
Why Learn Korean With a Teacher
Learning a language (especially one as different from English as Korean) can be a daunting experience. If you are only a beginner and don’t even know where to start, the wiser option would be to hire a professional tutor to guide you every step of the way. But what other benefits does a Korean teacher bring about?
You’ll always feel motivated to keep on learning. Motivation plays a major role in language learning and your tutor will be there to help, highlighting your achievements and strengths and helping you overcome difficulties.
You’ll know exactly what you need to learn. Learners may feel lost, may not know what to study first or how to find materials suitable for their level. This will not happen with an experienced teacher, who has studied for years to help Korean students to choose topics and materials useful and relevant for their needs and requirements.
You won’t leave the lesson full of questions. Even if you are able to find well-designed lessons and appropriate materials, there’s no one to ask in case you have questions. However, those who decide to start a course with a native tutor will not have this problem. Our teachers, for example, have studied for years and are well-prepared to explain even the most complex topics in an engaging way.
You’ll put your speaking skills into play from the very beginning. Regardless of your individual needs when studying Korean, learning a language is always a means for communication, and speaking plays a crucial part in being able to communicate fluently with native and non-native Korean speakers. The best way to develop your speaking skills is by practising a lot but how are you going to do this if you don’t have anyone to interact with? Luckily, you can start a course with a tutor who will help you take your speaking ability to the next level.
Individual or Group Lessons: What’s Better?
Now that you have decided to study Korean with a teacher comes another difficult decision: whether to learn alone with your tutor or join a group of other enthusiastic individuals. Let us help you choose the most appropriate option!
Individual vs Group Korean Lessons
Both of these choices offer their own advantages and drawbacks. For instance, while individual instruction is great to advance quickly and with a personalised syllabus, group lessons are amazing to have some fun while having true interaction in your target language. The following table summarises the benefits of these options:
|Individual Classes||Group Classes|
|You set the schedule||Yes||No|
|Learn from your peers||No||Yes|
No matter what type of lesson you choose, we can help! We have open group lessons, closed group sessions and individual classes, either face-to-face or online. Contact us today and a member of our team will find the perfect teacher for your learning style and preferences so you can start learning Korean right away!Study Korean With Our Native Tutors
4. Tips to Learn Korean Vocabulary
Learning vocabulary in a new language can be challenging, as most websites or apps present you with just lists of words or sentences for you to memorise. But is there a more meaningful way to acquire new words and phrases in Korean? Sure! Here are some tips to learn Korean vocabulary without getting terribly bored in the process.
1. Use Flashcards
Knowing a word in a given language does not only entail knowing its meaning. Instead, you need to understand how it’s written, how it’s pronounced and in what contexts it is used (formal or informal, for example). While this may seem like a lot of information to remember, the process can be easier if you use techniques and resources like flashcards. And the best part is that you don’t have to be great at drawing to make fantastic flashcards. Today, you can use apps like Anki or Quizlet to prepare these materials in the shortest time. For example, Anki lets you include a picture of the vocabulary item and its meaning as well as whole sentences and even audio recordings so you never forget how to pronounce a word again.
2. Use Dictionaries
Traditional resources like dictionaries always come in handy when trying to learn Korean vocabulary. If you are reading something and encounter a word you don’t know, why not stop for a second and look up the word using a dictionary? If you are not fond of paper ones, there are many electronic dictionaries you can use, even for free. Some examples include Naver, a traditional Korean-English dictionary, or Forvo, a dictionary with audio recordings and phonetic script so you never forget how to pronounce the word you need.
3. Try to Learn Vocabulary in Context
As we stated before, learning words in isolation is not very useful. You may know that 사과 means “apple”, but for this to be meaningful, you should also learn verbs that collocate with apple (such as eat, peel, buy) or quantifiers (some, any, many, a lot), for example. Otherwise, you won’t be able to truly express yourself using the vocabulary you already know.
That is why the best way to learn vocabulary is by using real-life materials that will give you an interesting (and authentic) context for new words and phrases. Some of these materials include TV shows, films, novels, poems, the news, magazines, recipes and even restaurant menus!
And if you need more ideas to learn vocabulary meaningfully, you can access our article on how to expand your Korean vocabulary in 3 easy steps.
