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How Long Does it Take to Learn Korean?

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Many aspiring Korean learners are plagued by a common question: How long does it take to learn Korean? 

Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer. It really depends on a number of factors, such as your native language, education, experience with languages, exposure, and motivation.

Your intended proficiency level also plays a role in determining how long it takes to learn the Korean language. Do you want to be able to… 

  • …read simple Korean words? 
  • …hold a conversation with locals? 
  • …work in South Korea? 

Each of these goals requires a different skillset and time commitment, so keep this in mind before taking the leap and beginning your studies. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to estimate how long it will take you to learn the Korean language based on your background and the proficiency level you have in mind. As a reference point, we’ll be using standards from the TOPIK proficiency test.

A Ticking Timer against a White Background

Mastering the Korean language takes time and effort.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors That May Impact Your Studies
  2. TOPIK Beginner’s Level
  3. TOPIK’s Intermediate Level
  4. TOPIK’s Advanced Level
  5. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Reach Your Goals

The Many Factors That May Impact Your Studies

Before we jump right into how long it takes to reach each level, there are a few factors you need to keep in mind. 

Your Native Language vs. Korean 

Thanks to King Sejong, you don’t need to learn all the complicated Chinese characters to learn Korean! But you do need to understand that Koreans use Sino-Korean vocabulary, which refers to Korean words of Chinese origin and words directly borrowed from the Chinese language. For this reason, if your first language is Chinese or Japanese (Kanji), you’ll get the hang of Sino-Korean vocabulary a lot faster than speakers of other languages will. 

Your Language Learning Experience 

If you already speak a foreign language or have been raised in a bilingual (or even a trilingual) environment, you’ll save so much time! It’s usually faster to pick up a third or fourth language than it is to learn a second language. A new study from the University of Haifa revealed that bilinguals can pick up a third language more effectively than monolinguals can a second language. This is because bilinguals have already developed an aptitude for language learning. 

Your Motivation and Attitude

Whether you want to learn the Korean language to understand the lyrics of your favorite K-pop songs or because you want to work in South Korea, your motivation and attitude toward learning Korean will significantly affect how quickly you pick up the language. 

Learning Methods

Are you planning to study Korean casually on your own? Or are you already in a Korean-speaking country and fully immersed in the language? Maybe you want to go to a language school or learn online? There are many different learning methods out there, so make sure you choose the one that suits you best.

Businessmen Climbing Ladders and Charting Their Success

Little by little, you’ll reach the level you want.

TOPIK Beginner’s Level

Reaching the beginner level of Korean is a huge milestone and a victory that will propel you forward in your studies. But how long does this usually take? 

The TOPIK test ranks beginners as either Level 1 or Level 2, depending on how well they score. Here’s what each level means: 

Level 1
  • You can use basic survival phrases and sentences, such as those used for greeting or placing orders.
  • You can express yourself in everyday conversations on familiar topics.
  • Your vocabulary consists of about 800 basic words.

Level 2 
  • You can hold short discussions on familiar topics.
  • You can correctly distinguish between formal and informal situations.
  • Your vocabulary consists of about 1500-2000 words. 

At this level, you’ll have a very limited vocabulary but can participate in greetings or short talks about your day. It will take about three to six months to reach the beginner level, depending on your study schedule. At this point, it’s important to master Korean spelling and to build a strong fundamental grammar foundation. Without this foundation in place, it will be challenging for you to move forward.

The perfect way to study at this stage is to write each Korean character down on a piece of paper several times until you have each one memorized. To start, you can download free PDF materials from KoreanClass101.com on the page Learn the Korean Alphabet, Hangul, from A to Z!

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the Korean characters, move on to learning the basic Korean grammar rules. After that, I recommend you learn basic phrases for introducing yourself, greeting people, and even ordering food at a restaurant! KoreanClass101.com has you covered with the following lesson series: 

Learning basic Korean grammar principles will help you build your vocabulary skills, too. Check out the pages below if you want to speed up your studies and learn the most important and commonly used words.

At this level, flashcards will be your best friends! We recommend you check out a few different apps that provide a flashcard function.

If you’re struggling to understand the rules of grammar or anything related to the Korean language, ask around. Our Korean forum is a great place to ask questions to other Korean students as well as native Korean speakers.

A Man Trying to Pronounce Letters that Are Foreign to Him

The more you practice the Korean language, the faster you will reach the level you want!

TOPIK’s Intermediate Level

Your next milestone will be to reach the intermediate level of Korean. But what exactly does this look like, and how long will it take to get there? The TOPIK test has two intermediate level rankings: Level 3 and Level 4. 

Level 3
  • You can maintain social relationships and carry out basic conversations while in public.
  • You understand how to speak correct Korean and use words appropriately.
  • You have a good understanding of and command over the fundamentals of the language.

Level 4
  • You can accurately comprehend news articles, social issues, and abstract topics in Korean.
  • You have good comprehension of Korean social and cultural content, and can understand essential idioms and other defining features of Korean culture.

It can take anywhere from one to two years to reach Level 3, which equates to about 600 hours of studying

At this level, you have familiarized yourself with Korean spelling and basic Korean grammar concepts. You also have the ability to hold short conversations and exchanges, such as greeting someone or buying items. Here are some KoreanClass101 lesson series you can study in conjunction with your textbooks: 

In order to achieve Level 4, you should be willing to dedicate 2 to 4 years (or about 1,000 hours) of studying. The great news is that once you reach this level, you can start learning more complex grammar rules and a variety of verb conjugations used in advanced contexts.

