Written by:
Nov 8, 2023

How to Study Korean for Beginners: Easy Guide with 11 Tips

With its rich linguistic heritage and unique script “Hangul”, the Korean language is your gateway to a culture that blends tradition with modernity. Boasting over 78 million speakers worldwide, studying Korean allows you to dive deep into the world of K-pop, K-dramas, and uncover the secrets of honorifics that shape social interactions in Korea.

If you’re considering learning Korean, you're embarking on a journey filled with cultural richness, linguistic uniqueness, and endless opportunities. Our guide will help you find the easiest approach on how to learn Korean for beginners, whether it’s learning greetings, finding ways to memorize Hangul characters or navigating through the wonders of Konglish words.

We’ll also introduce you to the wealth of resources Language Drops can offer to make your Korean language learning experience easy, fun, and effective. So say 안녕 (Hello!) to your Korean adventure, and let's get started!

Table of contents

  1. How to Study Korean: Start Planning Your Korean Learning Path
  2. How to Learn the Korean Alphabet
  3. Practice Korean Pronunciation
  4. Learn Basic Korean Greetings
  5. Learn Useful Korean Expressions
  6. Get Familiar with Korean Grammar
  7. Watch Korean Dramas
  8. Listen to Korean Music
  9. Boost Your Vocabulary with Konglish
  10. Join Korean Language Communities
  11. Try Language Drops to Study Korean as a Beginner
  12. FAQ Questions
  1. How can I learn Korean by myself?
  2. Can I learn Korean in 1 month?
  3. Is it easy to learn Korean for beginners?

1. How to Study Korean: Start Planning Your Korean Learning Path

Setting clear language learning goals is your first step in your language learning journey. Understand why you want to study Korean, whether it's for the love of K-pop, personal interest, or business needs. Your "why" will be your motivation. And motivation is key on this journey.

Create a consistent schedule for studying, whether daily or regularly. Keep it realistic, ensuring it's productive but not stressful. Take notes and review them to support memorization.

Moreover, break your goals into achievable milestones, such as mastering the alphabet, expanding vocabulary, or chatting with native speakers. Celebrate these achievements to stay motivated and on track. Clear goals provide direction and keep you engaged in your language learning journey. With our guide, you will see some great examples of milestones that could be part of your learning plan.

2. How to Learn the Korean Alphabet

TDive into the exciting world of Hangul, the Korean alphabet! First, get to know the story behind it: King Sejong the Great wanted a script accessible to everyone, so he created Hangul in the 15th century. It soon became a favorite, even earning its amendment.

To learn Hangul, start by getting friendly with the characters and their sounds. Download a simple Hangul chart and practice writing vowels first, then move on to consonants. Write them while saying the sounds out loud. This will help you create a cool audiovisual link. Once you’ve got familiar with standalone sounds,  try to play around with vowel and consonant combos!

Then, the fun part: practice writing simple words and never stop. You'll get the hang of it!

learn Korean alphabet

Next, let's talk about reading. It's all about practice, not perfection. As a beginner, try reading words on real Korean posters, in magazines or social media ads. If you're a Hangul pro, sing your favorite karaoke songs with Korean lyrics - you'll be reading like a champ in no time! 

Remember, Hangul is your gateway to understanding Korean culture and language, so stick with it and embrace the fun!

3. Practice Korean Pronunciation

Start with simpler characters like ㄱ, ㅋ, ㄲ. ㄱ, as they sound like a blend of 'g' and 'k,' but its pronunciation varies based on its position in a word. ㅋ (키읔) is similar to 'k,' but with a stronger aspiration, like a super strong 'k.' There are sounds like ㄲ that are unique to Korean and don't exist in English, so take extra time to practice them carefully.

After you understood the concept of basic sounds, start practicing double consonants (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ). To pronounce them correctly, give them extra emphasis by tensing up your tongue. For example, with ㅃ, attempt to pronounce ㅂ with more strength, somehow similar to the English ‘p’, but with a stiffer tongue. You’ll find the perfect sound  somewhere between the sound 'p' and 'bb'.

Don't worry about having a flawless native accent at this stage. Focus on recognizing and accurately articulating the phonetics of Korean. When you're listening to a Korean speaker, try to distinguish the familiar sounds.

