If you’re thinking about learning Korean then you are probably wondering “Is Korean hard to learn?” Well, the answer may surprise you. The Korean language is becoming increasingly popular these days and so many people want to start learning the Korean language. What puts many people off learning Korean is that they often hear that Korean is a particularly difficult language to learn. Below, we explain 7 reasons why learning Korean is easier than you may think. But first, let’s look at why Korean is often considered a difficult language to learn.
Is Korean Hard To Learn?
According to the Foreign Services Institute, Korean is considered a “Super-hard” language for native English speakers to learn. However, learning Korean is by no means impossible! Here are some of the reasons why Korean is hard to learn for English speakers:
- Korean has its own alphabet (Hangeul – 한글) that is nothing like the English alphabet.
- Korean is a hierarchical language and so you must change the words and level of speech depending on the situation and who you are talking to.
- Korean has ‘particles‘ that are used to indicate a particular function or grammatical relation of a word, whereas the English language does not use such things.
- Many Korean words derive from Chinese and so English speakers are unlikely to recognize many words as they would when learning European languages.
- It’s hard to practice with native Korean speakers or immerse yourself in the language unless you live in Korea.
With that being said, there are lots of things about the Korean language that make it easier to learn than many people realize. Once you grasp some of the basic concepts and rules about the Korean language, it becomes much easier to learn.
7 Reasons Why Learning Korean Is Easier Than You Think
Reason 1: Learning The Korean Alphabet Is Easy!
Compared to languages like Chinese and Japanese, learning the Korean alphabet is super easy! The Korean alphabet is phonetical in nature and so each letter corresponds to a particular phonetic sound. Many people can learn how to read Korean in as little as 24hours. Of course, it takes longer to master it, but once you learn the Korean alphabet you can read and write in Korean, which is essential for learning the language.
To show you just how easy the Korean alphabet is, here’s an example. The letter ㅂ makes a sound like the ‘b‘ in ‘beer’, the letter ㅏ makes a sound like the ‘a‘ in ‘apple’ and the letter ㄴ makes a sound like the ‘n‘ in ‘nose’. So that’s ㅂ = b ,ㅏ = a, ㄴ = n. Now try and read the following word from left to right, sounding out each letter: 바나나. If you just said ba-na-na, congratulations! You just read the Korean word for banana! Easy right? Learn how to read Korean with this free Korean alphabet lesson.
Reason 2: Learning Basic Korean Grammar Is Easy!
Once you understand Korean conjugation and grasp just a few simple rules, you’ll be able to say a huge amount of things in Korean. A lot of Korean grammar is just knowing how to attach different endings to a verb to give it different meanings. For example, take the verb 가다 [ga-da] (to go). You can make many different tenses and meanings just by attaching different endings: 가요 (go), 갔어요 (went), 갈 거예요 (will go), 가고 싶어요 (want to go), 갈까요? (Shall we go?), 가자 (Let’s go), etc.
So, as you can see, if you just learn some common Korean verbs and a few different endings, you can say a huge amount of things in Korean!
Reason 3: Hada Verbs Make Everything Easier!
Many Korean verbs are so-called ‘Hada Verbs‘. These are verbs that consist of a noun followed by 하다 [ha-da] which means ‘to do’. For example, to make the verb ‘to work’ you take the noun for ‘work’ which is 일 [il], and then add 하다 [ha-da] to make 일하다 [il-ha-da] (to work).
The reason this makes things easier for learning Korean is that all of these ‘hada verbs’ end in the same way. So, once you learn how to change one hada verb into a different tense or grammatical form, you know how to change all of them. For example, once you learn that 하다 (to do) in the past tense is 했어요 then you can change all hada verbs into the past tense because they all hada verbs end in 하다.
Reason 4: Many Words Are Compound Words
Many Korean words are just two single words together. This makes lots of Korean vocabulary super easy to learn. To help you understand what we mean, here’s an example. The word 책 [chaek] means ‘book’ and the word 상 [sang] means ‘table’. Together they make the word 책상 [chaek-sang] which literally says ‘book table’. So, can you guess what 책상 means in English? If you guessed ‘desk’, you would be right!
Not only are many words constructed like this in an easy-to-understand way, but also many words include the same word, so you can learn lots of new vocabulary quickly. For example, lots of words include the word 책 (book) such as 책상 (desk), 책장 (bookcase), 책갈피 (bookmarker), 공책 (notebook), 만화책 (comic books), etc.
If you want to learn lots of new Korean vocabulary like this, then check out our Korean Word Builder page for lots of examples of these compound words.
Reason 5: Konglish Words And Loan Words
You may be surprised to hear that Korean actually has many words that sound like English. These are known as either ‘Konglish words’ or ‘loan words’. Konglish words are the ‘Korean version’ of English words that sound similar to English but have a slightly different meaning or usage. For example, the word 아파트 [a-pa-teu] is a Konglish word that means ‘apartment’.
Loan words are words that are borrowed from another language and Korean has lots of these, too. For example, the word for ‘sandwich’ in Korean is 샌드위치 [saen-deu-wi-chi]. Learning Konglish words and loan words is super easy as they sound the same as the English word and have a similar meaning. You can learn 50 Konglish Words And Loan Words Here.
Reason 6: Finding A Korean Tutor Is Super Easy
One of the most challenging things when learning Korean is finding a native Korean speaker to practice with. Unless you have a Korean friend, or live in Korea, you are unlikely to get many chances to speak in Korean and be immersed in the language.
Luckily, these days it is easier than ever to find a Korean tutor online. Two of the best places to find a Korean tutor online are Italki.com and Preply.com. Both of these sites have Korean tutors with a variety of different prices and teaching experiences so you can easily find a tutor that matches your budget and learning style.
Reason 7: You Can Study Korean Online For Free
Learning a new language can be expensive if you have to pay for books, courses, tutors, etc. However, it is absolutely possible to learn Korean online for free. If you prefer to self-study Korean, then there are lots of online resources at your disposal.
Our free online Korean language course is designed for absolute beginners and includes free PDFs so you can download and print the lessons and study at your own pace. Once you learn some basic grammar through this course, you’ll be able to use our vocabulary lists and lessons on common Korean phrases to quickly and easily learn Korean.
Learning a new language is difficult and learning Korean is no different! Although Korean may be a hard language for English speakers to learn, it is by no means impossible. In fact, there are lots of things in the Korean language that are easy to learn. So, if you are passionate about learning Korean, then we say go for it! Check out our post on How To Start Learning Korean to get some tips on where to begin! Thanks for reading.