If you’re studying on your own, this would be a good time to get at least a few hours of private lessons or online coaching to solidify your knowledge and make sure you’re on the right track. Also, watching Korean dramas, films, or even news stations is a great way to level up your Korean language skills. Here are a few more Korean resources you can check out on KoreanClass101.com:  

This is only a snapshot of what we have to offer our learners. When you have time, explore our site to get an even better idea of how we can help you reach the intermediate level and beyond!

Two Ladies Working in an Office

TOPIK’s Advanced Level

Are you shooting for the stars and hoping to attain an advanced level of Korean? Good for you—we know you can do it. But how long does it take to learn Korean fluently? 

Level 5
  • You are fluent enough in Korean to perform professional research or work-related tasks in the language.
  • You can understand and discuss less familiar topics in politics, economics, and similar fields.
  • You can appropriately use expressions, distinguishing between formal and informal as well as written and spoken Korean.

Level 6
  • You are completely fluent in Korean for professional research or work.
  • You are able to understand and express yourself with no issues (though you’re still not quite as fluent as a native speaker).

At this stage, you can use Korean fluently and accurately in academic or professional contexts.

If you want to achieve this level, be prepared. It will take at least a few years, though just how quickly you learn depends on you and your methods for studying. Nevertheless, expect to spend about 1,500 hours or more to get to this level.

Start watching Korean movies without subtitles, reading books, listening to Korean music, and most importantly, find native speakers you can interact with regularly. At this point, living in South Korea is the best option because you’ll get a massive dose of real-life Korean every day. You’ll constantly be introduced to new accents, slang terms, and idiomatic expressions you wouldn’t find in grammar books. 

Here are some additional study materials for you as you progress from intermediate to advanced:

A Young Lady Holding a Korean Flag

How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Reach Your Goals

In this article, you learned how long it takes to learn Korean for each proficiency level, reviewed the many factors involved in calculating those numbers, and received some advice on how to learn Korean effectively at each stage. Feel free to let us know in the comments if you have any questions on what we covered today! 

For many students, the ability to study Korean anywhere and anytime is a major factor in how motivated they are and how quickly they learn. Online classes are the best option in this regard, because they’re usually suitable for any level and are more affordable than attending school or paying for private lessons. There are plenty of free language learning websites that allow you to study from home at your own pace—so why choose KoreanClass101.com

We make learning both fun and effective through proven teaching methods, and we cater our lessons to learners at each level. Even without a paid subscription, you can access tons of free Korean study materials: 

We also provide the option to upgrade to a Premium or Premium PLUS account for even more learning materials, exclusive content, and additional benefits. For example, Premium PLUS members can get one-on-one coaching with their own private tutor through MyTeacher

Happy Korean learning! You can do this. 😉

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Is Korean Hard to Learn (Or Easier Than You Think)?

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So, you’ve decided to learn Korean. That’s good! 

But we’re sure there’s still that creeping question at the back of your mind: Is Korean hard to learn? 

In this article, we’ll answer this question and provide you with examples of things that learners find difficult (and simple) about the language. By the time you’re done reading, you may just walk away with the realization that Korean is easier than you thought! 

But first…

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Korean Table of Contents
  1. Why Should You Learn Korean?
  2. Is it Hard to Learn Korean?
  3. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Korean?
  4. Advice for New Korean-Learners
  5. Why is KoreanClass101 Great for Learning Korean?

1. Why Should You Learn Korean?

Korea is becoming more and more popular worldwide, largely due to K-pop influence. Many K-pop fans learn Korean so that they can read and understand the lyrics of their favorite songs and travel to Korea one day. In fact, learning Korean will open up many new doors; you’ll be able to meet more people and understand that there are many different ways of seeing the world

Another advantage of being able to speak Korean is that you’ll have more opportunities to be hired by a global company. This is because more and more companies are seeking bilingual or multilingual professionals every year. 

Another advantage? Being bilingual is actually good for your health because it keeps your brain sharp and delays the symptoms of memory loss.

2. Is it Hard to Learn Korean?

There’s no definitive answer to this question because so many different factors come into play. 

For example, many Korean words are derived from Chinese characters. Therefore, if your native language also has words derived from Chinese characters, Korean vocabulary won’t be too difficult for you. And if your native language has a similar grammatical structure (like Japanese, for example), you’ll have an easier time learning Korean than people who speak very different languages. In short, any existing similarities between your native language and Korean will help immensely! 

Remember that becoming fluent in Korean requires a good deal of effort and devotion from the learner. It may be difficult at the beginning, but once you have the basics down, Korean is easy! Mastering a new language takes time, but don’t worry. Many aspects of the Korean language are simple, so you can quickly master the beginner level. 

3. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Korean?

So what makes Korean hard to learn? And what things do most learners find easy? Let’s find out:

1 – Memorizing the Korean Alphabet = Very Easy

New Korean-learners often start by memorizing the Korean alphabet, 한글 (Hangul), which is incredibly simple and easy to learn. A lot of Korean-learners report that each Korean letter is easy to memorize and that it takes about one or two hours to memorize them all. 

