Sunday, 10 July 2016

Repost - Self Guide to learn Korean.

Credit to owner -

I have prepared a personal guide on how to self study Korean! So, if you are interested in learning Korean, and have no idea where to start, give this a read and hopefully it should give you some encouragement!
I should hopefully keep this guide updated. Updated on: 160521
Warning: LONG POST

Getting Started

I think the first thing that you need to establish is the reason you want to learn a new language. What is your motivation? This is important, especially with self study, since you might occasionally hit a brick wall, or often at times feel like you can’t succeed or there will be occasions where you feel like giving up all together. So it’s important to never lose sight of your motivations, keep reminding yourself and push yourself forward! You can do it!
I also think it’s really important to understand what kind of a learner you are. This is important so you can preplan and create a realistic schedule. It’s important to adjust everything accordingly, since you might be more prone to random energy spikes than long methodical study sessions. It’s also useful to know how you learn best, do you work best with audio, by reading, or by practice? It’s vital to focus on your strengths and the most exciting thing is that you have the ability to completely adapt any information to a style that suits you! There are many resources out there, so understand which resources you will feel best work for you. Once you understand your limits and boundaries, you’ll be ready to really begin your language journey! 
Here is some information about study:

Independant Study

I think one of the biggest problems with independent study is that there’s far too much leeway. Flexibility is a great thing, you’ll always have the opportunity to study at your own pace, and learn things when you want to rather than have the language forced down your throat! But the difficulty with so much independence is that it’s very difficult to stay on task, and it’s very easy to fall behind.
The trick is to create or follow a curriculum like you would in a class. Following a guideline will help keep you motivated, encouraged, and on track! Learning random pieces of information is handy, and often very useful, but if you do this too often - you’ll end up with too many balloons and not enough string…
It’s crucial to stay organised. Make notes, have calendars and to-do lists. Check out my post on how to stay organised for more information.
Independent study is quite difficult for many people to really stick to. You have an abundance of freedom, and whilst it’s totally stress free - it’s easy to get lost or sidetracked, which makes it difficult to stay focused. This again stems down to the lack of a study plan.
Have a study plan and stick to it diligently. The absence of meeting deadlines and preparing for exams is really cool, but the serenity has the habit of dragging your motivation down with it! Even though I recommend to never push yourself too hard, becoming too comfortable is a bad thing - which is exactly why I also suggest to venture out of your comfort zone occasionally!
A good way to help keep you on track is to create challenges and objectives. Even though you don’t have class examinations, make one for yourself! Set aside a date, and write down every grammar construct or vocabulary list that you want to know. Use that date as a “mock exam” and really strive to achieve it! It can be a vocabulary test, or reading a small passage of text under timed conditions. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you can focus on working towards this goal.
I also think that it’s important to find a textbook or website that really suits you. Find a learning resource that you understand and find encouraging - some resources have the habit of over complicating everything… Sometimes just having something explained really well once is better than reading an overcomplicated explanation a thousand times.
Also, a mistake that I personally think people make is quantity over quality… Don’t learn a profuse amount of information if you know you’re not even understanding it, because it’s most likely that you will just end up forgetting it. Instead, take the time to really learn one thing well so that you will be able to apply the information in future scenarios. Create a solid foundation.
Don’t overload yourself with new information, be strategic about it. 

Where to Begin

As with any language, I feel as though it’s extremely important to gain an understanding as to how the language is used. Before delving into multiple books and grammar lessons, it’s important to soak up the way a new language sounds and how it’s used in everyday context. Even a baby is exposed to their native language for years before they dabble in the basics.
So with this in mind, try watching some Korean TV shows, or listen to Kpop. (If these aren’t already your reason for wanting to learn such a beautiful language!) However, if you’re a Kpop fan, I’d recommend watching a few dramas, just to recognise how words are spoken in normal conversation, and vice versa! So if you’re a Korean drama enthusiast, try listening to Kpop if you haven’t already.
You’d be amazed at how quickly you will instinctively pick up basic words or phrases, before you even understand the alphabet!
I want to emphasise how although this isn’t an essential step, (because I know a lot of you will be itching to get started) I do believe that having a small understanding of the spoken language first, greatly reduces any confusion when diving into grammar, pronunciation and the alphabet.
The key to learning any language is immersion! The best way to learn it is to surround yourself with it as much as possible! Try following your favourite Korean celebrities on Twitter or Instagram. It’s amazing how much you can learn from social media! Especially if you try following news stations such as KBS or MBC, it will give you some fresh Korean on your dash regularly. Listen to Radio stations, such as KBS Cool Fm, or KBS 1 for talk and news, or even MBC Radio. There are many stations to listen to! Even Podcasts are a great resource, listen to native Korean speakers discuss book reviews, or talk about film. It’s a great way to immerse yourself within the language.


