Sometimes, you just need someone to lend you an ear.
Whether it’s to commiserate, seek advice or ask for a hand with your homemade kimchi trebuchet—the ideal method for effective distribution of deliciousness.
But Korean students need to borrow more ears than most.
That’s because conversation practice is essential when trying to learn Korean.
While there are plenty of websites for learning Korean and options for practicing Korean online, there aren’t all that many ways to practice actually interacting in Korean.
Luckily, Korean students are also at a distinct advantage because chatbots are huge in Korea.
Chatbots are computer programs designed to interact with users and hold conversations as though they were real humans.
They’re often used on business websites to answer user questions and provide basic customer service. Other websites use chatbots for the purpose of entertainment, letting you have a fun exchange with them.
And the chatbot fad has carried over into education, too. So there are chatbots that teach you Korean, but there are also “authentic” chatbots (maybe we should just call them “chatbots intended for native speakers”) that can help more advanced students practice their skills.
So if you’re a Korean learner interested in acquiring a BBF (“Best Bot Forever”), check out the five Korean chatbot resources below.
Why Use a Korean Chatbot?
First, using a Korean chatbot is more interactive than many other learning activities. Since you’re required to read and/or listen and respond, you’re practicing multiple skills simultaneously. Text-based chatbots can even help you learn to read the Korean alphabet and give you some Korean typing practice.
Chatbots are adaptive, like FluentU. The best learning methods adapt to your needs rather than requiring you to adapt to them. While you may not be holding a conversation with a real human being, the things you say affect how a bot responds or reacts, a lot like how FluentU quizzes are customized according to what you’ve already learned.
Another reason to use a Korean chatbot is that you can practice conversation skills. When it comes to language learning, conversation skills are some of the most essential to acquire. After all, if you’re studying Korean, chances are you want to be able to use it in a real conversation. Sadly, conversation skills are also some of the hardest skills to practice, but chatbots can help you get this valuable practice you crave and prepare you for whatever scenario you might encounter, like using basic Korean phrases in a travel situation.
Finally, using a Korean chatbot can help you improve your skills without the intimidation factor of interacting with a native speaker. A lot of Korean students are highly intimidated by communicating in Korean with a native Korean speaker. Since they’re unsure of their skills, using them with a native speaker seems like far too great a challenge. But chatbots can get you the practice you need to transition towards speaking with real people without so much fear.
When you’re ready to take it to the next level and start engaging with native speakers, be sure to borrow some phrases from the video below! You’ll learn 10 easy and common Korean conversation starters to strike up a chat with anyone!
The clip is from the FluentU YouTube channel, full of valuable resources, just like the clip below. So be sure to subscribe to the channel and don’t forget to hit the notification bell for more great content.
5 Powerful Korean Chatbots for Accelerated Learning
Available: iOS | Android
Eggbun has a lot to offer Korean students, particularly those at a beginning level.
Need a Korean tutor you can carry with you everywhere (without getting a restraining order)? Eggbun’s app fits the bill. Want a step-by-step guide from a complete beginner level to conversational proficiency? Eggbun’s got that, too. Looking to familiarize yourself with Korean culture? You know Eggbun has that.
But one of Eggbun’s most exciting and innovative features is its chatbot, Lanny. Now, don’t expect a conversation entirely in Korean. Instead, Lanny will often explain things to you and ask you questions in English.
Sometimes, you’ll be asked to provide Korean letters or words, but sometimes you might even respond in English. That’s because Lanny is more like your tutor than your conversation partner.
There’s no doubt, though, that having an adorable chatbot help you get a handle on basic Korean is the cutest path towards fluency.
Available: iOS | Android
For clarity’s sake, it’s important to note that while Mondly’s iOS app offers plenty of cool features, the chatbot is currently only available for Android or online. So while we’ve linked to iOS for the convenience of anyone interested in Mondly who doesn’t need the bot, please don’t download the iOS app and shed a river of tears at the lack of chatbot.
Mondly’s Korean chatbot is offered through its new innovation, MondlyAR, which is designed to act as a “virtual language learning assistant.” Conversations with the assistant/chatbot are intended to help you practice conversation and improve your pronunciation and fluency.
One clear highlight of Mondly’s chatbot is that you actually get to practice speaking Korean and you’ll hear a reply in a real human voice. The chatbot will start a conversation. Then, you’ll see a couple possible options that you can say in reply. Not sure how to pronounce something? Don’t worry! You can click it to hear it pronounced. When you’re ready to say it yourself, hold down the microphone button and give it a try!
The chatbot will help you practice situations like greetings, eating at a restaurant, staying at a hotel, purchasing tickets, shopping, getting a taxi, making appointments and general conversation.
헬로우봇 – 타로챗봇 라마마와 친구들
Available: iOS | Android
Looking to use Korean like real Koreans? Check out 헬로우봇 – 타로챗봇 라마마와 친구들 (“Hello Bot – Tarot Chatbot La Mama and Friends”). This is an authentic bot intended for native Korean speakers.
헬로우봇 – 타로챗봇 라마마와 친구들 is a fortune-telling app featuring adorable animations that’ll keep you coming back for more.
To get your readings, all you have to do is type back and forth with the chatbot in Korean. Whatever the chatbot tells you, chances are, you’ll see better Korean skills in your future with this app!
Evie is a multilingual online chatbot. She can hold basic conversations in a number of languages, though some of her responses may be a bit awkward and unnatural. Hey, she’s a bot… can you blame her?
What she lacks in conversation skills, though, she makes up for with a moving mouth and expressive eyebrows.
She might not be fully fluent in Korean, but she knows enough that beginners can benefit from a quick chat with her. Plus, unlike some bots, you can speak to her in Korean or write to her in Korean. Then, she responds in both audio and writing. This gives you the option to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening—all the essential skills. And you don’t need to do anything special to switch Evie over to Korean. Just start using Korean with her, and she’ll respond in kind.
Chatting with Evie is an easy, painless way to get some light reading, writing and conversation practice in a convenient format.
SimSimi is a popular chat app that you can use to pass the time. The company is Korea-based, and yes, SimSimi does, in fact, speak Korean!
Currently, the bot works on Android and if you sign in to your Google account.
Now, the one potential downside to be aware of is there have been reports of bullying through the app. What happens is the app is adaptive. It remembers conversations and can learn new words, then uses this information to direct future conversations, so the developers don’t actually preview everything the bot spits out. So take this into account and exercise discretion when using it.
You can report offensive language, and it may be removed. A filter can also help weed out most of the bad words from what you actually see.
Overall, for Korean students, SimSimi has a lot to offer. You’ll get exposure to some helpful Korean words and phrases (though some may be offensive) and get some great chat practice (though it may be highly colloquial).
So go ahead.
Enjoy a long talk with your favorite chatbot.
You might not have all the laughs and gossip you’d share with your best friend, but your best bot has your back when it comes to improving your Korean.
And One More Thing...
If you enjoyed this post, you're already halfway to having the time of your life learning Korean with FluentU!
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Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
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