Each character in Korean is made of two or three elements, usually as simple as a vowel and a consonant. Each consonant and vowel has its own sound that you need to learn by heart. Once you learn the Korean alphabet, you’ll need to learn how to combine the letters/sounds to make words. 

For example:

  • 가 (ga) is a combination of ㄱ(g) andㅏ(a).
  • 헐 (heul) is a combination of ㅎ (h),ㅓ(eo), and ㄹ (l/r).
  • 모 (mo) is a combination of ㅁ (m) and ㅗ (o).
  • 괘 (gwe) is a combination of ㄱ (g), ㅗ (o), andㅐ(e).
  • 학교 (hakgyo) is a combination of ㅎ(h),ㅏ(a),ㄱ (g),ㄱ (g), and ㅛ (yo).
  • 핸드폰 (haendeupon) is a combination of ㅎ(h),ㅐ(ae),ㄴ (n), ㄷ (d), ㅡ (eu), ㅍ (p), ㅗ (o), and ㄴ (n).

As you can see, it’s not that difficult! Once you manage to memorize all of the Korean letters and sounds, you can easily start combining different consonants and vowels to create words.

You can download our Korean Hangul eBook for free and practice Korean words in our “Learn the Korean Alphabet, Hangul, from A to Z!” lesson. Feel free to check out the page and download the Hangul charts to practice your Korean spelling, too.

2 – The Power of the Verb 하다 (hada) = Easy  

Many Korean verbs are just nouns connected to the verb 하다 (hada). 

For example, the verb 공부하다 (gongbuhada) is made up of the noun 공부 (gongbu) and the verb 하다 (hada). The direct translation is “study doing,” and it literally means “I study.” You can do the same thing for taking a shower: 샤워하다 (syawohada) is the combination of the word “shower,” or 샤워 (syawo), and the verb 하다 (hada). 

The verb form 하다 (hada) is used in writing, and the form changes in speaking. You can say 해 (hae) or 합니다 (hamnida) instead. For example, 공부해 (gongbuhae) means “I study” and is usually spoken among friends. On the other hand, 공부합니다 (gongbuhapnida) is formal language and is appropriate to use in a formal setting (such as in business).

Examples: 

  • 수영 (suyeong) or “swim” (noun) + 하다 (hada) or “to do” (verb) = 수영하다 (suyeonghada) or “to swim” 
  • 수영합니다 (suyeonghamnida) -> a formal way to say “(I) am swimming”
  • 수영해 (suyeonghae) -> a casual way to say “(I) am swimming”

Can you see how easy it is to say a simple sentence? Have a look at our article “Korean Conjunctions List: Essential Korean Conjunctions” to learn more about grammatical structures. You can also check out some other pages on KoreanClass101.com:

Someone Writing in a Notebook to Practice Vocabulary

3 – Learning Vocabulary Takes Time = Difficult

If the language has so many simple elements, why is Korean considered hard to learn by so many people? 

Well, many Korean words are borrowed from Chinese, which means that Korean pronunciation is also similar to that of Chinese. Have a look at these vocabulary words: 

  • 학교 (hakgyo) – “school”
  • 과학 (gwahak) – “science”
  • 학생 (hakseang) – “student”
  • 학원 (hagwon) – “academy”

Did you notice anything? 학 (hak) means “education” or “learning,” and it appears in several words that are related to education. This concept is very similar to what happens in Chinese.

Let’s have a look at a different example:

  • 교사 (gyosa) – “teacher”
  • 교과서 (gyogwaseo) – “textbook”
  • 교육장 (gyoyukjang) – “the superintendent of education”
  • 교무실 (gyomusil) – “teacher’s room”
  • 교인 (gyoin) – “believer”

As you may have noticed already, 교 (gyo) means “teaching,” and it appears in words that relate to teaching. 교 (gyo) is from the Chinese characters 敎.

Many compound Korean words are derived from Chinese, so if you know Chinese characters, it will be a lot easier for you to recognize these single-syllable words. If you don’t know Chinese, it’s okay. Once you start learning Korean, you’ll begin to notice these patterns naturally. 

Here are some recommended pages for you:

Practice Your Korean with Native Speakers

4. Advice for New Korean-Learners

The best way to improve your Korean is to surround yourself with native speakers. That’s why people sometimes go abroad and spend many years learning their target language. 

The good news is that it’s not the only way. You can learn and become fluent in a language by simply dedicating your time and effort to doing so. 

There are many resources on the internet that you can use to maximize your study time. We recommend reading various websites, blogs, or magazines in Korean or watching Korean videos on Netflix or YouTube. 

Also, try to make friends with native Korean-speakers. One of the best ways to make friends and learn the language is by offering a language exchange. And this way, you’ll not only learn the Korean language, but also some interesting cultural insights. 

Here are a few pages you can see for more useful information:

Korean Tiger

5. Why is KoreanClass101 Great for Learning Korean?

KoreanClass101 provides many free Korean study materials for Korean-learners at every level, so please check out our website! 

You’ll be able to study at your own pace, and if you want to learn Korean from a native speaker, you can also upgrade your account for access to our MyTeacher program. New lessons and vocabulary lists are posted weekly, so you’ll be able to study new words every day! There are many things that you can do on our website for free, so don’t forget to sign up for KoreanClass101 today and enjoy learning the Korean language. 