For practical immersion, listen to Korean audio regularly. Explore Korean music, radio shows, podcasts. The goal here is to train your ears and mouth to the language. Don't stress if you don't understand everything right away; comprehension will improve over time.

learning Korean pronunciation

4. Learn Basic Korean Greetings

When your primary aim is to talk to people in Korean, building your vocabulary becomes a crucial part of your language-learning adventure. Just like any new language, mastering Korean vocabulary demands daily dedication.

We suggest you begin with fundamental greetings like "Hi" "How are you?" and "My name is." Even as a complete beginner, implementing these elementary phrases can leave a positive impression when interacting with native speakers. Here's a useful list to kickstart your vocabulary journey:

  • 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) — Hello (for most situations)
  • 만나서 반가워요 (mannaseo bangawoyo) — Nice to meet you!
  • 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida) — Thank you!
  • 어떻게 지냈어요? (eotteohge jinaesseoyo?) — How are you?
  • 안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghigeseyo) — Goodbye (when you're leaving and your conversation partner is staying)
  • 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghigaseyo) — Goodbye (when your conversation partner is leaving)
learning Korean greetings

Remember that in Korean culture, greetings are a sign of respect. Using them is especially important when addressing older individuals. Also, when you're new to a place, like a workplace or someone’s apartment, greetings are expected and help you make a positive first impression.

As you continue learning, practice these greetings daily. Don't worry about getting them perfect right away; it's the effort that counts. And have fun! The more you use these phrases, the more comfortable and confident you'll become in your Korean language journey. Don’t forget to check out our post on how to say hi in Korean in 11 ways!

5. Learn Useful Korean Expressions

Incorporate Korean phrases into your daily life. Practice with a Korean-speaking friend if you have one, or even have conversations with yourself. Recording yourself while speaking will boost your confidence and improve your real-life usage of these phrases. Keep the fun in your learning journey!

Here are some detailed tips to master these phrases:

  1. Break it Down: Dissect each phrase into its individual words. Understand their meanings and functions. This builds a strong foundation.

  1. Take it Slow: Start with a manageable number of phrases, ensuring you're confident with them before moving on to more. Don’t rush!

  1. Everyday Integration: Swap your usual phrases with their Korean counterparts in your daily life. Practice with your own imaginary conversations or with a language partner if available.

  1. Record Yourself: Speaking and listening to your own recordings helps build confidence and pronunciation. It's a great way to track your progress.

To get you hyped about the upcoming challenges, here are a few everyday Korean expressions you can learn by yourself that can help you navigate through a casual Korean conversation.

  • 건배! (geonbae) — Cheers!
  • 천천히 말해요 (cheoncheonhi malhaeyo) — Speak slowly!
  • 도와주세요! (dowajuseyo!) — Help!
  • 얼마예요? (eolmayeyo?) — How much is it?
  •  지금 몇시예요?(jigeum myeossiyeyo?) — What time is it?

If you are ready to learn more Korean phrases by yourself, check out our post on how to say goodbye in Korean in 16 ways. Curious to know more? Check out our curated beginner Korean topics in the Drops language learning app

6. Get Familiar with Korean Grammar

Korean grammar, like grammar in any language, encompasses a range of rules and topics. As a beginner, you don't need to dive into every advanced concept right away. What you should focus on is understanding the grammar in practical use.

While Korean grammar differs from English, it operates on structured rules and sentence arrangements that make sense. In fact, Korean grammar is quite straightforward, which adds to its appeal. The primary distinction you'll notice is the sentence structure.

You're likely familiar with the English structure:


For example, "I (subject) study (verb) Korean (object)." This Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) structure is common in many languages. It places the action before the object, allowing you to understand what's happening before identifying what it's happening to.

Now, let's explore how Korean sentences are structured. Basic Korean grammar follows a different pattern:


This Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) structure may initially seem unfamiliar, especially to native speakers of SVO languages. However, as you progress in your Korean learning journey, you'll discover why this grammar structure makes sense when forming Korean sentences.

Remember not to  worry about perfection at this stage; it's okay to make mistakes. As you progress, your grammar skills will naturally improve, leading you to more advanced language patterns.

7. Watch Korean Dramas

Korean media is a fantastic tool to enhance your language skills in an enjoyable way. Movies, TV shows, and music videos provide a platform to refine your pronunciation and expand your vocabulary naturally.

