21 Free Korean Courses Online for Students on a Budget
If you’re trying to learn Korean, chances are you’re a fan of the path less traveled.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you have enough money to go glamping along the way.
Check out these recommendations for Korean courses that either have a free trial or are totally free, perfect for thrifty self-starters.
- 1. Best for Beginners: Loecsen
- 2. Best for Structured Lessons: How to Study Korean
- 3. Best for Audio Learning: Foreign Service Institute
- 4. Best for the Intermediate Level: King Sejong Institute
- 5. Best Beginner Crash Course: The Cyber University of Korea
- 6. Best for Fast Study Sessions: Drops
- 7. Best for Conversation Basics: Duolingo
- 8. Best for Vocabulary: Memrise
- 9. Best for Daily Practice: Daily Dose of Language
- 10. Best For Self-studying: Korean From Zero!
- 11. Best for Lesson Variety: KoreanClass101
- 12. Best For Learners of All Levels: Talk To Me In Korean
- 13. Best for Learning Korean Culture: Easy Korean
- 14. Best for Learning the Basics: Seemile Korean
- 15. Best For Simple Visual Learning: Basic Korean
- 16. Best for Learning through Reading: Readlang
- 17. Best For Learning Hangul: Learn Korean Pronunciation in 30 Minutes
- 18. Best For Learning With Authentic Media: FluentU
- 19. Best For Conversational Topics: Learn to Speak Korean 1
- 20. Best For Engaging Format: Let’s Speak Korean
- 21. Best For Improving Conversation: Rocket Languages
- Why Learn with Free Korean Courses?
1. Best for Beginners: Loecsen
Loecsen offers a delightful array of resources to teach plenty of important Korean vocabulary for beginning students.
The interactive web-based learning allows you to view the word in Korean, the romanization of the word and/or the English meaning. Each word or phrase is also accompanied by a drawing to show you the meaning and audio.
Loecsen, which provides basic conversational courses for many languages, including Korean, utilizes speaking drills with voice recognition technology. The phrase-based lessons allow you to test your pronunciation and get talking with simple content immediately.
Online learning is great, but if you prefer to take your learning offline, Loecsen also has a convenient option for that: The site offers printable worksheets of the vocabulary for easy practice.
2. Best for Structured Lessons: How to Study Korean
Available: iOS | Android
Price: Free; $19.99 for all study units on app
How to Study Korean offers leveled units broken down into easy-to-follow lessons, making it easy to use the site to learn Korean from scratch or to jump in at your current proficiency level.
Lessons include written instructions, videos, workbooks and printable PDFs. There are over 150 total grammar lessons and 5,000 words with audio, so there’s plenty of material to work with.
It’s a lot like a conventional Korean course condensed into a free website. If you prefer a viewing binge for your Korean learning, you can also check out How to Study Korean’s YouTube channel.
3. Best for Audio Learning: Foreign Service Institute
Live Lingua offers a collection of Korean course materials from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).
These course materials are appropriate for beginning Korean students and feature a whopping 40+ hours of content, including audio and ebooks with dialogues, reading exercises, drills, vocabulary and grammar notes.
While it’s a bit dated, it’s hard to beat the structure and sheer volume of material. If you wish you could take a traditional Korean course for free, this is your chance!
4. Best for the Intermediate Level: King Sejong Institute
The good people at King Sejong Institute Foundation have been tremendously generous. This is because the site is funded by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
If you’re looking for beginning or intermediate Korean learning materials, you can access them for free through Sejong Korean. These lessons focus on speaking, listening, reading and writing. The materials include videos and ebooks you can access for free.
One particularly unique feature of this website is that you can choose your language of instruction. You can select between learning in Korean, Chinese, English, Spanish and Indonesian.
To change your language settings, just go to the options bar on the left side of the screen.
5. Best Beginner Crash Course: The Cyber University of Korea
Welcome to The Cyber University of Korea, where resources are plentiful and learning Korean is free!
The Cyber University of Korea offers a Quick Korean program that helps interested learners nail down the basics of the Korean language.
You’ll have to create a free account to access the material, but then you’ll be ready to roll. The site offers cultural lectures, three-minute vocabulary lessons and more in-depth leveled lessons. The leveled lessons come in four levels and cover both vocabulary and grammar.
Lessons come with printable PDFs and downloadable MP3s for easy studying. Want to see what you’ve learned? Online tests allow you to check your progress.
6. Best for Fast Study Sessions: Drops
Available: iOS | Android
Price: Free; $13 per month, $69.99 per year or $159.99 one-time payment
Drops is a simple, minimalist app that gamifies learning the Korean language.
This visual-based learning system helps you memorize vocabulary by seeing, hearing and connecting an associated image with each word. Because each session is just five minutes long, it isn’t too daunting to study a little Korean whenever you have a few minutes.
If you just can’t get enough Drops, a subscription option is available. However, the free version gets you five free minutes of game time each day, which is definitely enough to help build your vocabulary.