Do you think that Korean is difficult to learn? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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The 5 Most Common Mistakes Korean Learners Make

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Learning a new language isn’t easy; it takes time and effort. Many Korean learners are too afraid to start speaking Korean because they’re scared of making mistakes. But it’s important to understand that you can’t improve your Korean if you don’t keep trying. It’s okay to make mistakes—it’s how you become better at Korean! 

Today, we’ll introduce the five most common mistakes Korean learners make. We’ll focus on Korean language mistakes in grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. In addition, we’ll give you information on how you can improve your Korean and make fewer mistakes.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Korean Pronunciation Mistakes – 합니다 (hamnida) and 같이 (gachi)
  2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes – 이 (i) / 가 (ga) and 은 (eun) /는 (neun)
  3. Homophones- 낳다 (nata) vs. 낫다 (natda) vs. 낮다 (natda)
  4. Korean Grammar Mistakes – Verb Stem + (는)구나 ([neun]guna)
  5. Other Mistakes – 생일 (saengil) vs. 생신 (saengsin)
  6. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Korean

1. Korean Pronunciation Mistakes – 합니다 (hamnida) and 같이 (gachi)

The two most common Korean mistakes regarding pronunciation are to mispronounce the words 합니다 (hamnida) and 같이 (gachi). Keep reading to learn how to avoid making these mistakes!

합니다 (hamnida)

Many Korean learners pronounce 합니다 (hamnida) as “hap-ni-da.” However, when you listen closely to native speakers, it’s pronounced “ham-ni-da.” It may sound strange to you because it sounds like 함니다 (hamnida), though this is incorrect. 

Just remember that this is a special case where you need to memorize the correct pronunciation. And pronouncing it correctly will make your life a lot easier. Why? Try saying “hap-ni-da” and “ham-ni-da.” Did you notice that “hamnida” is a lot easier and faster to say? 

같이 (gachi)

Now let’s look at the romanization of 같이 (gachi). Do you know what this word means? That’s right, it means “together.” 

While reading each of the following words and trying to pronounce them, it will sound like “gat-ee.” However, the correct way to pronounce this word is “ga-chi.”

Let’s practice its pronunciation with these two sentences. 


Kid Struggling with His Korean Homework

2. Vocabulary Word Mistakes – 이 (i) / 가 (ga) and 은 (eun) /는 (neun)

Korean learners struggle to understand Korean particles because many of these particles do not translate directly to English. Let’s take a look at the subject markers 이 (i) and 가 (ga) and the topic markers 은 (eun) and 는 (neun).

If you want to know when you should use a subject marker versus a topic marker in a sentence, think of the topic markers (eun/neun) as meaning “as far” or “when it comes to.” This will help you construct Korean sentences. 

If the sentence makes sense in your head when you plug in “as far” or “when it comes to,” then use the topic marker. If not, then use the subject marker.

Examples: 

  • 겨울에는 딸기가 최고지. 
    Gyeoureneun ttalgiga choegoji.
    “When it comes to winter, strawberries are the best.”
  • 저는… 
    jeoneun…
    “as for me…”

Here are a couple of great resources on KoreanClass101.com to help you better understand how to use topic marking particles:


3. Homophones- 낳다 (nata) vs. 낫다 (natda) vs. 낮다 (natda)

Other common mistakes in Korean have to do with using the wrong word because it sounds similar to another one. These three words sound very similar, and a lot of Korean learners struggle to choose the right word. In fact, even native Korean speakers struggle to differentiate between 낳다 (nata) and 낫다 (natda). So let’s take a look at each word and learn when to use them. 

낳다 (nata) vs. 낫다 (natda) vs. 낮다 (natda)

Korean wordsRomanizationMeaning
낳다nata“To give birth”
낫다natda“To recover from something”
낮다natda“To be low”

Most people are able to differentiate between 낫다 (natda) and 낮다 (natda) without much of a problem. However, a lot of people—even native speakers—get confused when it comes to 낳다 (nata) and 낫다 (natda). 

The best way to remember is this: When you want to say “someone gave birth,” then the 받침 (badchim) has to be the last 받침 (badchim) in the order, which is ㅎ. 

Examples:

  • 다리의 상처가 아직 낫지 않았어.
    Dariui sangcheoga ajik natji anasseo.
    “The wound on my leg is not healed yet.”
  •  수잔은 어젯밤에 딸을 낳았다.
    Sujaneun eojetbame ttareul naatda.
    “Susan gave birth to a daughter last night.”

Practice:

Let’s say that your friend got into an accident and needs to stay in the hospital for a few days. You want to write “Get well soon ” in Korean. Which of these should you write? 

  • 빨리 낫길 바래. (Ppalli natgil barae.
  • 빨리 낳길 바래. (Ppalli nakil barae.)

The answer is: 빨리 낫길 바래. (Ppalli natgil barae.)

Many young Koreans make mistakes with these words, so I hope you don’t make the same mistakes!

A Korean Man Covering His Mouth with Both Hands

Oops, I keep making the same mistakes again

4. Korean Grammar Mistakes – Verb Stem + (는)구나 ([neun]guna)

Let’s say that you and your friend are trying to solve mathematical questions. While marking your friend’s paper, you notice that your friend made a lot of the same mistakes over and over. How do you say “You just made a mistake again” in this situation? 

When you’re certain about what you’re saying, there’s a grammatical structure that you need to learn. 

Grammar rule:

Verb Stem + (는)구나 ([neun]guna) establishes a speaker’s certainty.

