Are you using your smartphone to zap zombies with magical garden plants in your spare time?
Or to listen to your favorite American pop songs when you hit the gym?
You’re doing it wrong—or you could at least be doing it better.
Your smartphone could easily become your ultimate ally in learning the Korean language!
Yep, that’s right!
Playing Korean games, watching Korean movies, reading Korean blogs and listening to K-pop songs are all powerful ways to recreate immersion and teach yourself Korean. And you could be doing any of these things anytime, anywhere with your handy smartphone.
So, without further ado, here’s how to unlock the endless possibilities of your smartphone and learn Korean using apps.
The 10 Best Apps for Learning Korean Like a Boss
If you’re not already using the Naver Dictionary app, you’re in for a treat.
Naver, Korea’s most popular search engine, has developed what is arguably the most accurate and comprehensive Korean dictionary around. Available in 33 languages—which is very convenient if English isn’t your mother tongue—this free app will change the way you learn Korean vocabulary.
It features a wealth of examples and model sentences to show you how to best use words, popular Korean idioms and even grammatical structures in context. The app also embeds high-quality audio recordings in each entry to help you verify Korean pronunciation and in most cases the 한자 (hanja) of each word.
The app includes a translator tool to help you translate complex Korean sentences on the fly, wherever you are. We particularly love the ability to create your own wordbooks where you can add and save useful vocabulary lists. Be sure to browse the lists regularly to memorize recently viewed words more efficiently.
To top it off, downloading the app gives you 24/7 access to Naver’s very comprehensive encyclopedia, a large database of information-packed articles in Korean to help you discover important and fascinating aspects of Korean culture.
Price: Free demo account
If you’re looking for an entertaining app that lets you truly immerse yourself in Korean language and culture while having fun, download the FluentU app!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized Korean language learning lessons.
Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning.
It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
The best part? You can try FluentU for free!
If you weren’t already thrilled with Naver, this fantastic app will renew your appreciation for the Korean Internet giant.
Read Korean 만화 (comics) every day for free and for purchase using the Naver Webtoons app.
The comics are sorted by popularity, upload date and title so you can find what you love easily. Be sure to add the Korean keyboard to your mobile device if you choose to search content by title. This authentic Korean app doesn’t support searches in English and can be done in Korean only.
For avid comic readers, this app is heaven on Earth. Naver Webtoon includes a large collection of various types of comics, such as love stories, teens stories, action and history comics.
Intuitive and easy to use, the app includes all the features you need to have a pleasant reading experience. Browse your history to continue reading a volume without searching for it again on the main page, read webtoons offline using the “48-hour temporary save” feature and save interesting content in your favorites.
What’s more, the app sends you notifications to alert you of new release of your favorite series. 아싸! (oh yeah!)
Price: Free, in-app purchases
Who said you couldn’t have fun while learning Korean? Here’s yet another app that makes study time more thrilling. This exciting Korean word game turns learners into boxing stars.
The game starts off by displaying key Korean sentences. Each sentence is broken down into characters in Hangul. Your job is to identify the correct sound in English and punch the right syllable from a list of options. The quicker you punch the characters, the more points you score! All in all, this will get you to improve your Korean reading skills, while also teaching you new vocabulary and useful Korean sentences.
Keep in mind that this game offers in-app purchases, so check with your parents before using it if they pay for your subscription.
Price: Free demo account
Famed education app Rosetta Stone needs no introduction. Backed by 20 years of experience teaching language learners from all over the world, the Korean Rosetta Stone app will help you master the ins and outs of the Korean language in no time.
Rosetta Stone’s signature immersion-based method uses audiovisual stimulation to help you learn Korean naturally. The goal is always to memorize vocabulary and grammar patterns more efficiently here.
Now with this nifty digital technology, Rosetta Stone can provide you with real-time feedback to let you quickly identify problem areas, correct your mistakes and hone your speech recognition to achieve more accurate Korean pronunciation.
In addition, the app grants you access to live tutoring sessions where you can practice Korean conversation with a tutor who’s a native speaker. Plus, you can count on Rosetta Stone’s online community of learners to keep you on track.
This is an investment, but purchasing the app offers complete access to the Rosetta Stone Korean features and learning tools on your mobile devices for 24 months. Not sure if it’s quite right for you? Try out a free demo from the official site!
Learn Korean Phrasebook
Price: Free, paid premium version
Whether you’re preparing a visit to Korea or are looking for a solution to give you a head start in learning Korean, this user-friendly app is worth checking out.
Learn Korean Phrasebook delivers what it promises: a mobile Korean phrasebook to help you learn and look up useful sentences in Korean quickly. The app uses high quality audio recordings of native speakers to get you practicing and understanding authentic Korean pronunciation.
Intuitive and easy to use, this well-designed app lists 400 free Korean sentences with their English translations by topics, including Greetings, Basic Conversation, Numbers, Directions and Eating Out. In addition, the app lets you unlock up to 900 words in 18 categories when you purchase the premium version.
Our favorite features include the ability to adjust font size (it matters when you just start reading Hangul!), highlight important words with tips and even store frequently used phrases in a favorites section.