Korean dramas, in particular, offer an entertaining gateway to language learning and understanding Korean culture, although they can be a tad dramatic at times. Visual cues like expressions and gestures offer valuable context. Learning Korean online has never been easier!

studying Korean with friends

Here's your approach:

  1. Choose a drama that piques your interest, exploring options on social media and your preferred streaming platforms.

  1. Strategically use subtitles. Begin by watching without them to test your comprehension. Then, switch to Hangul, Korean alphabet subtitles, and finally, English subtitles.

  1. Keep a notebook handy to jot down useful expressions, vocabulary, and cultural insights. Regularly review your notes to reinforce your learning.

Now, let's see some great K-drama choices to kick off your Korean learning journey.

  1. "Extraordinary Attorney Woo" - A lighthearted story about Join Woo Young-woo, a rookie lawyer with Asperger's, in Seoul as he navigates unique legal cases. This series thoughtfully addresses autism while delivering a heartwarming story.

  1. "Squid Game" - Dive into a thrilling and globally popular show on Netflix. Watch as 400 people facing financial struggles are drawn into life-and-death games, where alliances shift and true natures emerge.

  1. "It's Okay Not to be Okay" - Immerse yourself into this dramatic romantic comedy that delves into mental health and the impact of childhood traumas on adulthood, featuring Seo Yea-ji and Kim Soo-Hyun.

  1. "Boys Over Flowers" - This early 2000s rom-com may contain some dated elements, but it offers a sweet and lighthearted story. Follow Geum Jan-di's journey as she stands up to the elite F4 boys at her school, leading to unexpected twists in her relationship with Jun-pyo.

These dramas offer language variety, from honorifics to informal speech with a great insight into the Korean culture and mindset. Enjoy your watchlist!

8. Listen to Korean Music

If your fascination with the Korean language is ignited by the catchy rhythms and lyrics of K-pop and other Korean music genres, you're in good company. Many language enthusiasts draw inspiration from the melodies and words of Korean songs.

Learning through music provides a delightful and effective way to build your vocabulary. It immerses you in informal language and keeps you attuned to the latest trends in Korean pop culture. Plus, it gives you a fantastic conversation starter with your Korean conversation partner, allowing you to share your favorite songs and artists.

For beginners, the journey begins with listening and exploring. Don't fret if you don't understand every word; the key is finding music and artists that resonate with you. As you advance, you can gradually incorporate lyrics in Hangul and their English translations into your learning routine.

If you find yourself at an intermediate or advanced level, consider engaging in activities like fill-in-the-gap exercises or predicting lyrics. These activities bolster your vocabulary, grammar skills, and overall language proficiency.

So, as you groove to the rhythm of Korean music, remember that you're also grooving your way to a deeper understanding of the language. Enjoy the musical journey of language learning!

learning Korean through music

9. Boost Your Vocabulary with Konglish

Now let's discuss the fascinating world of Konglish and its role in your Korean language journey!

As you embark on your Korean language adventure, you'll encounter words that feel surprisingly familiar. These linguistic bridges, often known as "loan words," find their way into Korean from various languages, including English. But we prefer to call them "Konglish" – a fun blend of Korean and English.

Supplement your Korean vocabulary journey with these Konglish words, as they serve as a welcoming support to the language because they already share similarities with words you know.

Here are a few illustrative examples:

  • 아파트 (apateu) – which translates to "apartment."
  • 슈퍼 (syupeo) – akin to "supermarket."

Consider 비디오 (bidio) – doesn't it sound remarkably similar to "video"? These familiar connections might just surprise you.

Korean learning apps such as Language Drops offer extensive lists of Konglish words with accompanying audio, making your study sessions engaging and effective. When you start with these words, you not only build your vocabulary but also receive valuable speaking and pronunciation practice. So, give it a try, read them aloud, and see how language connections can make your learning journey both fun and rewarding.

10. Join Korean Language Communities

If you want to take a step further and move away from learning Korean online only, you can also enhance your language skills through real-life interactions, whether you're exploring Korea or your local neighborhood!

Traveling to Korea offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the language. In the country itself, you'll find that you're naturally compelled to communicate in Korean.

But, we understand that travel isn't always the easiest option. So, even if you can't hop on the next flight to Seoul, you can seek out Korean-language experiences right in your neighborhood.

Look for Korean restaurants, supermarkets, shopping districts, and community centers in your area. These places offer you unique opportunities to engage with the language. You can read labels in Korean, chat with Korean shop owners, or even strike up conversations with fellow language enthusiasts.

learn to speak Korean

Don't overlook the potential for local Korean community centers to host special events and festivals. These gatherings can provide a vibrant and authentic cultural experience. Dive in, mingle with the crowd, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of sights and sounds.

