Typing is indeed an art.
An art that can easily impress others when honed for speed and precision.
But one kind of keyboard is not like another.
Though you may consider yourself a proficient typist in your native or current language, typing in Korean is a whole different beast.
When learning a foreign language like Korean, learning how to type may not be the first thing you think of doing.
But there are many benefits to learning how to type in Korean sooner rather than later.
You can more confidently write to a pen pal, for example, and being able to do any of your regular daily tasks in Korean will help you dive into immersive language learning.
Typing is great for becoming familiar with the Korean alphabet as well.
Your first encounter with the Korean keyboard will be a unique experience, one that promises a good challenge if you wish to learn how to use it.
Therefore, we whipped up this short guide to help you get started typing in Korean!
The Key(s) to Success! An Intro to Korean Typing Practice
How to Get Yourself Set Up for Typing in Korean
Step 1: Install a Korean keyboard
The first thing to do is, of course, to set up a Korean keyboard on your computer.
There are two major forms of Korean keyboards:
- the 두벌식 (du-beol-sik, or 2-beolsik) keyboard
- the 세벌식 (se-beol-sik, or 3-beolsik) keyboard
The 두벌식 keyboard separates consonants and vowels to their own respective sides: the left for consonants and the right for vowels.
The 세벌식 keyboard has syllable-initial consonants (those that can appear in front of a vowel) on the right and vowels, consonant clusters and syllable-final consonants (those that can appear after a vowel) on the left.
Although the 세벌식 keyboard is meant to be more ergonomic, the 두벌식 keyboard is the standard for Koreans and is more widely used.
It’s quite easy to access a Korean keyboard as most computers nowadays have multi-lingual features.
Here’s an easy set-up guide.
How to Set Up a Korean Keyboard on a Mac
- Go to System Preferences (located on the apple icon in the corner).
- Click on Keyboard, then go to the Input Sources tab.
- Click the + symbol under the left sidebar (which will list all the language keyboards currently set up).
- Scroll down to the Korean option and choose your preferred keyboard type.
- To quickly swap your keyboards later on, select the “Show input menu in menu bar” option—you’ll see a flag icon on the menu bar that you can click to change your keyboard layout and language.
How to Set Up a Korean Keyboard on a PC (Windows 10)
- From the Start menu, go to Settings.
- Click on Time & Language, then Region & Language
- Click on the Korean option, then Add a Keyboard.
- Choose the Korean keyboard layout you prefer.
- To quickly swap your keyboards later on, press and hold the Windows key, then press the space bar—you can then toggle between your keyboard layouts.
Note that instructions may be slightly different depending on the Windows version you currently own. You can get those instructions easily by searching on Microsoft’s support page.
Step 2: Memorize the layout
Remember, you’re essentially learning a completely new keyboard, with characters positioned in places meant to be helpful for Korean natives (but not necessarily for others)!
You may think that memorizing means staring long and hard at the keyboard, but that’s not the best way to go about it. Instead, try to remember the general details, such as where the vowels and consonants are, which keys have double consonants, and so forth. As you practice typing, muscle memory will make things easier—with time, you’ll soon be typing Korean effortlessly without looking at the keyboard at all!
We’ll get into some online resources you can use specifically for practicing your Korean typing below, but one of the best ways to memorize the Korean keyboard layout is to use it in your learning. This may not sound like the simplest thing to do if you’re learning with a textbook or other tools that don’t integrate typing directly, but never fear, FluentU’s Plus plan has you covered.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
For very diligent learners, using a Korean keyboard or keyboard cover can be a fantastic method of memorization:
- Korean keyboard covers, such as Kuzy’s Korean keyboard cover for Macs, can simply be laid over your existing keyboard.
- If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase an actual Korean keyboard—luckily, many Korean keyboards are bilingual and also have the QWERTY layout superimposed with the Korean characters, such as this USB Korean-English keyboard from Samsung.
- A third option is putting Korean keyboard stickers, like these, onto your existing keyboard. This is definitely the cheapest option, although you have to make sure you put the stickers in the right place!
