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Is Korean Hard To Learn For English Speakers?
By Debbie Lopez Updated on April 4, 2024
Thomas Mühlbacher Thomas Mühlbacher

Is Korean Hard To Learn For English Speakers?

Detailed guide covering why Korean is difficult for English speakers to learn

Learning Korean can be a bit tricky for English speakers because of its grammar, pronunciation, and writing system. But if you stick with it and find fun ways to study, you’ll see how rewarding it can be! Mastering Korean’s unique aspects like honorifics and verb conjugations is key, but don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it with time and practice. Remember, everyone learns at their own pace, so enjoy the journey and celebrate your progress along the way.

Rocket Languages Comparison

How Hard Is Korean To Learn For English Speakers?

Korean is considered quite difficult for English speakers to learn. The writing system, Hangul, is phonetic and relatively easy to pick up.

However, mastering the grammar, which includes honorifics and verb conjugations, can be challenging.

korean vs english grammar
How Korean sentence structures compare to English

Additionally, the language’s sentence structure, which is subject-object-verb, differs from English, adding another layer of complexity.

Korean is generally considered more difficult to learn for English speakers compared to Spanish, German, and French.

What Is The Most Difficult Part Of Learning Korean?

The most difficult part of learning Korean for many English speakers is mastering its complex grammar. Korean grammar includes various verb forms, honorifics, and sentence structures that differ significantly from English.

Luckily, language apps like Rocket Korean and Pimsleur Korean can help individuals learn proper grammar. The Rocket Korean language program includes dedicated grammar lessons that are easy to understand and digest.

Additionally, the use of honorifics and levels of formality can be challenging to understand and apply correctly. Pronunciation can also pose difficulties, as Korean includes sounds that are not present in English.

Lastly, memorizing the large number of Korean words, especially for beginners, can be a significant challenge.

What Korean Words Sound Like English?

Several Korean words sound similar to their English counterparts due to historical and linguistic influences.

For example, “커피” (keopi) sounds like “coffee,” and “택시” (taeksi) sounds like “taxi.”

Similarly, “버스” (beoseu) sounds like “bus,” and “마스크” (maseukeu) sounds like “mask.”

Additionally, “아이스크림” (aiseukeurim) sounds like “ice cream.”

However, while these words may sound familiar, their meanings and usage in Korean can differ from English.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Korean As An English Speaker?

Learning Korean as an English speaker can take a bit of time, but don’t worry, it’s totally doable.

On average, expect it to take you around 2,000 hours of study time to reach a high level of fluency. That’s like binge-watching your favorite show for about 83 days straight—imagine all the popcorn you’d need!

However, if your goal is simply to reach and intermediate level of fluency, it may only take you around 500 hours. At this level, you should be able to get by in most day-to-day situations.

Of course, everyone’s journey is different, so some people might pick it up quicker, while others might take a bit longer. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race, and before you know it, you’ll be chatting away in Korean like a native.

Tips For Learning Korean As A Native English Speaker

If you are just starting the long road towards Korean fluency, here are a few tips that might help you along the way.

K-pop and K-drama Extravaganza: Dive into Korean music, dramas, and movies. Not only are they entertaining, but they’ll also immerse you in the language and culture.

Consider Using A Language App: Programs such as Rosetta Stone can help someone learn Korean by providing a comprehensive language learning curriculum that focuses on immersion and intuitive learning, helping learners develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in a natural way.

rosetta stone korean lesson
A look inside the Rosetta Stone Korean course

Language Exchange Adventures: Find a language exchange partner or group. Teaching someone English can be a blast while learning Korean from a native speaker is invaluable.

Korean Cuisine Quest: Explore Korean food! Not only will you expand your culinary horizons, but you’ll also pick up vocabulary related to cooking and ingredients.

Karaoke Confessions: Belt out some Korean tunes at karaoke (or in the shower). It’s a fun way to practice pronunciation and rhythm.

Flashcard Frenzy: Create colorful flashcards for vocabulary and hang them around your living space. Every glance is a mini-study session!

Drama Dialogue Drill: Pick a short scene from a K-drama and act it out. Not only is it a blast, but it also helps with natural speech patterns.

Korean Culture Crash Course: Learn about Korean holidays, traditions, and etiquette. Understanding the culture adds depth to your language skills.

Korean Pen Pal Pursuit: Connect with Korean speakers online or through pen pal programs. It’s a great way to practice writing and make new friends.

Remember, the key to learning Korean (or any language) is consistency and enjoying the process!


Is Korean Easy To Learn For English Speakers?

Korean poses a moderate challenge for English speakers, mainly because of its intricate grammar, unique sentence structure, and unfamiliar writing system. Yet, with perseverance and regular practice, many English learners discover Korean to be a fulfilling and delightful language to master.

Is Korean or Japanese easier to learn for an English speaker

English speakers often find Korean more accessible than Japanese, thanks to its simpler writing system (Hangul) and more direct grammar. Nevertheless, the ease of learning a language can differ based on individual learning styles and previous exposure to similar languages.