So you want to study Korean.
The only problem?
There aren’t exactly a lot of opportunities for you to enroll in an in-person course.
In fact, there aren’t any.
And it’s not like you have a ton of cash or vacation time to fly over to Korea for a full immersion course, either.
This is where the beautiful, beautiful internet comes into play.
A simple search, and you’ll find thousands of websites to learn Korean.
But which to choose? After all, one site might be perfect for a beginner and another site might better for someone more advanced. You’ll need to know exactly what’s best for your situation.
Well, in this list, I’m covering the top websites for learning Korean that you’ll need along your journey to mastering the language.
And I’m listing them from beginner to advanced, so you can choose where you want to start and which learning style you think is best for you.
But first, here are some study tips so that you get the most out of learning online. Online learning takes a different kind of discipline than an in-person course!
Study Tips for Making the Most of Learning Korean Online
- Make a schedule and stick to it. If you enrolled in (and paid good money for) a course that holds class every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., how often would you miss class? I’m betting you’d have next to perfect attendance. The same should go for online learning. I highly recommend setting aside about an hour of study each night to learn Korean with websites. And yes, at a certain level, watching your favorite Korean movie, whether you’re renting or using Netflix, totally counts.
- Keep a notebook. Nothing helps you remember how to do something more than physically writing it down, especially if you need to learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Oftentimes, you may have the option of doing little exercises. Either print them out or use your notebook to write down your answers.
- Find somewhere you can talk. You need to be able to repeat after the virtual teachers at some point or sound out new vocabulary. Make sure you have a space where you can do this.
- Use something to warm up your screen. Huh? Okay, hear me out. Don’t your eyes get tired after staring at a screen for too long? Mine certainly do. Downloading software or using a plugin that “warms” up the blue screen will make studying and reading online much easier. I prefer f.lux, but there are quite a few free, safe options out there. This is going to especially help if you schedule your hour later in the evening.
Okay, now that you have some tips for online success, here are the sites to get you there!
13 Shockingly Good Websites for Learning Korean in 2020
While Memrise isn’t exclusively a Korean study site, it has a ton of Korean sections from which to choose. If you’re an absolute beginner who still needs to learn Hangul, head here to begin learning pronunciation.
Choose “Courses,” go to “Korean” and search for “A Lesson Hangul.” Start practicing and listening to the sounds. Using multiple-choice quizzes, you’ll learn the alphabet and even vocabulary words in no time.
It’s a comprehensive and interactive learning platform that is designed to appeal to learners at all levels. FluentU contains hundreds of authentic Korean videos. Each video comes equipped with a number of fantastic language-learning features, such as curated vocabulary lists, interactive subtitles, flashcard decks and comprehension quizzes.
Simply pick a difficulty level and a topic. Then, choose a video you like!
As a FluentU member, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of contemporary videos featuring native Korean speakers. This means you’ll be able to experience modern Korean as it is spoken today in a variety of contexts, such as music videos, commercials, sketch comedy, inspirational talks and much more.
Here’s a quick look at the variety of Korean videos available to FluentU members:
Use the sidebar to sort videos by language level or by content. Or, use the search bar to locate videos that contain a particular phrase or grammar topic.
Once you’ve found a video that appeals to you, get ready for an immersive and customized language-learning experience that allows you to practice grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening and pronunciation all at the same time.
For example, you can check out this sketch comedy short that pokes fun at stereotypical Korean dramas:
Here’s where you get the chance to personalize your language-learning experience to fit your learning style. You can start by jumping right into the video, or take a few minutes to explore the curated vocabulary list. If you’re interested in working on your reading skills, you can jump over to the Dialogue tab and read a full interactive transcript of the video, complete with pronunciation guides.
Once you’re ready to watch the video, you’ll find even more user-friendly features. FluentU makes native Korean videos approachable with interactive subtitles. No matter your Korean language ability, FluentU’s got something for you. You can watch with English and Korean subtitles, just Korean subtitles or no subtitles at all for advanced listening practice.
Come across a word you’re not familiar with? FluentU’s got you covered! Simply click on the word and you’ll find a definition, example sentences and links to other videos that include the word. This is the beauty of FluentU: each new word, phrase or grammatical topic you learn is presented within real-world context. This makes each vocabulary word more memorable—and helps you learn a bit about Korean culture in the process.
Use the convenient “Add To” button as you go to add words to customized flashcard decks or vocab lists, which you can later use as personalized practice resources.
Don’t stop there, though. Each FluentU video comes equipped with a learn mode, where you can actively practice the vocabulary and grammar topics from each video. The learn mode features fun questions and comprehension quizzes. Each new word is presented in context and includes multiple examples—just swipe left and right for more sentences using the same word.
The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and it suggests content based on what you already know and where you need to strengthen. You’ll have a 100% personalized experience.