From there, I would recommend learning Hangul. Really delve into the alphabet and its quirks! Understand the differences between written Hangul and typed Hangul, perhaps even try to recognise different fonts until you fully have an appreciation for its styles; familiarising yourself completely. This is useful for those occasions you might browse Korean websites or online newspapers that use different fonts, since it will greatly reduce any surprises!
Learn and understand how to read Korean properly, try to recognise which patterns are cause for speech irregularities. For example:
  • T-stops
  • ᄉ followed by ᄒ
  • “S” to “SH” sound with ᄉ
  • “L” and “R” sound for ᄅ
  • ᄅ and ᄂ combinations
  • Silent 겹받침 (double consonant)
  • Random CH sound 
  • Soft 하다
  • Hard 하다 
  • Shift to hard sound after and before ᄒ
I would also highly recommend learning the pronunciation correctly, rather than relying on romanisation. Romanisation is not always 100% accurate and can leave words feeling choppy… I personally don’t think that romanisation is necessary after you’ve grasped a basic appreciation for how Hangul characters sound. Quite often, it seems that learners can find romanisation restrictive since it can actually inhibit proper pronunciation and hinder reading fluency.
By relying on romanisation alone, you’ll also find that it can often hold you back from learning new vocabulary, making use of brilliant resources, or even visiting South Korea itself! It’s best to first grasp a solid understanding of the alphabet and how to read/speak it before you decide to jump straight into grammar!

Phrases and Basics

Remember, bitesized pieces is the key! So gradually ease yourself into the language, taking it step by step.
  • I’d recommend learning a couple basic phrases, such as how to introduce yourself, your name, age etc.
  • Understand how Korean sentence structure works (where verbs are placed, where the subject goes etc.)
  • Learn about the different sentence types (declarativeinterrogative,imperative, and propositive.)
  • Understand the different formalities and when to use them (formal polite,informal polite, and informal plain.)
Then I suggest jumping into:
Then you should definitely delve into grammar!


It’s important to take a steady approach to grammar, never overwhelm yourself but also don’t be afraid to occasionally push past your comfort zone! Follow a reasonable curriculum and try to stick to it whilst setting yourself realistic goals and challenges.
The Talk to me in Korean and Korean from Zero curriculum both have a well paced and well structured route for you to follow. So try taking a look at how their lessons advance and see if it suits you. Of course, feel free to branch outside of these curriculums but at least this way you know you have a good guide to fall back on if you start to get lost or overwhelmed!
Just try to take their lead, and as you advance through their lessons, try to learn about the topic more in depth through other resources. Learn from as many different resources as you can because it will definitely help improve your comprehension and it will give you a broader insight. So long as you have a guideline, you should manage just fine.

But here are some grammar constructions I’d recommend learning:

Please understand that this is a personal curriculum plan, and only meant as an aid for self study. If you are required to meet a specific standard, I’d suggest investing in a Topik guide or professional equivalent in which you’ll be correctly shown grammar appropriate to a particular level.
  • 이다 (to be)
  • 있다 (to exist)
  • A/V -(스)ㅂ니다 (present tense)
  • A/V-아/어요 (present tense)
  • A/V-았/었어요 (past tense)
  • V-(으)ㄹ 거예요 (future tense)
  • V-고 있다 (progressive tense)
  • A/V-았/었었어요 (past perfect tense)
  • 안 A/V-아/어요 (A/V-지 않아요) (negative expressions)
  • 못 V-아/어요 (V-지 못해요) (negative expressions)
And then the PARTICLES (all or most of them) including:
  • 이/가
  • 은/는
  • 을/를
  • 와/과, (이)랑, 하고
  • 에/에서
  • 에서/까지, 부터/까지
  • 에게/한테
  • 밖에
  • (으)로
  • (이)나
  • 처럼, 같이
  • 보다
  • 마다
Then I would suggest you progress and learn such things as:
  • N 전에, V-기 전에
  • N 후에, V-(으)ㄴ 후에
  • V-고 나서
  • V-아/어서
  • N 때, A/V-(으)ㄹ 때
  • V-(으)면서
  • N 중, V-는 중
  • V-자마자
  • N 동안, V-는 동안
  • V-(으)ㄴ 지
  • A/V-고
  • V-거나
  • A/V-지만
  • A/V-(으)ㄴ/는데
  • A/V-겠어요
  • V-(으)ㄹ래요
  • V-(으)ㄹ까요?
  • V-(으)ㅂ시다
  • V-(으)시겠어요?
  • V-(으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다
  • V-(으)ㄹ 줄 알다/모르다
  • A/V-(으)면
  • V-(으)려면
  • A/V-아/어도
  • A/V-아/어서
  • A/V-(으)니까
  • N 때문에, A/V-기 때문에
  • V-아/어 주세요, V-아/어 주시겠어요?
  • V-아/어 줄게요, V-아/어 줄까요?
  • V-(으)세요
  • V-지 마세요
  • A/V-아/어야 되다/하다
  • A/V-아/어도 되다
  • A/V-(으)면 안 되다
  • A/V-지 않아도 되다 (안 A/V-아/어도 되다)
  • V-고 싶다
  • A/V-았/었으면 좋겠다
  • V-아/어보다
  • V-(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다
  • A/V-(으)ㄴ/는지
  • V-는 데 걸리다/들다
  • A/V-지요?
  • V-아/어보다
  • V-(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다
  • -아/어 보이다
  • -(으)ㄴ/는 모양이다
  • -(으)ㄹ 텐데
  • -(으)ㄹ 테니까
  • -(으)ㄹ걸요
  • -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 줄 몰랐다[알았다]
  • -(으)ㄹ지도 모르다
  • -다고요?
  • -다고 하던데
  • -다면서요?
  • -다니요?
  • -거든요
  • -잖아요
  • -느라고
  • -는 바람에
  • -(으)ㄴ/는 탓에
  • -고 해서
  • -(으)ㄹ까 봐
But of course, grammar is essentially pointless, unless you develop a strong foundation of vocabulary. So it’s very important to continuously improve and update your vocabulary as often as possible!

