Have you ever wanted to learn Korean but can’t afford to sign up for language courses? Or perhaps you live in a city where there are no nearby Korean language institutes?
Over the years, a lot of Filipino people have expressed their interest in learning the Korean language for various reasons. While most of them want to learn the language because they are fans of K-Drama or K-Pop, there are also some who simply want to learn the language to find better work opportunities in Korea. But because most of them can’t afford to enroll in language classes, they are forced to set aside their dreams of being able to speak Korean.
But what if I tell you that there are ways to learn Korean language for free or for way lesser money than signing up for a full Korean language course? You even get to do it in the comfort of your home!
When I started learning Korean, there were very limited resources available online so I had to do a lot of research and trust my instincts every time I bought some books because I couldn’t find any reviews about them. Today, there is a wealth of information on websites and apps specifically created for Korean learning. Although most of them are aimed for beginners who don’t know any Korean at all, I think that they are great materials to start your Korean language learning journey with.
I know learning a language through self-study can be daunting, so here are a few tips and website recommendations to help you get started!
Look for resources that are legit and reliable.
Unfortunately, not all resources that you see online are trustworthy. They might contain errors or wrong information, which could get you into an embarrassing situation when you use them in a conversation. Lately, a lot of beginner Korean language learners have started to make their own lessons then post and share them on Facebook groups and pages. Although I believe their intentions are good because they want to share what they’ve learned, I wouldn’t recommend to learn Korean from them because they, just like you, still have so much to learn about the language.
Talk to Me in Korean is a Korean language education website created by a group of native Koreans. They offer both free and paid materials, but their grammar lessons are absolutely free. You can buy their grammar books if you want to or you can just stick to the free grammar lessons on their website. It’s totally up to you!
How to Study Korean is another free website for learning Korean created by a non-native speaker who has been learning the language since 2008 before moving to Korea for work in 2010. He meticulously organizes his notes and has them checked by his wife, who is a native Korean, before adding them to the website. You can use this website together with Talk to Me in Korean.
Learn the Korean alphabet. Do not use romanizations!
Korean has its own writing system called Hangeul (한글). Unfortunately, in order to learn how to properly pronounce the words, you have to learn their alphabet first because not all of their characters have a similar sound in English. Most Korean learning materials do not have romanizations too, so if you’re serious about learning it, you have to learn 한글. Also, Koreans won’t be able to understand you if you send them a romanized Korean message.
Don’t memorize! Learn words through context.
Contrary to popular belief, making extensive lists of words and memorizing them is not the best way to expand your vocabulary. Have you ever studied for an exam and still remember everything you’ve studied a month after? No, right? You’ll probably remember some bits of what you’ve studied but most of them have long been erased from your short term memory. That’s what will happen if you list down tons of words and memorize them. You’ll end up getting disappointed because you don’t remember most of them. Take note, you’re learning the language to be able to speak it and use it in daily life — you’re not studying the language just to pass an exam.
The best way to expand your vocabulary is to do a lot of reading. When you come across a word that you don’t know, look it up with a dictionary and search for sample sentences. Understand the meaning of the word instead of memorizing it. Simply knowing what a word means isn’t enough, though. You must also know how to use it so learn how to properly use it in a sentence, such as what particles, prepositions or other words are commonly used with it and how they are conjugated.
If you don’t own a Korean dictionary, Naver has a free online dictionary which you can use to look up words. What I like about Naver’s dictionary is that it doesn’t just give you the meaning of the words, but it also gives you several sample sentences to show you how and when the word is used.
Practice, practice, practice!
Learning a language is a long process. You have to put in a lot of effort if you want to become fluent — it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of hard work and patience. Practicing regularly and applying what you’ve learned in daily life will help you achieve that. Use what you’ve learned to write a diary. The content of your diary doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by writing down what you did today. Keep your sentences simple for now then little by little, start writing more complex sentences as you learn more grammar structures and words. It’s going to be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised with how much you’ve improved.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you’re practicing because it’s normal for a beginner to make mistakes. Instead, be afraid of committing the same mistake again and not learning from it. You can have your diary entries checked on HelloTalk! It’s a language exchange app where you can find native speakers to practice Korean with. They are ready to check your posts for any grammatical mistakes or suggest a more natural way to express what you want to say in Korean. In return, I’m sure they would appreciate you helping them out with their English.
Since HelloTalk is a language exchange community, don’t expect to find Koreans who will teach you and provide you step-by-step Korean lessons. You have to do your part and study on your own using the online resources I provided in this post then use HelloTalk to practice your Korean, not to get lessons from native speakers.
I believe that anyone can learn through self-study. All you need is self-discipline, consistency and creativity. Of course, you’re gonna need some pens and some sheets of paper, as well, for writing down notes. Haha!
Be creative and find ways to make online resources work for you in order to make learning fun and exciting. I hope that these few tips will help you to be able to speak Korean fluently someday. Good luck!
If you have questions about Korean language self-study, feel free to send me an email or get in touch with me through my social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I’d be glad to help you out and share more tips with you!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Websites mentioned in this post are some online resources that I have personally used to learn Korean and I highly recommend them. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by or may not reflect the opinions and views of FilipiNoonas as a whole.
FilipiNoonas’ co-founder and content creator. A blogger at meloncreme.net. Learning Korean through self-study. Lives on Netflix and VIU. Enjoys watching “Hello Counselor / 안녕하세요: 전국고민자랑”.