Learning a language is a highly personal undertaking. While there are some universal tips for language learners most of us will struggle with finding the right tools and methods that work for us individually. Please keep in mind that any recommendations you see here will be from my personal perspective. They may, or may not, work for you. 화이팅! (Good luck!)
- Find a native Korean teacher through services like iTalki or Verbling who also speaks your language. A professional teacher can be affordable and will be a lifesaver. When you find a good one it also makes learning fun. My 한국어 선생님 (Korean teacher) Michelle is amazing and I can’t recommend her enough.
- Don’t settle for an unprofessional teacher. Find someone you can work with and stick with them. Use the less expensive trial lessons on iTalki or Verbling to find a good match.
- Learn 한글 (Hangul – the Korean alphabet) first. You can learn the basics very quickly but spend some time to really master it, including 받침 (Batchim) before moving on to other grammar and vocabulary. It is worth the investment. Don’t rush!
- Don’t fall for the K-Drama immersion myth. The internet is full of stories about English speakers who just watched endless K-Dramas until they became fluent. I don’t buy it and you shouldn’t either. Korean is a complex language and the transition from English is challenging. You shouldn’t let that deter you, and you can still benefit from taking in Korean content, in fact listening practice is essential, but don’t confuse simple content immersion with real study or active listening built on a foundation of grammar knowledge.
- Get yourself a good Korean/English keyboard. I had the ABKO Hacker K590 and really liked it. I now have an iMac and you can order English/Korean keyboards directly from Apple.
- Romanization: Don’t do it. I use it only rarely and that’s if I repeatedly have issues with a particular word. In that case I’ll add it as a note to my spreadsheet and use it for hints when I struggle. After that I ditch romanization entirely.
Keep in mind that I’m still relatively new to this. I’ll update these recommendations as I progress and it is possible that I might even change my mind about some of them over time.