The cherry on top is that the guide is available offline as well, and that you won’t be bothered with annoying ads or popups. Ideal for travelers!
Price: Free, in-app purchases, paid premium account
Korean drama lovers, this is the app you’ve been longing for!
The Viki app lets you stream your favorite Korean movies and dramas on demand, wherever you are. Featuring a vast selection of popular and recently released Korean dramas, the app is a great way to keep up with Korean pop culture and to learn the Korean language using real native Korean content.
To make your learning more efficient, use the Viki app in combination with your newly-downloaded Naver bilingual dictionary app. Viki gives you the option to watch videos with or without subtitles, including Korean subtitles in some instances.
If you opt for subtitles, be sure to look up unfamiliar expressions in the Naver app and take notes of the new vocabulary and grammar you’ve heard in Viki videos. Review your notes regularly and watch the episode again after you’ve memorized your vocabulary list, this time by watching the video entirely without subtitles.
Who said reading Korean news was mission impossible?
Originally designed for Korean natives looking to improve their English, this fantastic free app by “Joongang Daily” makes reading Korean news fun and accessible to Korean learners.
Featuring select articles published in the Korean version of “Joongang Daily,” the app helps expand your understanding of the Korean language by letting you read new content every day on topics as diverse as politics, economy, diplomacy, social issues and the arts. Each article is accompanied by a translation in English so you don’t have to spend too much time looking up difficult words and so you can effectively study autonomously.
Constantly updated with fresh stories hot off the press, the app gives you access to one new article every day along with the collection of archived articles, perfect for catching up with Korean current events and for finding reading material that suits your tastes.
To best use the app, be sure to start off by reading the Korean version of any given article first, multiple times if necessary, until you have fully understood its content. Read it out loud as well to practice your Korean pronunciation. Then, write down any unknown words and structures and proceed to the English version. This will help you verify your understanding of the article and let you figure out the meanings of difficult words.
Write down the translations of difficult words and be sure to review your notes regularly. When you have memorized those words, read the article again and try to translate the article by yourself without looking at the English version.
Alternatively, if you’re an advanced student, try translating the article on your own. Read the Korean version and write down your proposed translation in English. While this is a more tedious, old-school activity, translation exercises work wonders in helping you focus on accuracy!
No need to fly off to South Korea to immerse yourself in Korean culture. This amazing app lets you listen to KBS radio and watch popular Korean shows directly from your smartphone.
Choose from a vast selection of programs, podcasts and talk shows that Korean natives love and watch, all for free. The app lets you access the KBS program schedule directly from your phone, so you never have to miss your favorite content. Watch it live or watch it later by accessing the archives.
We particularly recommend “바른 우리말” (The Right Language), a fascinating program to learn about Korean words, expressions and grammar usage in Korean. The show’s host explains everything with great patience and humor, essential elements for friendly lessons about the language. This program will help you fully make sense of the meanings of certain idioms and tricky vocabulary using etymology, anecdotes and examples in context.
We also recommend listening to “생생 코리아” (Vivid Korea) to keep up with Korea’s fast-changing modern society. Designed for the Korean diaspora, this program discusses new and exciting trends shaping the Land of the Morning Calm along with traditional elements that will deepen your knowledge of this fascinating country, from popular Internet searches to happiness yoga, essential readings that will remind Korean expats of the good ol’ days in the motherland and discussions of traditional Korean cooking.
Be sure to use the app’s interactive features to make learning more fun and interactive. Choose from a selection of 80 emoticons to express how much you like (or dislike!) the programs, and discuss the shows with other listeners.
요리백과 – 만개의 레시피 (Cooking encyclopedia – Recipes for a full bloom)
What better way to learn Korean language than by learning how to cook Korean?
Use this authentic, highly visual Korean cooking app to master the Korean language while also exposing yourself to Korean culture—and making your tummy very, very happy in the process!
The app features simple-to-follow recipes and instructions to help you replicate your favorite meals. Entirely in Korean, the app includes step-by-step tutorials with pictures detailing key ingredients, steps and descriptions of the cooking process. If you aren’t entirely proficient at reading Korean but are a foodie, this is quite possibly the best way to speed up your language skills and motivate you to keep learning!
The cooking encyclopedia is a vast database of 50,000 Korean and international recipes you can do at home. Browse the recipe by dish types, including rice dishes, Korean porridge, rice cakes, soups and stews, main dishes, side dishes and kimchi (yes, you’ll learn how to make various types of kimchi!).
Alternatively, search recipes based on what you’re looking for, including breakfast dishes, foods that are perfect for a dinner date, things to make for a birthday party and everything in between.
In addition, the app provides detailed information on the ingredients listed, perfect to help you familiarize yourself with Korean cooking and ideal if you’re clueless when you go to the Korean market. Feel free to complement the app with concrete practice (read: a field trip to a Korean market near you).
Looking for the ingredients and interacting with Korean natives will help you take your Korean to the next level. Then, get cooking and invite your friends. Aside from showcasing your new skills, sharing your love for Korean food does wonders for keeping you motivated and engaged in your Korean studies!
Now that you know how to turn your phone into your best Korean learning weapon, all you need is a good Wi-Fi connection to start downloading.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.