Step 3: Learn your letter combinations
Written Korean consists of characters combined in a certain manner, leading to syllables that are sounded out by meshing the sounds of those characters. The general rule is that a consonant is followed by a vowel, and that vowel can then be followed by either a consonant or vowel. For typing, it’s very useful to have a good understanding of how Korean character combinations work, and pay special attention to vowels!
When typing Korean, you’ll notice that characters will automatically combine. After you finish typing a syllable and move on to type the next, the starting consonant for that new syllable may automatically appear on the bottom of your first one—for example, if you’re typing 가족 (gajok, which means “family”) and just finished typing out 가, the ㅈ character will first appear right under it to spell out 갖.
Don’t be alarmed—this happens because any given Korean syllable can have more than two characters, so the computer won’t know immediately what you want to type. However, if you keep typing, the system will automatically correct itself and fix the words accordingly, so long as you type properly. This makes the process quite convenient!
After completing these steps, now you can start utilizing some resources to actually start practicing!
5 Resources for Korean Typing Practice
An award-winning typing competition website, TypeRacer provides a platform for users all around the world to compete in typing races. You’ll be typing quotes from different types of media and hone your speedy fingers, all while facing off against other people—many of whom are probably also doing their own foreign language studies!
TypeRacer was designed to be educational and offers 50 different languages. Enough time spent on this site will not only give you a fun, challenging way to practice typing in Korean, but no doubt boost your typed words-per-minute rate.
10FastFingers lets you get both private and shared typing training, so you can go solo in your practice or go the multiplayer route to compete with others.
Individual practice consists of timed tests based on the top words used in the language, with the advanced level choosing from the top 1000 words. The advanced typing test, with its notable difficulty, requires you to have completed at least 10 normal tests and have a log-in account. The multiplayer option is much like TypeRacer’s competitive format with a score leaderboard.
There’s even room for personal customization as you can make your own typing test and pick your own text to work your fingers on! This will definitely add a bit of spice to your practice.
Named for the Korean onomatopoeia for typing, this website offers a very simple, cute and colorful interface for learning how to type on a Korean keyboard. The entire site is in Korean, but it’s not particularly difficult to navigate around.
This site is best suited for those just starting out in typing Korean or those who aren’t very quick with typing in general. One character is shown and a single key must be pressed per turn. There are illustrated hands that tell you which finger you should use. While it won’t be pushing your finger dexterity and speed to the limits, this site does put focus on deliberate and careful typing so you get acquainted with the keys and characters, which is quite valuable if you want to get proficient.
Club Bezzangi’s Korean Typing Practice app
This is an app available for Android devices where you can practice your typing—although you’ll be doing so on a phone or tablet! The digitized Korean keyboard shouldn’t be different from a standard physical one, so there’s nothing that really changes besides a greater use of your thumbs for typing and a chance for Korean texting practice.
Club Bezzangi teaches some Korean vocabulary along with typing practice, either offering direct translations of the words or showing pictorial representations. There’s even a support voice that will pronounce the words for you, as well as a timer to keep you on your toes (or fingertips!). You can also change your keyboard to your liking in a setup menu.
This is a useful resource when you don’t have access to a physical keyboard and computer but still want to get some informative practice.
Memrise’s “Typing Korean characters” course
Memrise offers an instructive course to help you learn the basics of typing in Korean, so this is a good choice if you’re just starting out and want to get acquainted with typing in an organized manner. To get access to the content, you’ll need to sign up for an account, but it’s free!
There are ten sections covering the whole methodology of typing in Korean, so you’ll be able to digest it slowly and get practice in each aspect before putting it all together. This is a good resource to use if you prefer learning “in pieces” so you get a strong foundation to work off of before focusing on improvement in overall aspects such as speed.
Learning to type in Korean will be both challenging and rewarding. You’ll fumble and hit “Backspace” or “Delete” many times before you get faster and more confident, but with enough diligence and practice, your fingers will be dancing over the keys in no time.