Learning a new language is a fun, challenging and incredibly rewarding experience.
And as it turns out—you’ve also probably heard this one before—Korean is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn.
Thanks to the dawn of the Digital Age, learning Korean (or any foreign language!) has truly never been easier.
There are plenty of online resources and a wealth of support to learn and speak Korean like a native, if only you know where to search.
Here are the best and most effective ways to learn Korean online.
5 of the Most Fun and Effective Ways to Learn Korean Online
Learning Korean online can be daunting—unless you know how to approach it!
As a matter of fact, the web has just what you need to help you reach fluency or near-fluency if you dedicate sufficient time and effort.
If you’ve never heard of Naver, read up! The leading Korean search engine offers arguably the best Korean-English online dictionary. And it’s entirely free!
What It Is
A very comprehensive English-Korean, Korean-English dictionary.
The dictionary features an instant translation service (much like Google Translate), pattern recognition, thorough definitions that provide plenty of context and nuances of word usage, extensive lists of examples to demonstrate usage and a thesaurus. This will quickly become your go-to resource for deciphering unknown words and idioms.
How to Use It
Use it like any dictionary: type the word you don’t understand into the search box and note down the results. If you don’t have a Korean keyboard on your computer yet, you should go ahead and get on this—it’s almost too easy, for Mac and PC users alike.
On a Mac, go to “System Preferences,” then “International” and finally “Input Menu.” That’s where you’ll add Hangul (Korean) as a keyboard. On Windows, go to “Control Panel” and click “Change keyboards or other input methods,” then “Keyboards and Languages” and finally “Change keyboards…” to get to where you can add a Korean keyboard to your options. Choose Korean, add it as your secondary keyboard and even assign a keyboard shortcut to instantly swap your keyboard into Korean when the need arises. Doing this on your smartphone, tablet or any other gadget is just as simple.
If you’re feeling lazy, you can always copy and paste a Korean word into the search bar and let the Korean-English Naver dictionary display the results.
Make sure to review the new words you look up regularly, and if possible, write them in a “Word Notebook” that you can always keep on hand, whether it be a paper notebook or a digital one. An effective way to use this notebook is to arrange words by topics or ideas (for example, have a page just for colors, another page for travel, etc.).
For advanced learners, Naver also offers a Korean-Korean dictionary that’s used by Korean natives and even an encyclopedia with great content (think of it as the Korean Wikipedia).
If you’re near fluent and learning hanjas, Naver offers a resource to help you identify the meaning of hanjas as well!
If you can’t travel to Korea but want to take your Korean language learning to the next step nonetheless, FluentU offers a great language immersion experience.
What It Is
FluentU is a fun and interactive language learning program using immersive techniques and authentic content to teach you quickly and naturally. You can use it on your tablet or computer by logging into the main website, or you can download the FluentU iPhone or Android app.
It offers a library of authentic, carefully annotated Korean audio and video clips that will continue to grow as it’s updated regularly. All of these clips come with interactive subtitles and have accompanying mini-lessons with explanations, word lists, multimedia flashcard decks and downloadable PDF printouts. Videos range from short clips to K-pop songs, talks, cartoons, news clips and more!
All videos come with lesson roadmaps, letting you review the key vocabulary, grammar and conjugation you’ll be exploring.
How to Use It
Customize your lesson plan. Sign up for an account and select the videos that most appeal to you. You’re free to organize your lesson plan by interest, topic and skill level. Customize your own lesson plan using the save feature and track your progress accordingly. Individuals learn more effectively from what’s most useful to them, so FluentU lets you select content that’s most relevant to your needs, ensuring that you’ll absorb as much knowledge as possible from chosen videos.
If you don’t feel like learning about colors is a priority but are passionate about food and want to learn everything about Korean cuisine, it’s definitely best to start there—watch clips taking place in restaurants, kitchens and dining rooms. Being highly curious about a subject and wanting to know everything about it is truly the best way to learn, bond with people from other cultures and start communicating!
Be regular and organized. Devote at least 20 minutes a day to your lessons, and you’ll see progress quickly!
Focus on pronunciation and listening. Korean is a challenging language for English speakers due to its unique sounds. From experience, watching videos is the best thing you can do to fine tune your ear to the subtleties of Korean pronunciation.