Practice makes perfect

I have personally found that the quickest way to learn, is applying everything you know into use! To further emphasise me previous point, try to surround yourself with the language as much as possible! It’s also an incredibly motivating experience to talk to native speakers (although it might not be within everybody’s comfort zone) but it really has the benefit of throwing you into the deep end; providing you with the confidence to learn, adapt and grow extremely quickly as you put your knowledge to use! Plus, it’s very rewarding to meet new people, make new friends and learn things you can’t learn from a website! HelloTalk is the best app for this, from my personal experience.
Here are some other language exchange resources I recommend checking out:
  • HiNative app
  • HelloTalk app


The biggest mistake I think people make, is they are afraid to make mistakes! You should never feel ashamed when you make a mistake, the very fact that you are trying to learn a new language is an exciting feat and you should never feel embarrassed! Really delve into the communities, participate and be confident! Often the quickest way to learn is through your mistakes, so make as many as possible. Talk to people and actively take part in group discussions, continuously strive to use the language whenever and however you can!
Another thing to be careful about are your resources. I’ve probably mentioned so many times on my blog already that learning from as many resources as possible is very important for self study. Never rely heavily on only one resource.
I usually always recommend using multiple resources, since sometimes a resource can accidentally omit information or have the occasional mistake (no one is perfect). So it’s very important to use your resources carefully. It’s always a good idea to cross check information in general, but by referring to multiple sources, you are required to quickly comprehend and compare new information, which in turn will further your understanding of anything you decide to learn! 
I would also advise against overwhelming yourself with new information - take it easy and try to stick to a structured plan. Sometimes, going into so much depth on one topic can make you feel like you’re being held back, or progressing too slowly. But it’s important to learn something well in order to build a strong foundation, otherwise it becomes habit to learn a large quantity of information, without the ability to retain it. So learn at a speed that feels comfortable, but don’t be afraid tochallenge yourself too!
The last common mistake is ‘skipping’. As you delve deeper into the language, you’ll most likely come across things that you don’t understand or things that you have discovered for the very first time. People will most often ignore it, perhaps finding it a little too intimidating, or uninteresting. But I recommend never skipping the opportunity to learn new information! It shouldn’t be the priority to focus entirely on so many new pieces of information, but grasping a small understanding of something you’re not sure about will broaden your comprehension vastly. So if there is anything you’re never sure about, it’s important to research it, or ask someone that might know. By repeating this system, you’ll build a pretty substantial and comprehensive framework to further expand later! (Don’t forget I’m always here for any enquiries, I’ll always do my best to answer).


For resources, I have a post here with many resources with a similar guide at how to approach the language! I also have my masterpost which is updated regularly!
Otherwise, here is some brilliant information that should help! 
I would just like to reiterate that this post isn’t a resource list, but a guide on how to approach Korean. So I really recommend checking out everyone’s resource list, and see what else is out there to find! There are so many brilliant websites and books to work from, you just have to find them!
And lastly, I’m always here if you have any questions. Good luck with your studies! ^^

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