Engaging with Korean-speaking friends can boost your confidence and comfort level. Learning from your successes and mistakes in a familiar environment is invaluable.

Remember, whether you're strolling through the streets of Seoul or chatting with new friends in your hometown, these immersive experiences are windows to a deeper understanding of the Korean language and culture. Keep learning, growing, and opening up to new opportunities!

11. Try Language Drops to Study Korean as a Beginner

If you're enthusiastic about taking your first steps into the world of learning Korean and seek an easy and fun approach, give Drops a try. At Drops, we understand that language learning should be an exciting and fun experience, which is why we've transformed it into a journey filled with gamified challenges and review tools that help you maintain your learning momentum.

We know that mastering a language involves not only reading and writing foreign scripts, like the Korean alphabet, but also good pronunciation. That's why Drops places a strong emphasis on accurate pronunciation, offering native speaker audio recordings to guide you. By immersing yourself in these authentic voice tracks, you can easily imitate speakers and refine your pronunciation with the help of our resident native speaker voice artist.

At Drops, we believe that language and culture are intertwined, so we take you beyond simple vocabulary. Explore Korean traditions and cultural delights through our engaging topics like "Living in Korea," "K-drama Phrases," and "Honorifics," providing a comprehensive learning experience that accelerates your journey to mastering Korean. Discover the unique world of Korean language and culture with Drops now!

Ready to embark on a fun and effective language learning adventure? Try Drops today!

learning basic Korean vocabulary with Drops

FAQ Questions

1. How can I learn Korean by myself?

Learning Korean on your own can be a rewarding and empowering experience. Here are some steps to help you navigate this exciting journey:

1. Set Clear Goals: Define your reasons for learning Korean. Whether it's for travel, work, or personal growth, having clear objectives will keep you motivated.

2. Begin with the Basics: Start with the Korean alphabet, Hangul. It's surprisingly simple and lays the foundation for understanding the language.

3. Consistent Practice: Dedicate time daily to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Regular practice is key to progress.

4. Immerse Yourself: Engage with Korean media like movies, music, and TV shows. This helps with natural pronunciation and vocabulary acquisition.

5. Stay Consistently Curious: Embrace the culture, cuisine, and history of Korea. This will not only enrich your language skills but also deepen your connection to the language.

Remember, your journey to learn Korean is a voyage of self-discovery. Stay motivated, keep exploring, and enjoy the process. Your dedication will take you far in your quest to master this fascinating language.

2. Can I learn Korean in 1 month?

While it's wonderful to be enthusiastic about learning a new language, the idea of mastering Korean in just one month can be a bit ambitious. Korean, just like any other language, presents its own set of complexities that require time and dedication.

In one month, it's reasonable to achieve some foundational knowledge, grasp basic conversational phrases, and familiarize yourself with the Korean alphabet, Hangul. However, fluency or a deep understanding of the language may take much longer, depending on your dedication, prior language learning experience and learning methods.

The key to successful language learning is consistency and practice. So, while one month can certainly kickstart your Korean learning journey, think of it as a starting point rather than a destination. Be patient, set realistic goals, and enjoy the process. With time and commitment, you'll find your proficiency growing steadily. Your journey to learn Korean is a marathon, not a sprint, and the rewards along the way are worth the effort.

3. Is it easy to learn Korean for beginners?

Learning Korean as a beginner can be both exciting and challenging, but is it easy? The answer, like with any language, is a blend of both.

Korean has some unique features that can be surprisingly accessible. For instance, Hangul is straightforward to learn, and it's designed to be phonetic. This means you can start reading and writing in Korean quite quickly.

However, like any language, there are aspects that can pose challenges. Korean grammar, for example, follows different rules than English, which might require some adjustment. Plus, there's a level of formality and honorifics in Korean that can be intricate.

But here's the good news: with dedication, practice, and the right resources, you can certainly learn Korean as a beginner. Take it step by step, set clear goals, and don't be discouraged by initial challenges. As you progress, you'll discover the beauty of the language and culture, making the journey both rewarding and enriching. Remember, while it may not be the easiest path, it's a fascinating one, and your determination will be your greatest asset.

Zita Palik is a Hungary based Language Content Manager and an 80's music maniac.

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