Rule #1: We attach 구나 (guna) to the past verb stem.
Rule #2: We attach 는구나 (neunguna) to the present verb stem.

Let’s do some exercises: 

Do you know the meaning of 틀렸다 (teullyeotda)? It means “was wrong” or “made a mistake.” To say “(You) made a mistake,” you need to remove 다 (da) and attach 구나 (guna). The whole sentence becomes: 너 틀렸구나 (teulryeottguna). 

Here’s another example:

걸렸다 (geollyeotda) means “to be busted.” To say “(You) are busted,” remove 다 (da) and attach 구나 (guna). The whole sentence becomes: (너) 걸렸구나! ([Neo] geollyeotguna!). This expression is commonly used among friends. 

Examples:

  • 이번에 네 계산은 틀렸구나! 
    틀렸 (teullyeot) + 구나 (guna) => 틀렸구나 (teullyeotguna)
    Ibeone ne gyesaneun teullyeotguna!
    “Your calculations are off this time!”
  • 너 도둑질하다가 걸렸구나! 
    걸렸 (geollyeot) + 구나 (guna) => 걸렸구나 (geollyeotguna)
    Neo dodukjilhadaga geollyeotguna!
    “You got caught while you were stealing something!”

We also use it with the pattern: noun + 이구나 (iguna), as in 팀이구나! (Timiguna!) meaning “You are Tim!”

Example:

  • 존이구나! 
    존 (Jon) + 이구나 (iguna) => 존이구나 (Joniguna)
    Joniguna!
    “You are John!”

There’s another very similar expression: VST + 군(요)’ (gun[yo]). It also expresses the speaker’s certainty, but we use it in formal situations.

Example: 

  • 그렇군요. 알겠습니다. 
    그렇다 (geureota) + 군요 (gunyo) => 그렇군요 (geureokunyo)
    Geureokunyo. Algetseumnida.
    “I see. I understand.”
A Cupcake with a Sparkler on Top

Happy birthday, Grandma!

5. Other Mistakes – 생일 (saengil) vs. 생신 (saengsin

Social rank is very important in Korean culture. As a result, it’s deeply ingrained in the Korean language. 

You’ve already studied the different politeness levels of speech in Korean. In this section, we’ll focus on specific words you should use depending on social rank. Koreans use different words for people of varying social ranks, and depending on who you’re talking to, there are many words for expressing respect. 

Let’s take a look at the word “birthday.” You’ve probably learned that it’s 생일 (saengil) in Korean. But did you know that there’s another word for “birthday” that you should use for people who are older than you or of a higher rank? 

Let’s say that you want to say “happy birthday” to your mother. The polite form of 생일 (sangil) is 생신 (sangsin); therefore, 생신 축하드립니다. (Saengsin chukadeurimnida.) is the correct way to wish your mother a happy birthday.

Let’s take a look at different ways to wish someone a happy birthday:

  • [To your friends] 축하해! (Chukahae!) – “Congratulations!”
  • [To your friends] 생일 축하해! (Saengil chukahae!) – “Happy birthday!”
  • [To elders] 생신 축하드립니다. (Saengsin chukadeurimnida.) – “Happy birthday!”
  • [Casual-formal] 생신 축하드려요. (Saengsin chukadeuryeoyo.) – “Happy birthday!”

If you’re not familiar with the different levels of politeness in Korean, check out “Polite, Conversational Korean for Beginners.” It includes 130 free lessons that will teach you how to introduce yourself in a polite and casual way to native speakers. 

KoreanClass101 also has a blog post that dives into different honorific titles. Check out “Honorific Titles: Oppa, Unni, Hyung, Nuna & More” to understand different ways you can address someone, and to gain some cultural insights.

A Man Journaling on a Bus

Study at your own pace with KoreanClass101

6. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Korean

Being fluent in a language takes time and requires your long-term effort. Most language-learners feel embarrassed when they make mistakes, but it’s important to understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Also, native speakers are more than happy to correct your mistakes, so be brave! 

In this article, we looked at five of the most common mistakes Korean learners make. Want to read more about how to learn Korean faster? Here are three pages that you can check out in your spare time: 

Have you recently made Korean mistakes? Share your story and what kind of Korean mistake you made. It will help us understand more about what kind of Korean mistakes people make, and it will also help other Korean learners.

Good luck with your Korean studies. Feel free to check out our website, KoreanClass101.com, for more free study materials and more!

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Korean Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Korean

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Korean! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Korean keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Korean Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Korean
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Korean
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Korean on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Korean Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Korean Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Korean

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Korean

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Korean language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Korean websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Korean teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Korean

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Korean. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Korean, so all text will appear in Korean. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Korean on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Korean language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

1. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language.

2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Korean.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as 한국어 with the note “language pack available.”

3. Click on “한국어” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.

4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Korean- 한국어.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Korean.”

