처음부터 지금까지— Learning Korean From Scratch

I’ve been self-studying Korean for 5 years, here’s what I’ve learnt.

Photo by Cait Ellis on Unsplash

Learning Resources

There are 2 main learning resources I recommend for self-studying Korean, Talk To Me In Korean, and HowToStudyKorean. Both are great resources for learning, and over the years I have heavily relied on both to get a full understanding of many grammatical principles. Here’s a rundown of the two:

Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK)

Pros

  • Completely free online courses (They also have a paid membership with extra content, and lots of physical textbooks you can buy— I never bothered because the shipping is pretty pricey depending on where you live).
  • All of the content covered in their text books is available for free on their website (but they do have a lot of other books that aren’t).
  • Very beginner friendly (especially if you are new to learning languages in general).
  • Lots of audio material, YouTube videos, podcasts & all the lessons have recordings.
  • Easy to track progress with the online courses.
  • Very concise lesson notes.
  • Some of the explanations of grammatical concepts or applications are very simplified for ease of learning (a great thing if you’re a beginner though!).

HowToStudyKorean

Pros

  • LOADS of vocabulary (every lesson has a list of new words to learn).
  • Very detailed explanations of all concepts covered.
  • Tons of lessons (all free) — including some on hanja, and extra (paid) content including pdf workbooks and short stories.
  • Very verbose and detailed explanations, which can be overwhelming for beginners.

Learning Apps I Recommend

  • Memrise is perfect for vocabulary.
  • Papago for translating to & from Korean (trust me it’s better than Google Translate).

How To Get Started

The first step is always the hardest, but my best advice would be to start small. Without a doubt before you learn anything else, learn 한글 (Hangul), the writing system for the Korean language. Make sure you learn how to recognise each individual letter, and letter combinations, how to pronounce them and the syllabic structure of how words are written. This is the most important step. After this, I recommend choosing either TTMIK or How To Study Korean and getting started with their first lesson.

Supporting Your Learning

While you’re learning a new language, it’s important to supplement your learning with lots of exposure to your target language. Listening to native speakers and getting lots of experience listening and trying to comprehend conversations helps with learning and retention.

Test Yourself

TOPIK is the “Test of Proficiency in Korean”, a written test (comprised of listening, reading and writing tests) designed to measure the ability of non-native speakers for expression and comprehension in the Korean language.

General Advice

  • Learning vocabulary is just as important as learning grammar!
  • It’s ok to be self-conscious of your pronunciation, just keep practicing (the same goes for handwriting — It will come with practice and time).
  • There is a LOT of grammar to learn, but as you progress, you become used to it and I promise it won’t be impossible to remember it all.
  • People will always question why you’re learning any language, but you have your own motivations and that’s absolutely fine! You got this and I’m rooting for you!
  • Keep at it! I took a lot of breaks from learning over the years that slowed my progress but all these years later I’m still learning and still loving it.

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Software Engineer & Comp. Sci. graduate, writing about professional development, working in tech, and all things coding. https://www.elletownsend.co.uk

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Elle Townsend

Software Engineer & Comp. Sci. graduate, writing about professional development, working in tech, and all things coding. https://www.elletownsend.co.uk