Let’s face it. There aren’t a lot of brick and mortar places to study Korean outside of Korea.
And you probably can’t wear your pajamas to any of them.
So what to do? Learn Korean online!
Today, there are so many programs and promises; it can be hard to figure out where to start.
Don’t worry. I’m going to outline exactly how to learn Korean online so that you can be as fluent as a native.
And the best part? You can stay in your pajamas the whole time.
However, you are going to need some structure to succeed, so first here are five tips to help you stay organized and focused.
Tips for Successfully Studying Korean Online
Find the perfect study spot
You’re going to need somewhere quiet and semi-private. If you live with other people, you can’t very well start speaking while everyone is getting ready for dinner!
Create a daily or weekly routine
You want to create a routine because it’s way too easy to push off studying each day. I recommend an hour daily if you really want to learn quickly.
Don’t get distracted
Being on the internet makes it pretty easy to click over to another site and get totally distracted. Use a program or an app to restrict yourself. I personally like the Take a Five website.
A notebook and pencil are still essential
Even though you’re online, you’ll still want a pencil and paper for taking notes. Nothing drives home vocabulary more than physically writing it down.
Warm up your screen
Use an app to warm up your screen. Notice how it’s a harsh blue tint? Warming it up will give you a reddish glow and be much easier on the eyes.
So now that you’re all set to study, here are the exact steps you need to learn Korean online. I’ve even included some programs to make it easier!
5 Steps to Learning Korean Online in Your Pajamas
1. Start with Hangul
Hangul is the Korean alphabet, and it’s extremely easy to master. We’ve recommended this first step multiple times in previous posts for good reason. You can’t expect to master the language without knowing its alphabet like the back of your hand. Learning it can be as easy as downloading a photo and memorizing every character, but if you need a little more hands-on help, here are two places that do an awesome job.
If you need a fun way to practice online, make yourself a study set on Quizlet. You can then practice, take tests and even play games to really master the alphabet.
This YouTube channel has a great series on pronouncing and explaining the alphabet. The charismatic host starts with the absolute basics and goes on to explain all the details, like how the vowels and consonants combine. After that, you can stick around this channel for loads of authentic Korean lessons, cultural notes and personal vlogs.
2. Build vocabulary
Before you can start learning conversational phrases or grammar, you need to have a solid vocabulary. Plan to study and know between 500 and 600 words in order to get yourself off the ground with conversational Korean.
To choose those words, think about the most commonly used words for describing daily events—numbers, colors, objects, food, drinks, directions—and build from there. Here are some vocabulary resources to get you started.
On their site, you can find a ton of illustrations for a variety of everyday Korean vocabulary. The fun themes and layouts make it an excellent reference source.
While this program has paid options, there are plenty of resources on its free plan, and this includes many vocabulary lists from which to choose. Start with its Core 100. You’ll get the word, translation, a picture, an audio option and a few example sentences. To see if you’d like to use the full suite of resources and learning features here, then take them up on their free trial offer.
Memrise is a great website to test yourself on vocabulary. They create their mini-courses based on different Korean textbooks, and you can even create your own.
3. Choose a course to study grammar
Once you have an arsenal of vocabulary, it’s time to start putting it all together! Start with the basics (sentence structure, past, present and future tenses) and slowly work your way to more complex concepts. The programs listed below all start with the basics and slowly increase in difficulty.
This is by far one of the most popular websites for grammar study. Their strongest asset is their teachers’ personalities and entertaining podcast format. Each lesson has a podcast and a lesson PDF for further study.
You can put your grammar knowledge into action by watching their many YouTube videos.
Broken up into 6 units and 133 lessons, this smart website will give you a more thorough explanation and a ton of examples per lesson.
If you prefer video courses, Quick Korean is a great alternative. You’ll have a lecturer break down the vocabulary on-screen, an example video and practice work all within the same video.
4. Get authentic
What does a normal Korean read, watch or listen to? Getting more exposure to authentic Korean can involve anything from changing your phone’s language to watching a Korean movie in full. Once you can read Hangul comfortably, have a growing vocabulary and are in the middle of learning grammar, it’s time to look for authentic Korean material. Here are some places to start.
Since FluentU pulls its videos from the real world, it’s a great way to start practicing. You can even start incorporating it early on as you’re learning Hangul, since its videos are made approachable for learners of every level. Interactive subtitles and on-screen definitions will help you out along the way.
You would be surprised to find out most Koreans don’t use Google. If you really want to immerse yourself, hop on Naver and Daum. Read blogs, webtoons, search news articles… anything you’d normally do on Google, do on them. I personally prefer Naver, but it’s all up to you.
One of the best ways to incorporate authentic music in your study routine is by through Korean music. While K-pop singers are better known, tons of other genres are out there. You’ll get used to the sounds and be able to look up the lyrics.
Start with more relaxed songs and build your way up to ones with faster tempos. Fun bonus: When you think you’ve mastered a song, go to Naver and search for the song’s name + 노래방 (Korean). Then practice singing it all on your own!
5. Find programs to chat with Korean speakers
Right now you’re regularly reading, writing and listening to Korean. All you need is something to practice your speaking! Luckily there are plenty of ways to do this online. Two of my favorites are the following resources.
This app allows you to connect with a Korean speaker right from your phone. Use it just as you would iMessage or Facebook chat.
Don’t let the rudimentary web design fool you, this is actually a great site for finding someone for a language exchange. The site has a whole outline on how to choose your partner and succeed in improving your speaking and listening via conversation.
And there you have it! Here are the five steps on how to learn Korean online. While it seems simple, just remember—you’ll learn as much as you put in.
Practice Korean regularly, and you’ll seem like a native speaker in no time! Do the bare minimum, and it’s going to take much longer.
공부 열심히 해요! (Study hard!)
Samantha is a freelancer and travel blogger. She majored in Spanish as an undergraduate and taught English in Korea for two years while studying the language. Check out her adventures over at There She Goes Again.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.