How to Speak Korean
Many Korean lessons are available online that will help you learn how to speak Korean. These are basic lessons to help you get started. On top of that, there are more opportunities for you to be able to practice speaking Korean.
However, if you want to learn how to have significant conversations in Korean quickly, then you’ll want to follow the steps below. These lessons and resources will show you the 80/20 for learning how to speak Korean and get you to a conversational level. In other words, you’ll learn the 20% of the Korean language that will give you 80% of the results. This will help you learn the most in the shortest amount of time.
Spend only the required learning time on each step, and then move on. Get a good understanding, but don’t worry about mastering each step for speaking Korean. You will be using the things you’ve learned during conversation practice time.
Each step also has a “related lessons” section at the bottom for additional practice and application of what you learn. You can use that after you’ve gone through all six steps, and you’ve decided you want to continue learning Korean.
Step 1: Learn to Read Hangeul (the Korean Alphabet)
If you want to speak Korean, the first thing you should do is learn to read Hangeul (the Korean alphabet). Learning Hangeul only takes about 1 hour to learn. There are two massive benefits to this.
First, you’ll be able to read Korean words and sentences quickly and easily. Knowing the alphabet will allow you to supercharge any Korean learning that you do, and begin to speak Korean in no time. It’s one of the simplest and most effective hacks for having Korean conversations.
And second, it will help you understand and use the correct pronunciation of your newly-learned words. This is critical if you want to speak Korean and have conversations. Korean pronunciation is significantly easier than reading romanized English. Learning to read the alphabet is necessary if you want to become a high-level Korean speaker.
Head over to the first of our online lessons and learn to read Hangeul before your next meal. The guide uses associations using the English alphabet. The Korean alphabet and the English alphabet have a lot of similarities, which will help you understand the pronunciation of the letters.
Once you can read the letters, move on to the next step in our guide. You don’t need to master them, just make sure you can sound out words. You may want to get some additional practice using flashcards. You can write the Korean letters on the front of the flashcard. On the back write the English equivalent and any pronunciation tips that may be helpful.
How To Read Korean Basic Consonants
First, let’s learn how to read Korean basic consonants. There are 14 basic consonants in the Korean alphabet. These are ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅅ,ㅇ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ,ㅎ. Let’s learn the sounds of each of these Korean consonants one by one. Look at the pictures and try to remember the consonant sounds. Then click on the audio to hear a Korean native speaker pronounce these Korean consonants.
The Korean character ㅇ sounds like the ‘ng’ in ring.
*ㅇ only makes a sound when it is at the end of the syllable. At the start, it is silent.
How To Read Korean Basic Vowels
Next, you will learn how to read Korean basic vowels. There are 10 basic vowels in the Korean alphabet which areㅏ, ㅑ, ㅓ, ㅕ, ㅗ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅠ, ㅡ, ㅣ. Look at the Korean vowels below and read the instructions on how to pronounce them. Then, click on the audio to the sound these Korean characters make.
ㅏ = a
The Korean vowel ㅏ sounds like the short ‘a‘ vowel sound in English. ㅏ sounds like the ‘a‘ in apple.
The Korean vowel ㅑ makes the sound ‘ya’. Notice how it is similar to the previous vowel but with an extra line? The extra line changes the ‘a’ sound into ‘ya’.
ㅓ = eo
The Korean vowel ㅓ sounds like the short o vowel sound in English. It sounds like the ‘o’ in the words pod, mop, job, etc.
The Korean vowel ㅕ makes the sound ‘yeo’. Again, it is similar to the previous vowel but with an extra line, right? The extra line changes the ‘eo’ sound into ‘yeo’.
ㅗ = o
The Korean vowel ㅗ sounds like the long o vowel sound in English. It sounds like the ‘o’ in the words bone, stone, coat, etc.
ㅛ = yo
The Korean vowel ㅛ makes the sound ‘yo’. Again, the extra line changes the ‘o’ sound into ‘yo’. ㅛ sounds like the ‘yo‘ in the word ‘yo-yo’.
ㅜ = u
The Korean vowel ㅜ sounds like the long u vowel sound in English. It sounds like the ‘u’ sound in the words mule, tune, blue, etc.
ㅠ = yu
The Korean vowel ㅠ makes the sound ‘yu’. The extra line changes the ‘u’ sound into ‘yu’. ㅠ sounds like the word ‘you’ in English.
ㅡ = eu
The Korean vowel ㅡ sounds similar to the short u vowel sound in the English words umbrella, put, mud, etc. However, it is slightly different and requires a unique mouth position.
The Korean vowel ㅣsounds like the long e sound in English.
ㅣ sounds like the ‘ee’ in the words meet, feet, tree, etc.