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5. How to Read in Korean
The first step to take when starting your Korean journey is to learn the alphabet. Called Hangul, the system has 24 letters (14 consonants and 10 vowels). Of course, none of them is known to English speakers but the good news is that they are not so difficult to learn. Most Korean symbols have 2-3 strokes, different from Mandarin ones, which usually have over 7-8.
The Korean characters are called jamo and represent a syllable, not a letter. They usually represent the position of your mouth when you produce them, which is helpful when trying to learn Korean pronunciation. Another advantage for English speakers is that Koreans use Western punctuation such as periods and commas. Here are some useful websites where you can practise and learn the Korean alphabet lightning fast!
The next step after learning the Hangul is to practise reading. In Korean, you read from left to right and from top to bottom. How to Study Korean has some great free lessons you can use to start getting familiar with Korean written discourse on your own.
Another great idea is to start reading simple words and phrases aloud with the help of your teacher so you get feedback in a highly controlled and safe environment. Furthermore, you can take a look at two of our articles and take your reading skills to a whole new level: how to read in Korean using comic strips and how to improve your reading and writing skills in Korean: 4 great tips And this article about the Korean phrases every learner should know will also prove useful!
6. Best Apps to Learn Korean
Interested in learning Korean but coursebooks and traditional lessons won’t cut it for you? Don’t worry, today the internet is full of materials, apps and websites that will surely suit your needs and learning style. Here is a list of the best apps and sites to learn Korean for free, without a fixed schedule.
Teuida is an amazing resource if you are looking to polish your speaking skills. You’ll watch videos in Korean that depict daily situations and you’ll have the opportunity to record yourself modelling the dialogues and receive feedback from other students. Another similar app is HelloTalk, where you can connect with learners from different parts of the world and set up virtual or face-to-face meetings to chat and get to know each other.
Duolingo, Memrise and Drops are great options for those who prefer short, bite-sized lessons. They mostly focus on learning vocabulary and grammar though you can also find some listening practice in the premium versions.
The King Sejong Institute has an open video course with the aim of spreading the Korean culture all over the world. The materials have English subtitles, so the course is suitable for learners of different levels and backgrounds.
Dom & Hyo is a brilliant site designed for beginner learners who want to dive deep into the Korean language by using fun comics as input.
7. Learn Korean with K-pop
K-pop has become increasingly popular in the last few years and not only in Korea! If you’ve also been captured by their catchy tunes and easy-to-learn lyrics, capitalise on that musical enthusiasm and use it to take your Korean skills to the next level! In addition to having real fun, using K-pop to learn Korean will give you insight into this fascinating culture while you polish your pronunciation and vocabulary.
Most K-pop songs have a lot of repetition, which is a great advantage for beginners who are just starting to get familiar with the Korean language. As these songs constantly return to the chorus, they quickly get stuck in your head and are easy to memorise. Plus, the words and phrases used are simple and common, with lots of informal speech that is hard to encounter in a traditional coursebook. If you’d like to know more about why K-pop songs are great resources to acquire the language, you can have a look at our blog post!
Listening to K-pop songs will also improve your knowledge of the fascinating Korean culture. By watching these artists perform, for example, you’ll witness traditional Korean performances like Samgomu (drum dance) or the beautiful Fan Dance. You’ll also get to know more about their beauty standards and how important it is for most young people to look skinny and have a clear complexion.
Moreover, the songs do not only talk about important cultural aspects but are cultural references in themselves. You will probably hear people talking about iconic artists such as PSY, Black Pink or BTS, mentioning their songs or lyrics.
If you are not very familiar with K-pop bands today, here is a list of K-pop artists you cannot miss!
All in all, Korean is a fascinating language to learn. We are not going to lie: it can be hard to advance at the beginning, but with a little persistence, patience and the help of an expert tutor, soon you’ll find yourself communicating in Korean with anyone you need!
Contact us today and get started with a personalised syllabus that adapts to all your needs and requirements. Meanwhile, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check out our blog, where we post interesting articles bi-weekly. And if you want to know more about your current language ability, you can always take our FREE Korean level test and check how much you already know about the language!
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