4. Expand the option of “Korean” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Korean.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “2-Set Korean,” and add the “2-Set Korean” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Korean Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Korean will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Korean keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “2-Set Korean” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “한국어” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Korean Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Korean can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Korean keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

On Windows 8 Keyboard

  1. Keep in mind that you’ll find vowels on the right of your keyboard, and consonants will be on the left side. To create double consonants, press the Shift key while typing the single consonant. (Example, if you would like ot type ㅆ, press ㅅ+Shift).
  2. This will cause “ENG” to be changed to ‘한’ (or ‘KOR”), and another icon (marked “A”) will appear simultaneously to the left of the language sign.
  3. When you want to type Korean, hit the ALT key on the right side of your keyboard. (There are two ALT keys on the keyboard, however, only the right one works for this purpose.)
  4. Hitting the ALT key will make the status icon change to a Korean character ‘가’ (ga). Once this happens, you’ll be able to start typing in Korean. To toggle between Korean and English, simply hit the Right ALT key at any time.
  5. Vowels are on the right side of the keyboard, and consonants on the left. To create double consonants, press the Shift key while typing the single consonant. (Example, if you would like ot type ㅆ, press ㅅ+Shift).

On IOS Keyboard

  1. On your Mac, click on the flag image at the top right of your screen, and choose 한 (2-Set Korean). In the 2-Set Korean Keyboard, keep in mind that you’ll find vowels on the right of your keyboard, and consonants will be on the left side. This is its default setting for macOS Hangul.
  2. To create double consonants, press the Shift key while typing the single consonant. (Example, if you would like to type ㅆ, press “Shift” + “ㅅ.”

2- Mobile Phones

  1. Open any app that allows typing. A few good options are Messages, Google Widget, or Chrome.
  2. Tap the typing area. This opens the keyboard.
  3. For IOS, tap and hold the Globe key. It’s located at the left of the spacebar. The “Keyboard Settings” option and a list of keyboards will appear. Select the “Korean” keyboard. This will change the keyboard from its default language setting to Korean. Note that this menu can be used to toggle between various language keyboards you may have installed.
  4. For Android, tap the Keyboard Settings icon near the bottom of the keyboard. If you don’t see the gear, you may have to long-press a different key to make it appear. Tap “Add Keyboard” and choose “Korean” from the list. Select your desired layout.
    Afterward, tap the typing area and hold the Globe key. It’s in the bottom row of keys. A list of installed keyboards will appear. Tap “Korean.” The keyboard is now switched to Korean.

7. How to Practice Typing Korean

As you probably know by now, learning Korean is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Korean typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a KoreanClass101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Korean keyboard to do this!

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Describe Your Family in Korean: “Brother” in Korean and More

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People always talk about their family when it comes to self-introductions. Koreans value family a lot, and we love talking about our family. In this blog, we’ll teach you many useful phrases to describe your family, as well as essential family titles for you to study to expand your vocabulary skills. After reading this article, you should have no trouble talking about your brother in Korean, or letting people know about your family as a whole.

We’ll also go a little bit into family culture in Korean countries, so that you have a better idea of what to expect from Korean families!

Ready to learn how to describe family in Korean? Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  1. Talking About How Many are in Your Family
  2. Talking About Your Siblings
  3. Talking About Significant Others & Children
  4. Korean Endearment Terms
  5. Korean Quotes About Family
  6. Korean Titles & Verbs Related to Family
  7. Have a Question? KoreanClass101 Can Help You

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1. Talking About How Many are in Your Family

Family Words

Knowing how to talk about your family members in Korean oftentimes begins with information on how many members there are. Here are some common ways to ask and answer.

1- “How many are there in your family?”

This is a common question about family. To ask how many family members someone has, it’s 가족이 몇 명이에요? (gajogi myeot myeongieyo?) in Korean. There are many ways to ask this question:

  1. 가족이 모두 몇 명이에요? (Formal)
    Gajogi modu myeot myeongieyo?
    “How many family members are there in total?”
  2. 가족이 모두 몇 명이야? (Informal)
    Gajogi modu myeot myeongiya?
    “How many family members are there in total?”
  3. 가족이 몇 분이세요? (Formal)
    Gajogi myeot buniseyo?
    “How many family members do you have?”
  4. 가족이 몇 명입니까? (Formal)
    Gajogi myeot myeongimnikka?
    “How many family members do you have?”
  5. 가족이 몇 명이야? (Informal)
    Gajogi myeot myeongiya?
    “How many members in your family?”

All of these family phrases in Korean mean the same thing. The only difference is that some are used in formal settings, and others in informal settings.

2- “There are [number] in my family.”

Let’s say that you have four people in your family. To say “There are four people in my family,” in Korean, you should say: 우리 가족은 네 명이에요 (Uri gajogeun ne myeong iyeyo). Alternatively, you can say, 가족은 모두 ~ 명 입니다. (gajogeun modu ~ myeong imnida.), meaning “There are ~ family members in total.”

KoreanClass101 has many lessons about counting numbers in Korean, so feel free to check out our website at any time.

Example:

  • A: 가족이 몇 명입니까?
    A: Gajogi myeot myeongimnikka?
    A: “How many family members do you have?”

    B: 우리 가족은 세 명이에요.
    B: Uri gajogeun se myeongieyo.
    B: “There are three members in my family.”

  • A: 가족이 모두 몇 명이야?
    A: Gajogi modu myeot myeongiya?
    A: “How many are there in your family?”

    B: 우리 집? 아빠, 엄마, 언니 있으니깐, 총 네 명있어.
    B: Uri jip? Appa, eomma, eonni isseunikkan, chong ne myeongisseo.
    B: “My house? There’s dad, mom, and a younger sister, so there are four.”

Two Kids Playing Together

2. Talking About Your Siblings

1- “I have siblings.” and “I am an only child.”

