Best tips for Korean language beginners 

 August 19, 2021

By  Smriti

How to speak Korean like a native ? The question that has always boggled the minds of Korean language enthusiasts in the community for several years.

But like how it's said Rome was not built in a day. Learning a language takes time more or less depending on the person's environment.

To be able to speak in a language simply means to be able to get the message across. In order to make the message more comprehensible we need to go through a continuous process of  learning and unlearning, discovering new identity, feeling angry and frustrated, feeling stuck, pride, you might find yourself more forgiving, accepting and fluid. All these emotions are a part of learning but at the end of the day all it counts is effort. 

Let's say for example : Being able to say 'Cat' while pointing out will get the message across. "This is a cat." makes it comprehensible. 

What we need to focus on directing our effort is on understanding how to say the missing part "This is a….." and make it more understandable to the other person.

Define your reason for achieving fluency : "I'll be satisfied if I can hold a basic conversation with any Korean person I meet." , " I need a TOPIK II score for my resume." so on and so forth. What should be your reason for learning the Korean language? The reason defined should be your ultimate goal and aim.

Let's keep our bar a little LOWER in bold, say you want to reach profession level fluency enough for being able to attempt for a decent level of the TOPIK test, might want to use it apart from the professional workplace or sometimes in front of your friends to impress their dates.

Whatever may be the reason, trying your luck with any language without liking it will be nothing less than a burden. Let me break the news to you if not already, learning language is hard. Staying motivated for years is even harder.

It sure needs lots of focus, scrutinizing tons and tons of PDF files, paperbacks, YouTube channels and blogs to choose THE right material for yourself.

I'm here to make your work a little easier and would like to focus on 5 most common yet less spoken ways of practicing Korean learning in the initial stage.

As you might already know, learning a language consists of four key elements : Listening, writing, speaking and reading. 

Memorize the Korean writing script

No ifs no buts. Unlike many west Germanic proto origin European languages have pronunciations in common. Not in the case of Korean as it has its own script and pronunciation having similarities with Sino-Tibetan languages.

  • Learn the Korean alphabet
  • Practice and be comfortable with all 4 elements of : understanding, reading, writing and properly pronouncing Korean alphabets.

Focus on listening

As crazy as it may sound but that's not the case. Just by focusing on the listening you will be more accustomed to the pronunciation. Which will further allow you to easily pronounce the words and follow along. 

Listening is a great practice to get accustomed with the language itself. 

  • Focus on the intonation.
  • Focus on the unusual breaks and usual tone of speaking. 

For listening you can try audio visual podcasts with mixed English and Korean language at first. 

  • English podcasts for Korean language beginners
  • Slow Korean language listening videos on YouTube.

Try to immerse yourself completely on the audiovisual content

A common mistake that language learners do in the beginners stage is that they focus on one element at a time. Language isn't supposed to be learnt in that way since all the elements is interlinked with each other. When you listen something in most cases you also learn how to speak it. When you read something you'll also know how to write it correctly more or less gradually get used to correcting your spellings.

For improving listening one should focus more on the audiovisual content as it makes the concept more comprehensible. What I’m talking about is comprehensible input. Where you understand the concept behind the story with the help of not just audio but the body language and facial expressions. 

  • Movies or dramas for children.

I would suggest watching nursery rhymes in order to learn the language from the basics. You can come across the basic vocabulary while watching kid based movies or dramas. 

  • Audio-visual story telling videos for beginners

Youtube and Netflix in Korean

You might think this is too early for you to watch content completely in Korean but hear me out. What I mean by this is watching YouTube and Netflix in Korean subtitles along with English subtitles in order for you to understand it more easily. 

Best way to use YouTube is to find content with both the subtitles in your native and target language.

Remember the content should be not heavy with  intermediate level language usage. In fact pickup movies or dramas based on slice of life or Rom-Com in your target language which are known to be less boring and use more repetitive and common phrases. 

The focus is not on what you are watching but your focus should be more towards getting used to the Targeted language as much as possible. 

Or you can download YouTube and Netflix chrome extensions available for free.

Link to download is HERE.

Follow a curriculum

You must have come across many YouTube videos stating several facts for being able to reach your goal of decent fluency in a specific time period. 

Immersion is said to be the best method for language learning in which you completely immerse yourself with the target language without trying to make the minimum effort of understanding it in the first place. 

The method of immersion has proven to be effective for those in the intermediate learning on advanced learning phase but has proven to not be quite effective for the beginners since the brain needs to get accustomed to understanding how to scrutinise the load of information. 

Without having the capability of understanding the basic grammar and vocabulary necessary for being able to understand the meaning of the sentence.

The tactic of immersion is not effective for people initially in the beginners stage but can be a tool to achieve a higher level of fluency later. 

  • Don't surround yourself with too many sources of information.
  • Focus on understanding sentences rather than just vocabulary. 
  • Revise to not forget.

Just by being able to follow through the curriculum and practice the mentioned grammar and vocabulary you will be able to achieve a decent level of understanding in any language at first and later you can immerse yourself in the target language with other forms of learning. 

Did you find the article useful ? Do you have any suggestions or would like to add more ? Please write to us in the comment section below.


To understand TOPIK Test structure, application process, Levels and Passing scores etc. check these pages:

  1. TOPIK – The Complete Guide & 2. TOPIK Levels and Passing Marks. You can also Practice Online with TOPIK GUIDE Mock Tests.

If you are going to take the TOPIK Test for the first time, or if you want to give your score a boost so that you can pass a higher level, we would strongly advise you to get the Complete Guide to TOPIK – Self-Study Package. It is a digital study package that has everything you need to get a great score in the TOPIK test – all the past TOPIK papers with answer sheets, grammar and vocabulary study material, video tutorials explaining the test structure, strategies to solve them and much more. You can check out more details about this study package HERE.

Learning Korean can be tricky, especially when the goal of your learning is conversation. If you’ve ever attempted to speak Korean but were unable to, then hopefully you’ll find this post helpful.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions. Comment down below.

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