If Drops has caught your attention, you can check out our in-depth review of the program here.
7. Best for Conversation Basics: Duolingo
Available: iOS | Android
Price: Free; premium version $12.99 per month or $155.88 per year
Whenever the topic of learning a language for free comes up, you’ll probably hear Duolingo mentioned in the conversation.
Like Drops, Duolingo breaks down your Korean learning into as little as five minutes per day through gamified activities that make learning fun. Activities combine grammar, vocabulary, speaking, reading, writing and listening for well-rounded Korean education.
You can access most of Duolingo’s materials for free without a subscription. However, a subscription removes ads and allows you to download lessons so you can use them when you’re offline.
If you’re thinking about giving Duolingo a go, I highly recommend checking out our full Duolingo review here.
8. Best for Vocabulary: Memrise
Available: iOS | Android
Price: Free; premium version for $27.99 per month or $130.99 per year
A free account gives you access to Memrise’s lessons and reviews.
These include materials produced by both Memrise and other users that can teach you the alphabet, plenty of vocabulary and some tricky grammar rules.
However, Memrise mostly shines in the vocabulary category, so it’s a great tool to use if you are looking to pick up lots of new Korean words.
If you like what you see, a subscription can unlock even more options, including a grammarbot, listening skills mode, video mode and so much more. You can also read our full Memrise review here.
9. Best for Daily Practice: Daily Dose of Language
Price: Free; $9.99 one-time payment
Daily Dose of Language is a convenient app from Innovative Language Learning.
With Daily Dose of Language, you get a Korean “mini-lesson” on your phone, making it easy to study a little each day. Plus, you can receive alerts so you never forget.
These lessons cover a range of topics, including vocabulary, slang, grammar, culture and more. The one-time payment gives you access to additional audio lessons, video lessons and archived mini-lessons.
10. Best For Self-studying: Korean From Zero!
This is a great course for self-guided comprehensive learning of Korean basics.
While there are e-book versions of the three Korean From Zero! courses available, you can also access all the course material online at the link above for free.
What you get with this program is essentially text lessons with audio clips. You can move at your own pace, playing the clips whenever you need them. The material is straightforward, skimmable and includes plenty of example sentences.
Because Korean From Zero! is text- and audio-based, it combines well with more entertainment-based courses like FluentU or Let’s Speak Korean. Besides, if you do a lesson in a KFZ! course every day, you deserve to enjoy some silly learner TV or authentic videos.
Want to know more? Check out my full review of Korean From Zero!
11. Best for Lesson Variety: KoreanClass101
Price: Free; basic plan is $3, premium is $6.50 and premium plus $12.58 per month
KoreanClass101 offers powerful podcasts to upgrade your language skills.
While full access to all the material requires a subscription, new free Korean lessons are added weekly, so once you sign up, you’ll have frequent new material to study.
But if that’s not enough free material for you, you can also access more of what KoreanClass101 has to offer through the site’s YouTube channel. It features hundreds of great videos to teach Korean students about culture, grammar, vocabulary, learning methods and more.
KoreanClass101 is also part of the Innovative Language program. We’ve reviewed Innovative Language in-depth in this review here if it’s piqued your interest!
12. Best For Learners of All Levels: Talk To Me In Korean
Price: Free; $16.99 a month
This site has one of the best YouTube channels on learning Korean. The website also has various Korean learning resources, but you do need to purchase a subscription to receive access to them.
You’ll need to create an account, and then you’ll be able to add materials to your “Learning Center” and take the lessons with audio files and transcripts.
This is another site that does lessons like podcasts. The hosts are funny but sometimes spend a bit of time joking around before getting into the lesson material, which may be a plus or not depending on your tastes.
13. Best for Learning Korean Culture: Easy Korean
Brought to you by Easy Languages, the Easy Korean playlist offers terrific videos that combine culture and language in an engaging way.
Videos are shot on the street to expose you to common scenarios in everyday life, such as riding the bus and using chopsticks.
Because the videos are shot on location in South Korea, they also give you insight into what South Korea is really like. Each video is in Korean, and people speak slowly and clearly.
Plus, the videos are subtitled with both Korean and English to make it easy for students from any skill level to follow along.
14. Best for Learning the Basics: Seemile Korean
Available: iOS | Android
Price: Free; paid membership available for more YouTube content at $9.99 a month
Seemile makes some amazing Korean learning apps, but if you’re looking for a terrific free learning option, Seemile’s YouTube channel is hard to beat.
Seemile Korean features structured lessons to guide you through essential skills. For instance, it provides a playlist dedicated to teaching you to read Korean.
In addition to these structured lessons, Seemile Korean also has tons of other videos that cover topics like pronunciation, listening and more.
If you prefer your Korean lessons be delivered in Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese, Seemile Korean still has your back, offering lessons in all these languages.