To ask someone whether he or she has siblings, ask them with the phrase 형제 자매가 있어요? (hyeongje jamaega isseoyo?), direct translation being “Do you have brothers and sisters?” Also, these days, we slightly shorten the sentence and we say 형제 있어요? (Hyeongje isseoyo?). The direct translation of this phrase also means “Do you have siblings?”

To say that you have a number of siblings, you can say 형제 자매가 있어요 (Hyeongje jamaega isseoyo.) in Korean. It means “I have brothers and sisters.”

Let’s have a look at a number of useful phrases to say:

  1. 언니 한 명이 있어요.
    Eonni han myeongi isseoyo.
    “I have an older sister.”
  2. 남동생 두 명이 있어요.
    Namdongsaeng du myeongi isseoyo.
    “I have two younger brothers.”
  3. 언니 한 명과 오빠 한 명이 있어요.
    Eonni han myeonggwa oppa han myeongi isseoyo.
    “I have an older sister and an older brother.”
  4. 저는 외동딸이에요.
    Jeoneun oedongttarieyo.
    “I am an only child (girl).”

More examples:

  • 저는 장남이예요.
    Jeoneun jangnamiyeyo.
    “I am the oldest son.”
  • 저는 둘째예요.
    Jeoneun duljjaeyeyo
    “I am the second oldest.”
  • 저는 막내예요.
    Jeoneun mangnaeyeyo.
    “I am the youngest.”

Vocabulary List for Siblings

Here are some useful Korean family terms related to siblings!

Korean Romanization Translation
장남 (첫째아들) jangnam (cheotjjaeadeul) “oldest son”
장녀 (첫째 딸) jangnyeo (cheotjjae ttal) “oldest daughter”
둘째 아들 duljjae adeul “second son”
둘째 딸 duljjae ttal “second daughter”
막내아들 mangnaeadeul “youngest son”
막내딸 mangnaettal “youngest daughter”
외아들 oeadeul “only child (male)”
외동딸 oedongttal “only child (female)”
형제 hyeongje “brothers”
자매 jamae “sisters”
언니 eonni “older sister” (from a female sibling)
누나 nuna “older sister” (from a male sibling)
여동생 yeodongsaeng “younger sister”
오빠 oppa “older brother” (from a female sibling)
hyeong “older brother” (from a male sibling)
남동생 namdongsaeng “younger brother”
쌍둥이 ssangdungi “twins”

2- “My sister is younger/older than me.”

To say that one of your siblings is younger than you, the word to describe “younger” is 어리다 (eorida) in Korean. To change the dictionary form of this word, simply change it to 어려요 (eoryeoyo). On the other hand, to say that your sibling is older than you, the word to describe “older” is 많다 (manta) in Korean, and changes to 많아요 (manayo) in spoken form.

Examples:

  • 제 여동생은 저보다 한 살 어려요.
    Je yeodongsaengeun jeoboda han sal eoryeoyo.
    “My younger sister is one year younger than me.”
  • 제 누나는 저보다 열 살 많아요.
    Je nunaneun jeoboda yeol sal manayo.
    “My older sister is ten years older than me.”

Useful Vocabulary List to Describe Age Differences

* Click on the word in the Romanization column to listen to the pronunciation.

Korean Romanization Translation
어리다 eorida “younger”
많다 manta “older”
~살 ~sal “~ years old”
동갑 donggap “same age”

A Couple Holding Hands

3. Talking About Significant Others & Children

Married, or in a serious relationship? Be sure to study these family words in Korean and the relevant phrases, so that you can talk about your beloved and family life.

1- “I have a husband/wife.” and “I have a daughter/son.”

If you’re married and have a family, you need to know how to say how many kids you have, too. There are many words to describe your own children. The most common words to say “son” and “daughter” are 아들 (adeul) and 딸 (ttal), respectively.

To say “I have a son,” it’s 저는 아들 한 명이 있습니다 (Jeoneun adeul han myeongi itseumnida). And “I have a daughter,” is 저는 딸 한 명이 있습니다 (Jeoneun ttal han myeongi itseumnida). Let’s have a look at different phrases:

  1. 저는 아들 한 명하고 딸 한 명이 있습니다.
    Jeoneun adeul han myeonghago ttal han myeongi itseumnida.
    “I have a son and a daughter.”
  2. 아들과 딸이 있습니다.
    Adeulgwa ttari itseumnida.
    “I have a son and a daughter.”
  3. 자식은 없습니다.
    Jasigeun eopseumnida.
    “I have no children.”

Useful Vocabulary List for Married Couples

* Click on the word in the Romanization column to listen to the pronunciation.

Korean Romanization Translation
남편 nampyeon “husband”
아내 anae “wife”
파트너 pateuneo “partner”
약혼자 yakonja “fiancé” (referring to a male)
약혼녀 yakonnyeo “fiancé” (referring to a female)
피앙세 piangse “fiancé”
아들 adeul “son”
ttal “daughter”
자식 jasik “Sons and daughters”
아이 ai “child”
손자 sonja “grandson”
손녀 sonnyeo “granddaughter”

More Examples:

  • A: 결혼 하셨어요?
    A: Gyeolhon hasyeosseoyo?
    A: “Are you married?”

    B: 네, 결혼했어요. 집에 아들과 딸이 있어요.
    B: Ne, gyeolhonhaesseoyo. jibe adeulgwa ttari isseoyo.
    B: “Yes, I am married. I have a son and a daughter.”