You can even use the FluentU app to download audio files for offline listening practice, allowing you to immerse yourself in authentic Korean wherever you are and whenever you feel like it.
Start using FluentU Korean on the website or download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Check out a free trial to get started—you’ll be surprised how much you can learn from a few days of binging Korean videos.
Prefer to study from a textbook? Talking2Korean might just be for you.
What began as language activities for a popular language textbook in Australian universities eventually blossomed into a couple of textbooks. The professors continuously revised their content based on ongoing student feedback to make their dialogues as realistic as possible. They did this to get their students to speak to each other immediately and in a natural manner, instead of having them base their learning on traditional polite speech.
Talking2Koreans has mostly free resources, including a couple of eBooks, audio files, vocab lists and self-tests. The textbook “Strategies for Communicating in Korean” can also be found on Amazon.
Although Billy began his journey back in 2005 and now lives in South Korea, he still considers himself to be a student of the language. Compared to native Korean speakers, Billy has a unique perspective on learning the language. Therefore, he’s able to explain complex grammar forms in terms that native English speakers will understand.
Go! Billy Korean is a great place to start since it’s filled with approachable and entertaining content on language, lifestyle and travel. In addition to the website, you can check out his series of books called “Korean Made Simple,” available in print and eBook formats. You may also download them as audiobooks for free.
King Sejong Institute was established by the South Korean government and is now a brand name of Korean language institutes in South Korea and beyond. This agency is all about spreading Korean language education and culture all over the world. Fun fact: The institution was named after the inventor of Hangul!
One of the best parts of this website is the structure of their videos. Concepts are explained in Korean rather than English to enhance your listening skills, immersing you in the language. This can be intimidating for a beginner, but don’t worry—the videos are equipped with English subtitles. And in case you aren’t a native English speaker, or are fluent in any other languages, other language subtitle options are available.
While many of its resources require a paid plan, this site has a ton of free material to begin learning basic vocabulary and even phrases. One fun feature is its vocabulary lists, which are often updated for the holidays.
The free material mainly uses audio to teach you. Lesson PDFs, reviews, dialogue audio and interactive learning features are available with a membership only. Either way, it’s excellent for listening practice.
This site is best for beginners who want to learn with colorful illustrations. Dom is an ESL teacher in Korea and an active student. His wife, Hyo, is a native Korean who can double-check his work, so you know you’re getting accurate graphics.
His comics are fun and easy. They’re great to save and have on hand for quick reference. He also has comics describing daily Korean life, which are in both English and Korean. You can practice your reading comprehension here as your level gets more advanced.
For those who crave a bit more of an academic setting, I’d recommend the Cyber University of Korea’s own free online course, “Quick Korean.”
While I wouldn’t recommend it for an absolute beginner, if you’re at a stage where you want to move beyond basic vocabulary words, this is for you.
Easily one of the most popular online Korean resources, Talk to Me in Korean is an awesome program with native Korean speakers who really understand how to break down more difficult grammar points.
It’s mainly a podcast, but each lesson comes with a PDF of the lesson as well (or you can buy the workbooks in a bundle). While I love TTMIK and listen to the podcasts, I do warn it’s not for a beginner. It’s best to completely know Hangul and build up a vocabulary list before you dive in.
This site is an excellent resource for those who prefer more reading and writing versus listening. It’s thoroughly organized into units. With each lesson, they introduce you to new vocabulary before thoroughly explaining a grammar point. They then provide multiple sample sentences for every situation to help you practice it.
I noticed that when I was studying Korean and needed to search for clarification, this is the site that would pop up and be the most useful.
The Global Language Online Support System (GLOSS) is actually a product of the Defense Language Institute (DLI), part of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). One of its main objectives is training American personnel in foreign languages, and Korean is one of them.
GLOSS Korean is definitely for the more advanced learner as it bases its lessons off of real material like newspapers or television shows to really ensure fluency. This is also great if you want more serious reading to test your comprehension.
Webtoons are an incredibly popular form of entertainment in Korea for all ages. If you prefer something more lighthearted, start scrolling through the hundreds of webtoons available on Korea’s two main search platforms, Naver and Daum. Important to note: Webtoons are designed more for mobile devices than your laptop.
Another resource to use is the multitude of blogs on these same platforms. Look for topics that interest you and change the search to 블로그 (blog). You’ll be able to find something that interests you and get an understanding of how Koreans might write or speak. This is great to pair with the more formal GLOSS, as you’ll come to understand the way a typical Korean speaks.
Well, there you have it! A collection of amazing websites for learning Korean to bring you from total beginner to fluent speaker.
These sites will give you a range of options for whichever part of language learning you want to focus on—listening, writing, speaking or reading.
화이팅 (good luck)!
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.