15. Best For Simple Visual Learning: Basic Korean
This is a laid-back but practical YouTube course by Conversational Korean that’s easy to follow. Pictures and very basic animation help drill vocab into your head.
They also enable you to envision interactions and real situations where you might need to use Korean as you’re learning.
What’s cool about this series is that it teaches Korean using an entertaining, visual approach that’s normally reserved for kids in educational materials, but appeals to grown-up learners.
This course jumps right into showing full Hangul phrases, so you’ll want to have learned the alphabet before starting. You’ll also need to pause to take notes if you want to retain vocabulary and grammar explanations.
16. Best for Learning through Reading: Readlang
Price: Free; premium is $6 per month or $48 per year
Do you love reading the latest Korean news? Can’t stop reading gossip about your favorite K-pop stars?
Readlang is a web reader that you can download to turn any Korean-language website into a learning tool. Once you have Readlang installed, you can simply click on any word for an instant translation.
Plus, Readlang saves the words you’ve translated and allows you to turn them into flashcards for easy studying.
A free subscription gives you unlimited word translations, unlimited flashcards and 10 phrase translations per day. If you want to translate more phrases, a subscription option is also available.
17. Best For Learning Hangul: Learn Korean Pronunciation in 30 Minutes
Udemy has thousands of online courses available for intrepid learners, many of which are free or extremely affordable.
This course is presented as being about Korean “pronunciation,” but what it’s really about is learning Hangul. Learn Korean Pronunciation in 30 Minutes is a quick, totally free option you can sign up for through Udemy.
It’s brought to you by an experienced Korean instructor who has the cool qualification of having done interpretation for K-pop stars like EXO.
The course is friendly, funny and straightforward. Miss Li Carman, the instructor, uses mnemonic tricks and amusing visuals to teach the vowels, consonants and pronunciation basics that accompany them.
18. Best For Learning With Authentic Media: FluentU
Price: Free trial; pricing information available here
Here's a quick look at the variety of video choices available to you:
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.
Don't stop there, though. You can use FluentU’s unique quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU even tracks your progress and remembers all the words you've learned, making for a 100% personalized experience.
Review sessions use video context to help embed the words in your memory. The best part? You can access the full FluentU video library with a free trial!
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
19. Best For Conversational Topics: Learn to Speak Korean 1
This is one of the highest-rated Korean courses on Coursera, so it’s an option that should be on your radar if you’re looking for a more formal online course.
Taught by Professor Sang Mee Han, Learn to Speak Korean 1 covers six weeks of conversational material, including introductions, food and shopping.
Each week of the course includes about an hour’s worth of videos, along with readings and quizzes.
20. Best For Engaging Format: Let’s Speak Korean
This is a bit of a wild card option, but if you’ve ever wanted to have your language lessons delivered to you in the hopelessly cheesy style of a morning television show, you’re in luck.
Created by the English-language Arirang network, a typical episode involves topics introduced by hosts (teachers) that are then delved into with guests (Korean students like you).
The only drawback to Let’s Speak Korean is that the hosts can be chatty in ways that aren’t always moving the conversation about learning directly forward, but that can have its own appeal.
21. Best For Improving Conversation: Rocket Languages
Price: Free trial; $99.95 for lifetime online access
Rocket Languages Korean online course promises learners an education that will take them from beginner level to good conversational level.
The course involves plenty of tools to help you learn, including audio and writing lessons, flashcard sets, games, a self-rating system and a voice recording feature that lets you improve your pronunciation.
Another special tidbit about Rocket Languages is its chunking teaching method, which involves grouping pieces of information to make a larger whole. This strategy has been shown to be helpful in memorization tasks and thus beneficial as a general study habit.
Why Learn with Free Korean Courses?
You might worry that a free online course is going to be a waste of time or not as smart a choice as another learning method. Okay, that’s fair. But here are some reasons why it still pays not to overthink.
- Immediacy: You’ll start learning before you can talk yourself out of it. The truth is, anything that’s worth doing long-term is usually something that we struggle to maintain over time. Sure, you may have days, weeks or even months where you slack off on your Korean. But the trick to long-term learning isn’t being perfect. It’s taking advantage of the bursts of inspiration you have when you have them.
- Online learning is fun and convenient. You probably already spend a certain amount of time online every day. And some of that time is probably spent looking for ways to entertain yourself: Something interesting happening on social media, an article that’s getting buzz, the latest celebrity news. An online course can easily become just another place you check into—it can be education, but also recreation.
- Online courses give you structure and help create a low-maintenance learning habit. Any amount of learning can be time well spent. But the best reason not to jump from resource to resource is that you end up wasting time re-learning things, or not learning them in an order that makes sense. Having a go-to course to return to every day doesn’t need to feel like a restriction. It’s a way of grounding yourself that gives you freedom in the rest of your learning.
Free Korean courses online aren’t a big commitment, especially with these affordable options.
You can easily back out of one if it doesn’t work out and switch to another one instead.