Make sure you get plenty of exposure and feel free to take notes on surprising pronunciations, new words and useful grammar patterns from the videos you watch.
You’re free to decide whether you want to challenge yourself and view video without subtitles—or with them, and if so, in which language.
And beyond Korean, your FluentU membership lets you learn any of its other offered languages at the same time!
Oh, and before we forget, the FluentU Korean Learner blog (where you are right now!) is a great resource for receiving resource recommendation, tips, learning motivation and updates on the FluentU Korean program.
If you’re interested in putting your language skills to practice and speak with a Korean native, eXlogue is the way to go!
What It Is
eXlogue is a fun and effective language exchange community backed by Harvard Innovation Labs. It’s the perfect resource to find native Korean language partners online and practice your Korean listening and speaking skills!
The platform is free to use. In exchange, all is you need is to reciprocate and give back to the community. You’ll just need to offer to teach your own language in exchange, or teach any skill that a member is interested in learning that you already master.
How to Use It
Simply create an account and get involved in the community. eXlogue works on a credit basis and rewards active members. Spend time teaching a skill or language that you know and find the right partner to exchange with.
Friendship! The best part of using this platform is that you’ll make great relationships with people from all over the world. Additionally, beyond Korean, eXlogue lets you learn any language or skills that you want. It also offers great motivational support from the community and tips to improve your learning experience.
Reddit needs no introduction. As a confirmation of the modern adage that there’s a subreddit for everything, Reddit really does have a great Korean community!
What It Is
This subreddit is a great resource to turn to and ask any questions you may have about the Korean language. There are many Korean natives and Korean learners who visit it regularly and are genuinely interested in helping you progress. They will give you plenty of tips and feedback about points that you may be struggling with—just be sure to say thank you and reciprocate!
How to Use It
Read the guidelines! Every subreddit is different, so if you’ve used Reddit before, be sure to know the specific etiquette that applies to the Korean subreddit.
Ask a detailed question and give as much context as possible. General questions may already have been answered on this subreddit, so members tend to feel that you can find the answer in a simple Google search, by searching the subreddit (which you can do with Reddit’s built-in search bar) or by reading past posts.
Give back! Don’t be a taker—introduce yourself, spend time making yourself known to the community, share your own insights about subjects you know firsthand, reply to comments and always thank the community for the answers they give when needed!
This is a really fun subreddit with lots of interesting and helpful people, and can sometimes leads to meaningful friendships outside Reddit.
Check out their Ultimate Beginner’s Resource Thread and Ultimate Intermediate’s Resource Thread for recommendations from seasoned learners. There’s also a live chat that you can use to throw out quick questions and to better connect with the community.
Subscribe to this subreddit (and other related ones) so that you regularly see Korean-related posts on your home page!
For those interested in a more structured approach to learning Korean online, this is the site you’re looking for!
What It Is
A vast library of free online Korean courses for beginners and intermediate learners. Each lesson features easy explanations to deepen your knowledge of Korean grammar and vocabulary, and it’s all specifically targeted to English speakers and the challenges they’ll encounter early on.
How to Use It
Courses are organized into a basic curriculum that lays things out nicely for you, but you don’t need to follow it. Simply take the classes at your leisure and at your own pace.
Keep a notepad handy and take your own notes. Feel free to rephrase grammar and conjugation explanation things in your own words. What matters most is that your notes are personal and that you understand them when you go over them. Make sure to review the lessons effectively and be regular. It’s best to spend a little time here every day, rather a lot of time once a week!
Lastly, be sure to combine these theoretical courses with a language exchange platform for maximum efficacy, and so that you can effectively practice speaking and listening skills with a native.
For those of you who are curious about the Korean culture and society, this site offers a lot of interesting articles, facts and insights about Korean culture, covering topics like Taekwondo, the Korean War and many more.
Korean sure is a fascinating language—we’re happy that you’ve decided to take the leap and learn it. If you’re a more advanced learner looking for resources, then we applaud your desire to find new sources of information.
Most of all, we’re very excited for all the enriching experiences that are bound to come your way as you progress with Korean.
안녕! (annyeong! goodbye, so long!)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.