2- “I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.”

People usually ask a question like 지금 만나고 있는 사람 있니? (Jigeum mannago inneun saram inni?), which means “Are you seeing anyone at the moment?” Another common question is 남자친구/여자친구 있니? (Namjachingu/yeojachingu inni?), or “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”

To answer that you’re seeing someone, follow the grammatical order of “I have a brother.” To say “I have a boyfriend,” just add 남자친구 (namjachingu) followed by 있어요 (isseoyo).

If you’re not seeing anyone, but don’t want to share too much information, you can simply say 만나고 있는 사람 없어요 (Mannago inneun saram eopseoyo), which means “I’m not seeing anyone.” Another option is 아니요, 없어요 (Aniyo, eopseoyo), which literally means “No, I don’t have.”

The general conversation goes like this:

  • 아버지: 지금 만나고 있는 사람 있냐?
    Abeoji: Jigeum mannago inneun saram innya?
    Father: “Are you seeing anyone at the moment?”

    수미: 아니요. 없어요.
    Sumi: Aniyo. Eopseoyo.
    Sumi: “No, I’m not.”

Vocabulary List for Girlfriends and Boyfriends

* Click on the word in the Romanization column to listen to the pronunciation.

Korean Romanization Translation
애인 aein “lover,” “girlfriend,” “boyfriend”
남자친구 namjachingu “boyfriend”
남친 namchin “boyfriend” (slang)
여자친구 yeojachingu “girlfriend”
여친 yeochin “girlfriend” (slang)

More Examples:

  • A: 애인있어요?
    A: Aeinisseoyo?
    A: “Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?”

    B: 애인있어요.
    B: Aeinisseoyo.
    B: “I do.”

A Silhouette of a Family

4. Korean Endearment Terms

1. “Hey baby,” and “My love.”

Couples in some countries have endearment terms for each other, like “baby.” Korea has some endearment terms like that too. The most common word is 자기야 (jagiya) which means “sweetie” or “baby.” You’ll hear couples and spouses call each other by this word. Also, young people tend to create their own secret endearment terms for each other; others make nicknames, too.

Vocabulary List for Endearment Terms

* Click on the word in the Romanization column to listen to the pronunciation.

Korean Romanization Translation
자기야 jagiya “sweetie/baby”
내 사랑 nae sarang “my love”
오빠 oppa “honey” (if bf is older)
여보 yeobo “darling” (only for married couples)

Examples:

  • A: 자기야.
    A: Jagiya.
    A: “Hey sweetie.”

    B: 응, 왜불렀어?
    B: Eung, waebulleosseo?
    B: “Yes, did you call me?”

5. Korean Quotes About Family

Family Quotes

Let’s look at some Korean phrases about family.

  • 당신은 가족을 선택하지 않는다. 당신이 가족에게 그런 것 처럼 가족은 당신에게 하느님이 주신 선물이다.
    Dangsineun gajogeul seontaekaji anneunda. Dangsini gajogege geureon geot cheoreom gajogeun dangsinege haneunimi jusin seonmurida.
    “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
  • 가정에서 행복하지 않으면 다른 어디에서도 행복할 수 없다.
    Gajeongeseo haengbokaji aneumyeon dareun eodieseodo haengbokal su eopda.
    “If you’re not happy at home, you’re not happy anywhere else.”
  • 집 같은 곳은 없다.
    Jip gateun goseun eopda.
    “There is no place like home.”

Check out more quotes about family at “Top 10 Quotes about Family” on our website. Want to challenge yourself and try reading advanced Korean proverbs? Check out this article to learn about the complexity of Korean family relationships.

6. Korean Titles & Verbs Related to Family

Parents Phrases

Did you know that Korea has some of the most complicated titles for family? It’s so complicated that sometimes even Koreans struggle to remember all the titles. But don’t worry; you don’t need to memorize all the titles. Just try to memorize the most important Korean family titles, since they’re used every day.

1- Korean Family Titles

Korean Romanization Translation
조부모 jobumo “grandparents”
할머니 halmeoni “grandmother”
할아버지 harabeoji “grandfather”
부모님 bumonim “parents”
어머니 eomeoni “mother”
아버지 abeoji “father”
친척 chincheok “relative”
삼촌 samchon “uncle”
숙모 sungmo “aunt”
조카 joka “niece”
사촌 sachon “cousin”

2. Korean Verbs Related to Family

Let’s learn some important verbs that are commonly used when it comes to family.

Korean Romanization Translation
태어나다 taeeonada “to be born”
죽다 jukda “to die”
결혼하다 gyeolhonhada “to marry”
이혼하다 ihonhada “to divorce”
입양되다 ibyangdoeda “to be adopted”
입양하다 ibyanghada “to adopt”
낳다 nata “to give birth”
사랑하다 saranghada “to love”

7. Have a Question? KoreanClass101 Can Help You

What do you think about Korean family culture in Korea? How is it different from your country? Let us know in the comments!

For more family-related study materials, visit us at KoreanClass101.com. We truly believe that language-learning should be both fun and informative, and we’re here for you with motivation to study the Korean language.

If you want to learn more about the Korean family, such as the most popular Korean family names and so on, check out this page on Wikipedia too. We hope that you took away something valuable from this article, and that you’ll keep using KoreanClass101 for all your Korean-learning needs!

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